RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Officials with the North Carolina Republican Party say they plan to file complaints with the state bar and the State Ethics Commission against Attorney General Roy Cooper for comments that he made during a televised debate Wednesday night.
Cooper took part in the debate with Governor Pat McCrory and Libertarian Lon Cecil.
The hour-long debate, hosted by television station WRAL, became heated at times as McCrory and Cooper made personal attacks on numerous topics.
"Three times in a televised debate, the sitting NC Attorney General Roy Cooper acted unethically and immorally by saying there is a current FBI Investigation into North Carolina's Governor," Dallas Woodhouse, the Executive Director of the NCGOP said. "As has been reported in many places, there is no such investigation. None whatsoever."
More than 35 minutes into the debate, Cooper said, "If you want to talk about political contributions, Governor, you're the one who now has an FBI criminal investigation."
"As Attorney General, you should resign right now for saying that," McCrory replied. "That is absolutely not true. There is no FBI investigation. You should apologize right now."
"Words matter, and going on statewide and national TV and declaring that North Carolina's head of state is under Federal investigation when he is not, is a violation of professional ethics and shows a lack of character and morals," Woodhouse said.
According to Woodhouse, the NCGOP is in the process of drafting and intend to file complaints with the North Carolina Bar and the State Ethics Commission.
"Cooper, despite not really doing his job, is technically the state's top attorney," Woodhouse said. "He has some basic standards he has to meet. He has done something that would get any lawyer disbarred."
North Carolina Democratic spokesman Dave Miranda said he's glad the Republicans brought up the comments from last night's debate.
"Governor McCrory doling out a private prison contract to a top donor is part of a pattern of McCrory participating in pay-to-play scandals and putting donors and cronies ahead of the people of North Carolina," Miranda said. "A second scandal came up at last night's debate as well: Governor McCrory lied about the subject of his secret meeting with Duke Energy executives, claiming the meeting was about a bill that didn't exist at the time. What else is McCrory hiding?"
WBTV reached out to the FBI to see if there was an ongoing investigation. The FBI doesn't comment on potential, ongoing or past investigations.
Lia Bantavani, spokeswoman for the United States Department of Justice, did send a statement to WBTV based on the comments from the debate.
"Western District of North Carolina U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose previously advised Gov. Pat McCrory's attorney that all matters related to the Governor's alleged involvement with state prison contracts have been closed by this Office with no action against the Governor," Bantavani said.
Jamal Little, campaign spokesman for Roy Cooper, said that information was not made public until today - the day after the debate.
"It was only today publicly announced that a widely-reported FBI investigation into pay-to-play in Governor McCrory's Administration has concluded," Little said. "This investigation is a reminder of the consequences of pay-to-play and the troubling optics of campaign donors demanding and receiving state contracts."
It is unclear when the NCGOP plans to file its complaint.