Calls grow to replace Tillis appointee to drilling board

Posted July 25, 2012

A state government watchdog and a Lee County resident are calling for an appointee to a new board that oversees natural gas exploration in North Carolina to be replaced.

House Speaker Thom Tillis recently named Ray Covington as one of his four appointments to the 15-member Energy and Mining Commission. Covington is co-founder of North Carolina Oil and Gas, which manages mineral rights leases for landowners in return for a share of future profits.

"The first rule of ethics and being part of government is that you shouldn't be in a position to benefit personally financially from what you do," said Jane Pinsky, director of the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform.

Covington was appointed to a seat meant for conservationists. Although he has done some conservation work, Pinsky said he has a glaring conflict of interest in serving on the energy commission.

"He may be one of the most honorable people in the world. He may have an open mind," she said, "but as always, it's the appearance to citizens that there is somebody being taken care of."

Covington declined to comment, but he previously told WRAL News that he doesn't see any conflict.

Read more of the story at WRAL Investigates.


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