Carolina Journal News Reports
Top, D.M. "Mac" Campbell at the Nov. 6 meeting of the N.C. DOT Board. Bottom, signature page of Campbell's Economic Interest Statement. Click here for larger version.
RALEIGH -- In an apparent conflict of interest, Elizabethtown businessman D. M. "Mac" Campbell Jr. owns the only vehicle and license plate renewal office in Bladen County while he also serves as a member of the N.C. Board of Transportation.
[Updated with response from Campbell below]
Campbell failed to disclose that he owns a business that is a contractor for the DOT's Division of Motor Vehicles. As a member of the board, Campbell is required annually to complete a Statement of Economic Interest and submit it to the State Ethics Commission. His current statement, received by the commission in March 2008, does not make any reference to the license plate contractor, Top Value Auto Parts Inc.
Originally established as True Value Auto Parts Inc., the company name was changed to Top Value Auto Parts Inc. in 1996. Corporation records from the N.C. Secretary of State's office show Campbell as president of the company when it was formed, and the company's most recent annual report filed in June also lists him as president.
DMV documents show that in May 1993 Campbell submitted by fax an application for a motor-vehicle license plate agency to Jim Bennett in Gov. Jim Hunt's office. The fax cover sheet came from Campbell Oil Company, one of the businesses he owns, but Stewart G. Norris, as vice president of True Value Auto Parts, Inc. submitted the application.
"I am owner and manager of True Value Auto Parts, Inc. (NAPA) in Elizabethtown and plan to operate agency along with parts business," Norris stated on the form. While Norris might have been a part owner in the business, documents on file with the N.C. Secretary of State’s office show that Campbell was president of the same company.
Reached at the business Wednesday, Gail Norris, the wife of Stewart Norris, confirmed that Campbell owned Top Value Auto Parts, a NAPA franchise.
Campbell did list on his economic statement that he rented real estate to DMV. The property appears to be for the local N.C. driver's license office.
When told of Campbell's failure to disclose his tag business, DOT spokesman Ernie Seneca said, "Disclosure on the form is between the individual and the Ethics Commission. You would need to talk with the commission."
Ethics Commission staff members in the past have declined to talk with CJ about individuals and the details of their Economic Interest Statements.
Campbells in the news
Campbell and one of his sons, D. McQueen Campbell III, have been the focus of other recent CJ news stories. Gov. Mike Easley appointed Mac Campbell to the DOT Board in 2001. That same year, he appointed McQueen Campbell to the North Carolina State University Board of Trustees. Campbell is chairman of the board and had a role in approving first lady Mary Easley’s recent 88 percent pay raise to $170,000 annually. Easley also appointed McQueen’s brother, Brian Campbell, to the North Carolina Aeronautics Council.
McQueen Campbell has admitted coordinating Easley's 2005 purchase of a $550,000 coastal building lot that Carteret County officials valued at $1.2 million a year later.
The family owns at least six aircraft, and McQueen Campbell has admitted flying the governor for campaign purposes as early as 2000. Easley's 2000 and 2004 campaign reports show no payments to the Campbells or any of their companies for flying services. Mac and McQueen Campbell both failed to list their aircraft businesses on their Statements of Economic Interest. Both have refused to answer questions about campaign, business, or recreational flying activities involving Easley.
CJ was unable to reach Mac Campbell for comment. The DOT Board is meeting today in Raleigh. The elder Campbell is a member of the board’s Motor Vehicles Committee.
UPDATE: A Carolina Journal reporter approached Mac Campbell prior to today's DOT Board meeting. He would not answer any questions but handed the reporter the following statement:
It has been brought to my attention that I have overlooked listing my 30 percent ownership in Top Value Auto Parts, which has had a license plate agency contract with DMV since 1993, on my Ethics Statement.
I have contacted the Ethics Commission to report this oversight and began immediately to amend my statement.
I regret this oversight on listing my ownership in this company, which I have no day-to-day involvement. I have not received any compensation from the company in any form.
Don Carrington is executive editor of Carolina Journal.