NC auditor turns up dispute with ethics panel

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina State Auditor Les Merritt is criticizing the State Ethics Commission for blocking his agency's investigation of the panel.

Merritt's comments came Thursday as his office released an interim report into the probe. The commission sued Merritt last month, saying someone else should investigate it because Merritt's top investigator used to work for the panel.

The report suggests the commission is violating the law by failing to provide auditors access to state records and commission staff.

Merritt's office wants to know whether an aide to Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue received special treatment by reviewing in private a financial disclosure statement. Auditors also want to know if an office assistant was wrongly fired.

Ethics commission officials have denied wrongdoing.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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