Treasurer Dale Folwell’s use of vehicles being investigated

The inquiry follows the hit-and-run indictment of former state auditor Beth Wood

State Treasurer Dale Folwell is being investigated for the possible misuse of state-owned vehicles. (Eamon Queeney / North State Journal)

RALEIGH — North Carolina law enforcement officials are investigating the potential improper use of state vehicles by state Treasurer Dale Folwell, according to a local prosecutor and records.

State investigators launched a probe in March after a spot check conducted by the Department of Administration’s Motor Fleet Management division flagged some 2022 trips, WRAL-TV reported on June 19.


At least three state vehicles operated by Folwell traveled to medical offices, a country club, fast-food offices, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and Republican Party offices, WRAL reported, citing a search warrant application filed last week in Wake County.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said she asked the State Bureau of Investigation to probe Folwell’s use of state vehicles.

“As with all cases involving public officials, it is important that the public be able to trust that these sorts of matters are appropriately scrutinized,” Freeman said in a written statement. “We are at the beginning of what is a standard review.”

Folwell, a Republican who has served as treasurer since 2017, has not been charged with any crimes. State vehicles are only supposed to be used for state business or approved commuting.

Folwell told WRAL that he hadn’t seen search warrants, but that he believed he was compliant with state guidelines and that the trips would be considered approved use of a state vehicle. “But I’m not perfect,” he said.

“We have provided pages of documentation throughout the course of this review,” Folwell said in a statement released the same night as the WRAL report. “We look forward to continuing to cooperate (with Motor Fleet Management) to satisfactorily resolve this issue.”

Folwell is not seeking reelection this fall. He made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for governor earlier this year.

“As keeper of the public purse, I have done my best to safeguard taxpayer money and to prudently use — not abuse — state resources,” Folwell said in a formal statement issued June 20. I learned just yesterday that a state agency investigator believed it necessary to obtain search warrants to look into the use of my assigned state vehicle for the many public functions I routinely perform throughout the state, all of which are purposefully planned to accomplish the maximum job duties possible during the trips.

“I have tried to be very careful in following published guidance — including written communications from the N.C. Department of Administration stating that mileage logs were no longer necessary — and the instructions of our internal chief financial officer regarding the use of state vehicles. I enjoy the demanding workload, which involves much coordination to save time and money, and being accessible anytime and anywhere in the state. Staff is assisting in compiling documentation to fully answer any outstanding questions that might remain after our numerous phone calls and the records we previously submitted to the state agencies conducting the compliance audit. Once that documentation is compiled, I will have more to say.”

Over his two terms as treasurer, Folwell has been critical of the lack of transparency in health care pricing and billing. His office has issued several reports on health care costs in the state, including Folwell’s Clear Pricing Project, a 2023 report on NC hospitals suing patients over medical debt for judgments worth more than $57 million and, most recently, a report on N.C. hospitals vastly overcharging patients.

The investigation comes months after the resignation of State Auditor Beth Wood following a similar review that led her to plead guilty in Wake County court to two misdemeanors for misusing a state-issued vehicle for personal activities.

Wood, a Democrat, received unsupervised probation and paid restitution as part of her plea agreement last December. The investigation started after she crashed a state-owned car into a parked vehicle after a holiday party in December 2022.

Folwell, a certified public accountant, previously served in government as a local school board member, state House member and head of then-Gov. Pat McCrory’s unemployment benefits agency.

North State Journal’s A.P. Dillon contributed to this report.