State News

BB&T Drops Lobbyist Named in Black Testimony

Posted August 10, 2007 6:33 p.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2007 10:46 p.m. EDT

— BB&T Corp. has dropped the lobbyist who loaned $500,000 to then-House Speaker Jim Black in 2000.

"It was the right thing to do," said Bob Denham, spokesman for the Winston-Salem-based bank. "That's all I'm going to say."

The bank terminated its lobbying contracts Thursday with Don Beason and his son, Mark, according to officials with the Secretary of State's office.

Black testified July 31 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 tthe building o a nonprofit booster group for downtown Charlotte.

The money briefly showed up in Black's campaign account, but eventually was returned to Beason. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby argued Black knew it was an unethical loan designed to help boost his campaign coffers during an election year.

Beason called the transaction "a serious error in judgment" and apologized. Last week, he resigned from the North Carolina Professional Lobbyist Association.

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. His clients include IBM and formerly, Progress Energy, according to state filings and a Progress Energy representative.