Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Pay to play on Wildlife Commission?

The influential N.C. Wildlife Federation has asked Gov. Bev Perdue to investigate whether seats were sold on the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, a key state regulatory agency, for large campaign contributions during the Easley administration. The board of directors of the Wildlife Federation, which is credited with helping birth the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission more than 60 years ago, voted Monday to seek the inquiry after testimony last week before the State Board of Elections raised questions about political appointments and campaign contributions.

The federation said the request was based on testimony "that the appointment of certain commissioners to the Wildlife Resources Commission was predicated upon political donations of over $100,000." Developer Lanny Wilson told the board he had proposed a five-point plan for Gov. Easley's campaign fundraising that involved getting large contributions. Wilson told the Easley campaign that his business partner, Charlotte developer Gary Allen, wanted to retain a seat on the Wildlife Resources Commission as well as get a boat ramp permit at a development in Brunswick County. After Allen wrote one $50,000 check, he got the boat ramp permit and reappointment in 2004 to the commission. The following year, Easley also appointed Randy Allen, Gary Allen's brother, to the commission.

“If these allegations prove true,” said Tim Gestwicki, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, “we call upon Governor Perdue to immediately demand the resignations of any individuals who were appointed under such inappropriate circumstances. She should then appoint duly qualified, representative citizens to serve out any replaced terms. That’s a fair, straightforward process to restoring credibility to the current appointment process and structure of the state agency responsible for the wildlife resources that belong to all North Carolinians.”


Anonymous said...

Gary Allen was appointed to the Wildlife Commission by former Speaker Jim Black. He was not an active commissioner and did not serve long. Governor Easley appointed his brother Randy after Gary Allen left the WRC. Randy Allen is not an involved commissioner either. The Allen brothers have not wielded any influence on the WRC in wildlife conservation issues, regulatory issues, or even issues pertaining to the area they represent- so unlike some other commissions (such as Transportation- where commissioners obtained mega-road improvement projects for areas they represented- like, say, Craven, Onslow and Cumberland counties)the Allens' mere presence on the Board has not compromised the integrity of the agency.
On any policy making commission in this state you'll have to look far and wide to find a governor's appointee whose appointment is not a thank you for loyalty or financial help. "Pay to Play" and "political appointee" go hand in hand. Governor Perdue is no exception. Look at her recent appointees to several boards and commissions.
Richard Hamilton, who works for the NC Wildlife Federation, was executive director of the WRC when the boat ramp was approved for Gary Allen's development. Hamilton should answer whether political pressure was applied to the agency or to him as director to expedite the boat ramp.
By statute Governor Perdue cannot remove a former governor's appointee from the WRC except for cause. It is disappointing that the NC Wildlife Federation is squandering its reputation and political capital by impugning the integrity of the very Commission (and its Commissioners)it has partnered with for more than half a century to benefit and conserve wildlife resources. I can't help but wonder why this seems so personal.

Anonymous said...

The Wildlife Federation would be remiss if it did not make this rather obvious inquiry about the composition of that commission, given the recent headlines. The Allen brothers are just examples of a larger problem there, one that deserves more attention. Instead of trying to brush off the concern by attacking Hamilton, how about commissioners disclosing how much they donated to their appointing authorities?

Anonymous said...

Since Governor Perdue has re-appointed all of Easley's WRC appointments whose terms had expired, she would be in a good position to know if this practice is topical. Perhaps it is time to see more appointments who are qualified beyond mere patronage. Since they are now Perdue appointments, not Easley, they would seem to serve at the current Governors pleasure. The previous writer's comment that Gary and Randy Allen were/are not involved commissioners would seem to support the widespread belief that the list of commissioners is bloated aand worthy of review.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Mr. Bennett could tell us if he thinks he got his position because he paid the Speaker?

Anonymous said...

Jim Hunt and Erskine Bowles are investors with Gary Allen in their real estate developments in NC.That is enough fire power to get you appointed to any board and obtain any permit.Why is there no investigation of their role in these developments and the state agencies?I can't believe you reporters get paid.Could it be you are in with the establishment in the state.

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Afiz said...

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