Wooten’s 2019 Statement of Economic Interest did not list any rental income as required by state ethics law
After seeing a WXII-12 news report revealing J.D. Wooten rented two homes he owns to a convicted drug dealer, former Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement member John Lewis filed an official complaint against the District 24 (Guilford, Alamance) Democrat candidate for failing to disclose rental income as required by law. (click here for complaint)
The complaint asks the N.C. Ethics Commission, Chairman William H. Freeman, to“conduct an investigation into the Statement of Economic Interest filed on January 9, 2020 by John D. Wooten IV, who is a candidate for the North Carolina State Senate District 24.” The complaint points out that the commission is required to turn over the results to the State Bureau of Investigation for possible prosecution as required by law.
All candidates (including those currently serving and those seeking office) for the North Carolina General Assembly are required to file a Statement of Economic Interest with the N.C. Ethics Commission that includes certain financial, professional, and personal information. Candidates must disclose property information and sources of rental income of at least $5,000.
According to the complaint, Wooten filed his 2019 Statement of Economic Interest on January 9, 2020. In the document, Wooten did not disclose any rental income. However, on September 15, Mr. Wooten filed a lawsuit, which was posted online (www.ncdp.org/media/jd-wooten-files-lawsuit-against-amy-galey-to-stop-her-lies-and-set-the-record-straight/), stating that he rents a house on Wilson Street in downtown Greensboro. On page 6, paragraph 24 of the lawsuit, his lawyer states: “In July 2018, Mr. Wooten had rented out the home he owned in Greensboro to help cover the costs of that house.”
Last week, WXII investigative reporter Bill O’Neil reported that Wooten rented his home on Wilson Street to Aqib Khan Malik, a drug dealer with four prior convictions over the past five years. O’Neil reported that Malik was arrested in June of this year for selling drugs out of JD Wooten’s Wilson Street house. Police found $20,000 in Malik’s car and on his person when he was arrested.
Amazingly, after Malik was arrested on drug charges at Wooten’s Wilson Street house, he then moved to a new rental home – JD Wooten’s other house on Lindell Road. Carolina Journal reporter Don Carrington previously reported that Wooten purchased two homes in downtown Greensboro using government-backed, “primary residence only” VA loans. The houses are 1.8 miles apart – one on Wilson Street, the other on Lindell Road – both in downtown Greensboro.
In the WXII report, Bill O’Neil stated that JD Wooten refused to explain why he rented two houses to the same convicted drug dealer, only that Wooten “lashed out” at his opponent and against WXII for reporting the story.
Republican Amy Galey and Democrat JD Wooten are in a fierce battle facing off to win the North Carolina State Senate District 24 seat this November, covering Alamance and part of Guilford County. Galey is currently serving as an Alamance County commissioner, and Wooten is an Air Force veteran now in the private sector as an intellectual property attorney.
With incumbent Rick Gunn (R) having stepped down after his 2018 term in office, both Galey and Wooten would be serving in this role for the first time if elected. The race has already seen over $2 million in direct candidate spending, and overall the race has seen roughly $4 million in total election spending when independent expenditures not controlled by the candidates are included.
A news release from Galey highlighted Wooten’s relationship with Malik. “J.D. Wooten doesn’t care about his neighbors, keeping our community safe, or supporting law enforcement. If he did, why did he rent his two houses to the same drug dealer? Wooten owes the voters a full account about his relationship with Aqib Khan Malik and an explanation of why he rented him both of his homes.”This drug arrest could be the reason Wooten did not disclose rental income from his 204 Wilson Street house is because he was renting to Aqib Malik, a convicted drug dealer.
The lack of income disclosure also raises the question of whether Wooten paid taxes on this income, which quite conceivably could have been undocumented cash payments from Aqib Malik, however that is a separate question for the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the IRS.
According to Mr. Lewis, the State Ethics Commission, has the authority pursuant to N.C.G.S. §138A-28(a) to “review all statements of economic interest pursuant to G.S. 138A-10(a)(4) and shall evaluate whether (i) the statements conform to the law and the rules of the commission.” Mr. Lewis requests the State Ethics Commission investigate this matter to determine whether or not a violation under the State Ethics Act has occurred pursuant to N.C.G.S. §138A-26 and N.C.G.S. §138A-27, or to take action pursuant to N.C.G.S. §138A-25, which would include a referral to the State Bureau of Investigation to determine if the unreported source of income was an intentional act of deceit which would be a felony under North Carolina law.