Wood will not seek re-election as State Auditor in 2024
North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood announced Wednesday at the end of a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing that she is not seeking re-election in 2024.
“I just wanted to take this time today to announce to this committee, whose many members are near and dear to my heart and have enjoyed working with them, that I’m announcing this afternoon that I am not running for re-election,” she announced during the hearing on the NC Department of Commerce Employment Security Division payment of unemployment insurance payments.
“There are some circumstances that are in my life, and I’ve recognized four years from now, I’ll be 74 years old, and so if there are some things I want to do, I need to get them done now.”
Wood, a Democrat, has faced much controversy after she left the the scene of an accident for an incident that occurred on Dec. 8. near the intersection of Salisbury and Hargett streets in downtown Raleigh.
She was charged on Dec. 12 with a misdemeanor for hit-and-run, leaving the scene, property damage, and an infraction for unsafe movement.
Wood was driving a state vehicle at the time when she hit a parked car owned by Chris Valverde, of Pinehurst.
Wood was at a Christmas party that night. Video obtained by WRAL shows Wood being led into the law office of Rufus Edmisten, a former N.C. secretary of state and Watergate lawyer, while her car remains in the intersection on top of Valverde’s car.
Valverde lent the car to his daughter so she could get to work that night.
In March, Wood pleaded guilty to the hit-and-run charge. WNCN – CBS 17 reported that Wood appeared with her attorney, Roger Smith Jr, in court. The infraction citation was dropped. The report said that Wood told the judge that she was not impaired the night of the crash but that she had two glasses of wine at a previous Christmas party. She paid $11,000 in restitution and a $300 court fine.
Wood issued a statement in January about the incident:
“On the evening of December 8, 2022, I attended a holiday gathering in downtown Raleigh. I was at the event for approximately two hours. When I left, I made a sharp right turn and inadvertently hit a parked car. I was shaken by the incident and, when I was unable to move my vehicle, I left the scene. That was a serious mistake and I regret my decision.
“The next morning, I notified State Motor Fleet Management that I was involved in an accident and subsequently was cited by police for unsafe movement and for failing to provide my name and other information to the owner of the car or a law enforcement officer.
“I sincerely regret my actions and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement. I have served the people of North Carolina as their State Auditor since 2009. I made a mistake in judgment on December 8, but I am committed to continuing to perform my duties with the same energy and determination I am known for.
“I apologize to the owner of the car I hit, my staff and all I serve for leaving the scene of the accident. I have learned from this mistake and am fully accepting personal responsibility for my actions.”
The N.C. Republican Party, among others, called on Wood to resign, and a billboard had gone up in Youngsville making the same demand.
Wood had told several news outlets that she had no plans to resign.
Another controversy surrounded Wood being sued in August by Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis Wright.
Wood’s office told the sheriff’s office last October that they wanted to investigate his office but would not give the reason why, including if the investigation involved looking at any criminal activity.
Wright’s office did send public records that the auditor’s office requested but refused to give records that he deemed protected under state law, according to a report from WRAL.
The report said the two offices held discussions in the ensuing months before Wood’s office subpoenaed Wright in March, requesting a personnel file of the sheriff’s office chaplain Mark Rowden, documents to a citation, and documents related to improvements at the county shooting range, according to the lawsuit. Auditors also wanted to be able to question all employees of the county’s crime scene investigative unit.
Wright had concerns, still not knowing the reason behind the investigation, and questioned Wood’s authority to investigate his office. It prompted him to file a lawsuit in May in Cumberland County Superior Court.
A slate of Republican candidates have announced their intention to run for the auditor’s office, including former UNC Board Chair David Boliek; CPA Jack Clark; businessman Charles Dingee; A.J. Daoud; former Greensboro city council member Jim Kee, and Guilford County Commissioner James Upchurch.
“I was sorry to hear the news that State Auditor Beth Wood will not seek reelection in 2024,” North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell said in a press release reacting to Wood’s announcement. “She has been a valuable colleague and public servant. She always keeps the best interests of the taxpayers in her heart and mind. I look forward to working with her during the remainder of her term. I’m sure she will finish strong.”
Wood reminded committee members at the end of her announcement, “I also want you to remember we got 14 months to kick some butt, so we will get it done over the next 14 months.”