Investigation into Cabarrus Co. commissioner prompted by local councilman

Prosecutor released new details following WBTV reporting
The Chairman of the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners, Steve Morris, is under investigation by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation.
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 6:12 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) – Cabarrus County District Attorney Ashlie Shanley released new information into what prompted her to request an investigation into Cabarrus County Commission Chairman Steve Morris.

WBTV first reported on Tuesday that Morris is under investigation by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation for “allegations of potential collusion and fraud.”

In a statement confirming the investigation, the SBI spokeswoman said the investigation was opened at the request of Shanley, the Cabarrus County DA.

Morris told WBTV he was unaware of the investigation until a reporter contacted him.

Shanley released a statement on Wednesday detailing how her office came to request the probe.

“The Cabarrus County District Attorney’s office followed standard procedure when a request was made by Richard Wise that the State Bureau of Investigations look into a claim regarding the County Commission. When a request is made to our office for an investigation, our office forwards that request to the SBI,” according to a press release from Shanley’s office.

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Wise is a councilman for the Town of Midland, which is in Cabarrus County. He issued a statement to WBTV about his request following Shanley’s decision to release new details.

“I appreciate the district attorney referring this matter to the State Bureau of Investigation,” Wise said.

“Mr. Morris is very influential in Cabarrus County. His relationships here run deep and to the highest levels. A local investigation could not be impartial. I want to see an impartial investigation that is conducted fairly and without political manipulation.”

Shanley’s statement Wednesday did not include any additional details about the investigation.

Shanley nor the SBI released any additional information about the investigation or the specifics of the allegations.

It’s not uncommon for DAs to request an outside agency to investigate allegations made against elected officials within that DA’s jurisdiction.

Shanley said requesting the investigation is not unique and it does not prove the guilt or innocence of the individual being investigated.

“Our office would follow the same procedure if a complaint was made on anyone else in the community. The District Attorney’s Office does not investigate any complaints and makes no assertion about the validity of the claim when making a referral to the SBI. Our office forwarded the complaint we received at the beginning of the year and are awaiting a report from the SBI,” Shanley said.