Charlotte lawmaker refunds pay after WBTV investigation

Charlotte lawmaker refunds pay after WBTV investigation

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - State Senator Joyce Waddell has repaid the per diem she received for the March special session of the North Carolina General Assembly that she did not attend. The move comes days after an On Your Side investigation highlighted Waddell's collecting a check despite her absence.

Waddell was one of six senators--four Democrats and two Republicans--who had an excused absence on the day of the special session. Of the six, the two Republicans and two Democrats requested they not be paid for the day.

State lawmakers are automatically paid a $104 daily stipend plus the cost of one round trip from their home to the legislature for each week members are in session. Waddell's total compensation for the one-day special session was $192.

Last week, Waddell's legislative assistant said she was too busy to explain why she took the pay despite her absence. On Tuesday, Waddell told On Your Side Investigates it was a misunderstanding.

"I had an excused absence because of death in my family," Waddell said, explaining that she thought she would not receive her per diem because she had an excused absence.

Lawmakers must request they not be paid even if they are not present for the session.

"It was just a matter of a time lapse there, absolutely," Waddell said. "I should not have gotten paid."

Waddell said she drove to Raleigh last Thursday to write a reimbursement check for $192. She had a receipt from the legislature with her for Tuesday's interview.

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