State News

Blue Cross taking seriously bribery allegation

Posted May 19, 2009 6:42 p.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2009 9:57 a.m. EDT

— Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina says it's taking seriously allegations one of its lobbyists tried to bribe a state House member.

The company issued a statement about its ethical standards Tuesday after a letter alleging a violation was sent to House Speaker Joe Hackney by the State Employees Association of North Carolina. Blue Cross spokesman Lew Borman says it will cooperate to resolve the allegations.

The General Assembly's ethics committee said two weeks ago it received an allegation a lobbyist tried to bribe a lawmaker in exchange for killing a bill. The committee identified neither the lobbyist nor lawmaker.

Employee association chief Dana Cope claims the lobbyist is a Blue Cross employee, and he wants a new vote on a bill that overhauled the State Health Plan, saying the bribery allegation tainted the whole issue.

The General Assembly last month approved a $250 million taxpayer bailout of the health plan for state workers, retirees and public school teachers. To restore financial stability to the plan, premiums and member co-payments were increased as well.

Hackney wouldn't comment on the letter.

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the bribery allegation.