County attorney looks into whether someone voted on behalf of Commissioner Scarborough

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County Commissioner Chairman George Dunlap said that County Attorney Tyrone Wade is looking into whether someone other than Commissioner Ella Scarborough voted on her behalf during last week’s commission meeting.

The vote was whether to provide County Manager Dena Diorio with a $15,000 bonus.

A voice noticeably different than Scarborough’s voice responded “aye” when Dunlap called for her turn to vote.

The vote appeared to catch commissioners off-guard. After a brief period of silence, Dunlap laughed before moving on to the next person for their vote. Click here to watch the vote, starting at 47:43.

“I am aware that voice vote did not sound the same as other votes previously cast by Commissioner Scarborough. Other commissioners have raised the same concern,” Dunlap told Eyewitness News reporter Joe Bruno. “I have shared this with our attorney, who will be looking into this.”

[Everything you need to know about Mecklenburg County’s indoor mask mandate]

It is unclear who voted on Scarborough’s behalf.

Mecklenburg County commissioners are currently meeting virtually due to the closure of the Government Center. Commissioners are not required to have their cameras on during meetings.

Scarborough’s vote would not have made a difference. Mecklenburg County commissioners approved the bonus for Diorio by a 7-2 margin. After a commissioner acknowledges they are present and participating in the meeting, and they do not respond when called on for a vote, they are marked in the affirmative. There will be no revote on Diorio’s bonus.

Once a dominant presence in the local government scene, Scarborough now rarely participates during meetings. Aside from voting yes or no for measures or providing a second, Scarborough seldomly has provided her opinion on issues for several years. A records request in May that asked for all emails sent by Scarborough’s county email address showed the longtime commissioner had only sent one email to that point in 2021. The email was to the program director of the UNC Chapel Hill School of Government, and it was just a confirmation that she was in attendance for an ethics training session.

[Restorative justice program proposed by Mecklenburg County commissioner]

Scarborough did not return a request for comment on this story. Attempts by Channel 9 for months to get in contact with Scarborough have been unsuccessful. Dunlap indicated that he has had issues talking to Scarborough as well.

“I have not been able to speak to Commissioner Scarborough for some time,” he said. “I have on occasion, spoken with her children.”

Scarborough finished as the top vote receiver in the 2020 election and Democratic primary.

(‘It was sudden’: Son remembers Mecklenburg County courthouse clerk who succumbed to COVID-19)