Gun Charge Continues Ex-Lobbyist's Fall
Posted August 30, 2007 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2007 7:09 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Former House Speaker Jim Black's fall from power included an array of allegations that piled up over time. Now, a former lobbyist linked to Black is likewise facing a mounting list of problems.
Don Beason has been charged with assault with a firearm, a misdemeanor offense, after a handgun was brandished during a curbside confrontation last month.
Beason came under scrutiny last month after authorities identified him as the source of a $500,000 loan to Black seven years ago. The loan, which passed through Black's campaign account, came to light as Black was sentenced on a federal corruption charge that stemmed from illegal cash payments he received from chiropractors.
Black is serving a 63-month sentence at a federal prison camp in Pennsylvania.
Days before the $500,000 loan was detailed in federal court papers, Beasley and a Raleigh couple exchanged words at a gas station near Oberlin Road in Raleigh. During the incident, Beason pulled a holstered handgun from the center console of his pickup and laid it on the front seat.
The couple called police as Beason drove off, and he was later pulled over and cited. He has a permit to carry the gun in his truck, police said.
"I think he feels like he's under scrutiny constantly, and that would probably wear on anybody," said Beason's attorney, Bob Hensley. "I think it's basically a misunderstanding, and I think that will come out in court."
Beason is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 20.
The couple involved in the incident, Jason Batten and his fiancee, Chrisy Tellis, said they feel the issue has been blown out of proportion. Beason never pulled the gun from the holster or pointed it at anyone, they said.
The gun charge continues Beason's fall from the heights of a power-broker in the halls of the General Assembly, said David McLennan, a political science professor at Peace College.
"He was a top lobbyist – consistently voted that by fellow lobbyists and legislators for years – has major clients, has the ear of political leader of the state," McLennan said. "This is a guy who cracked under pressure potentially."
Beason withdrew his state lobbyist registration two weeks ago amid mounting criticism over the loan to Black. State and federal authorities continue to investigate the transaction.
The loan and the gun charge will likely define Beason's legacy, McLennan said.
"The $500,00 loan and his brandishing a gun in a parking lot are going to be the things that are remembered," he said.