NC workers' group launches outside review of its policies

Posted February 16, 2015

— The interim executive director of North Carolina's largest state employees interest group says he wants to "establish a renewed sense of confidence" since the nonprofit's head resigned amid questions about how the organization spent more than $109,000.

Dana Cope stepped down from his post of 15 years on Tuesday, the same day Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said she asked the State Bureau of Investigation for an "inquiry" into "spending irregularities" at the State Employees Association of North Carolina.

Especially of interest, Freeman says, is a SEANC receipt for a $19,000 check to a Washington, D.C., computer company that was reportedly cashed by an Apex landscaping company doing work at Cope's Raleigh home.

Interim executive director Mitch Leonard said Monday that he has ordered an independent review of SEANC's policies, procedures and practices "to determine what, if anything, could have been done to prevent this situation from happening and guard against such events in the future."

An internal investigation, he said, "perhaps, did not go far enough and did not provide enough actionable information to make the necessary changes to ensure this will not happen again."

Washington, D.C., firm Bond Beebe will head the review and report to Leonard and the SEANC Board of Directors.

"Based on their findings and the objective counsel we receive as a result of the independent reviews, we will be taking absolute steps to ensure that our operations and finances are sound, safeguarded from abuse and work to fulfill our important mission," Leonard said in a statement.

Freeman said last week that the "inquiry" is not a criminal investigation but a review to determine if there is reason to believe criminal activity occurred.  She also said no specific person was a target of the review.

SEANC represents the interests of about 55,000 current and retired state workers.


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