Local Politics

Attention Turns to Lobbyist's Links to Black

Posted August 1, 2007

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— Lobbyist Don Beason was under fire Wednesday, a day after he was identified as the person who gave former House Speaker Jim Black $500,000 seven years ago.

Black and Beason, who routinely ranks among the most powerful lobbyists in Raleigh, both have said the $500,000 was a business loan for a failed real estate deal and went into Black's campaign fund by mistake.

Beason issued a statement Tuesday night in which he called the transaction "a serious error in judgment" that he regretted.

However, at least two of his clients, AT&T and Progress Energy, said Wednesday that they are reviewing the facts of the case and would take appropriate action.

Beason's Web site, which contained endorsements from Black, former House Speaker Dan Blue and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, was taken offline late Tuesday.

Basnight declined to talk about Beason on Wednesday.

The information about Beason's $500,000 check came to light in recent weeks as Black, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, was sentenced to prison on a federal public corruption charge and a state obstruction of justice charge. Black still awaits sentencing on a state bribery charge.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby grilled Black for more than an hour during a state sentencing hearing Tuesday to gain more information about money and influence in the General Assembly.

"We don't yet have all the answers to all the questions," Willoughby said after the hearing.

Black blithely described the flow of money between those who make laws and those trying to influence lawmakers.

"The whole thing goes round and round," he testified.

Some lawmakers said Wednesday they were incensed at being tarred by Black's brush.

"It's not common around here where people trade favors or legislation for cash. He just attempted to slime the entire (General) Assembly," said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.

Ethics rules adopted in the wake of Black's fall from power have helped lawmaker start to put the corruption case behind them.

For example, Black raised more than $294,000 in the first half of 2005, according to campaign finance reports. Speaker Joe Hackney took in about $17,000 in the first six months of this year, reports show.

"We're trying to change the political culture here. There is some sense we've got to expose what has happened in the past so we can appreciate how bad things were and then now much change has taken place," said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a political watchdog group.

"I think we're turning the boat in the ocean, and it takes time," Hall said.

70 Comments

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  • FloydRTurbo Aug 2, 2007

    WRAL should send a camera crew to Big Ed's Restaurant. Apparently "Don The Cryptkeeper" is quite notorious down there.

    This guy is sooooo "oily" and has been for a loooong time.

  • richard2 Aug 2, 2007

    You can turn the boat if you want to.

  • GWALLY Aug 2, 2007

    ...we know that AT&T and Progress Energy were 2 of his "clients"...his web site has been taken down (how convenient) to protect the identities of "others"!!!!

    ....joe's print shop, or mike's gas station (small guys) don't get "this type" of "representation" from lobbyist.....that's why the "small business owner" pays most of the taxes in this state, with the least representation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mvnull Aug 2, 2007

    "Lower taxes, less government regulations, and a smaller government will solve many problems."

    Be careful what you wish for. Look at China now. It has effectively no regulations and the products it produces are shoddy and dangerous. The US tried it in the 1800s, and it really didn't work out very well. There is no reason to believe that unbridled capitalism will work this time.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 2, 2007

    Nah the house cleaning did not happen at the Federal Level. Mostly republicans were tossed but not all of them and then we were still left with all the Democrat incumbents who are now controlling congress. We need to throw out all of them. Everyone on the Federal Level and everyone at the state level, then continue on down to the county and city levels. And we need to do that every election cycle.

  • rand321 Aug 2, 2007

    I am amazed how Black and Beason, who have spent many many years in the state government in the name of "public service" have been able to amass such large amounts of personal wealth.

    For Beason to so easily "loan" Black half a million dollars is incredible.

    The question that should be asked who did Beason represent and where did he funnel the funds his clients gave him. I bet if they follow the money, there may be lots of more legislation passed that was favorable to those clients.

    I am feeling that if you want legislation passed or tabled in NC, one only needs enough money to buy the votes needed. Getting rid of Black is only the start of the clean up. I wonder what will turn up in the NC Senate.

  • papa jim Aug 2, 2007

    You people that keep hollering fir TERM LIMITS need to know that we have term limits now.... it's called a vote GET OUT AND EXERCISE THESE TERM LIMITS

  • yacs Aug 2, 2007

    'Beason issued a statement Tuesday night in which he called the transaction "a serious error in judgment" that he regretted.'

    Yeah, I bet he regrets it, but not for the reasons he implied. I'm sure this guy has no regrets about bribing a public official; he only regrets that he chose Black. His "error in judgment" was to bribe someone that he thought would never get caught and turn over on him. "Error in judgment" = "I bet on the wrong horse."

  • normalthinking Aug 2, 2007

    1 look at this old creep tells it all

  • katgoesloco Aug 2, 2007

    Beason is a Republican. This scandal includes both parties. And nobody involved is a liberal by any stretch.

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