Local News

Documents Show Links Between Former Black Staffer, Lottery Company

Posted May 26, 2006

— The Secretary of State's office issued a 2,000-page report Friday related to the lobbying investigation into House Speaker Jim Black's former political director Meredith Norris and others.

Norris used the e-mail account of a lottery company executive to solicit lawmakers to support a lottery bill, the Secretary of State's office said in their report.

Norris, who worked for Scientific Games International during last year's lottery debate while still an unpaid assistant for Black, informed then-company vice president Alan Middleton in May 2005 that she had written the letter under his name.

"In the content of the example sent to Mr. Middleton, it is clear the message was intended to influence legislators in favor of lottery legislation," Special Agent Marvin Clark wrote to Secretary of State Elaine Marshall on Nov. 2.

Norris has said she had been hired only to monitor lottery legislation and not to lobby, but an investigator's report in the 2,000-page file released Friday indicates Scientific International expected her to represent the company before legislative committees.

At the same time Norris served as Black’s political director, Scientific Games was paying her. According to a contract she signed with the company last year, Norris agreed to register as a lobbyist for that lottery vendor. However, she did not. Yet, according to documents, she set up dinners and sent e-mails to lawmakers to get Scientific Games noticed.

The report said Middleton assisted with Norris' lobbying activities by providing access to his e-mail account. His expense reports also showed he had made lobbying-related expenditures before he registered as a lobbyist in April 2005. Rudolf said that expenditure involved a meal with Norris and not with a legislator.

Also, the report shows investigators for the Secretary of State's office believe Scientific Games and SCANA, the parent energy company of PSNC, violated lobbying laws. Norris worked for both.

District Attorney Colon Willoughby disagreed with the Secretary of State's investigator. He did not find evidence that Scientific Games and SCANA broke lobbying laws.

Both Norris and Middleton were charged earlier this week, along with public relations consultant Kevin Geddings, on misdemeanor counts of failing to register as lobbyists in North Carolina. Middleton also was accused of helping Norris lobby illegally.

Geddings was also indicted last week on federal charges for failing to disclose to the state his work for Scientific Games when he was appointed to the lottery commission. He resigned from the panel in November and has declared his innocence of all the charges.

The Secretary of State's report had been confidential while authorities investigated the allegations of lobbying law violations. A spokeswoman for Marshall said the Attorney General's Office told the agency May 17 that the investigative file was public record and needed to be released.

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