Local Politics

Don Beason Closes Door on Lobbying Career

One of North Carolina's most powerful lobbyists is calling it quits. Don Beason has not been charged with a crime, but a suspicious loan will end his career in lobbying.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Don Beason, the lobbyist who loaned $500,000 to then-House Speaker Jim Black in 2000, plans to end his career as a registered lobbyist at the General Assembly.

In an statement , Beason wrote, "late yesterday, I contacted the Secretary of State informing her that I wish to resign as a registered lobbyist effective immediately. I want to provide my clients with the opportunity to make other arrangements for representation before the North Carolina General Assembly. I enjoyed my work and appreciate the opportunity I had to serve my clients. However, I feel this is the right thing for me to do."

Black testified at his state sentencing hearing on corruption charges that Beason loaned him the money in June 2000 to upgrade a building Black owned. Black wanted to lease to a nonprofit booster group for downtown Charlotte.

The money briefly showed up in Black's campaign account, but eventually was returned to Beason. Beason apologized soon after the hearing, calling the transaction "a serious error in judgment."

Beason, who has already written a letter of intent to resign from the North Carolina Professional Lobbyist Association, must submit his resignation forms to the North Carolina's Secretary of State's office.

Beason was named the No. 1 lobbyist at the General Assembly during the 2005-06 session in a survey of legislators, lobbyists and reporters by the nonpartisan North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.

Beason has worked in the past with high-profile companies such as Progress Energy and AT&T, according to state filings. Now, many of those same clients like BB&T and Albemarle Mental Health are dropping the lobbyist. In addition, Catawba County suspended Beason's contract.

"They don't want to be associated in any way with a scandal they don't have anything to do with. So, it damages the relationship whether it's reputation or whatever between client and lobbyist," said Ran Coble, of the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

Last year, Beason spoke out about dangerous lobbying reforms at a North Carolina State Bar Association conference.

"Tough ethics laws do not provide strong ethical behavior," he said.

Beason has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

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