A 2003 vote and promise continues to echo in the 9th Congressional District runoff.
At issue: Republican Robert Pittenger’s vote on a bill that involved property he owned, and his separate promise to donate other land to the town of Waxhaw for a park.
On Wednesday, Pittenger’s opponent, Jim Pendergraph, called for a criminal investigation into the 2003 vote.
Pittenger voted for a bill that annexed into Waxhaw some Union County land in which he had an ownership interest. Looser zoning regulations in Waxhaw helped increase the land’s value.
The bill passed overwhelmingly. Pittenger’s partnership sold the land in stages, the last portion in 2005.
“This apparent breach of trust appears to constitute a case of public corruption,” Pendergraph said in a statement. He called for state and federal investigations.
Pittenger spokesman Brian Mullis called the appeal “absurd (and) sad, and is a sign of a deep character flaw in Mr. Pendergraph.
“The simple truth is that this issue was reviewed by a Democrat-controlled independent legislative ethics committee five years ago, and nothing came of it.”
A Union County commissioner filed an ethics complaint with the legislature at the time. No public report on the complaint was ever made. Pendergraph’s campaign said the complaint was never brought up.
Also Wednesday, Waxhaw Town Manager Michael McLaurin sent Pittenger a letter asking him to “move forward” with his 2003 offer to donate 30 acres of land for a park. The land is part of a much larger tract still owned by a Pittenger partnership.
He wrote the letter after the town commission agreed Tuesday night to make the request.
According to town officials – and deed records – the land was never transferred.
“The council felt where is this land that belongs to the town of Waxhaw, to the people, and lo and behold it has not been transferred,” said Mayor Pro Tem Erin Kirkpatrick.
Mullis said Pittenger announced the gift and the mayor at the time didn’t request a deed because no plan for development of the property had been made.
“We are happy to provide further assurance if needed to the town and the county agreed to by (the former mayor) and Robert Pittenger,” he said. “Of course, Robert is a man of his word, and a public commitment has been made.”