News

DOT Slush Funds Remain Active

RALEIGH — N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett continues to maintain a slush fund of $5 million for House Speaker Jim Black and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight in the wake of a controversy that erupted when the practice was exposed in March. A spreadsheet maintained in the office of DOT Chief Engineer W. S. Varnedoe, and obtained Thursday by Carolina Journal, shows that projects submitted by Black and Basnight are still being charged against their respective $5 million accounts.

Don Carrington
News

Firm Paid Despite Producing No Jobs

RALEIGH — A fingerprint technology company promoted by State Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight received $307,575 from the state’s Tobacco Trust Fund, ostensibly in exchange for relocating significant operations to North Carolina, which the company never fulfilled. After Privaris, Inc. completed a pilot project for the state Division of Motor Vehicles in 2003, company workers vacated their office space at a publicly funded business incubator in Williamston. Despite its failure to create 10 to 15 new jobs as promised in its contract with the Tobacco Trust, Privaris was paid $132,575 in April 2004.

Paul Chesser
News

Easley’s Hand Stronger on Airport

RALEIGH — Gov. Mike Easley and State Senate leader Marc Basnight are at odds over the ownership of property adjacent to the Currituck County Airport. Basnight and Currituck officials contend the airport site comprises 535 acres, and cite a budget provision to argue that the entire property be donated. Easley’s position is that the airport area is much smaller. He originally offered Currituck 160 acres. In his position, Basnight relies on the claim that the 535-acre tract was surplus property given to the state by the federal government after World War II, But records show the land wasn’t owned by Washington, leaving Easley free to define the airport’s size.

Don Carrington
News

Basnight Firm Still Has Unpaid Bill

RALEIGH — After The News & Observer published a story in February about his contract dispute with Basnight Construction, James Morris thought it would be easier to collect about $50,000 he was owed. But as of Tuesday, Morris still doesn’t have his money and he thinks that the political influence of Marc Basnight, state Senate leader and president of Basnight Construction, has been a factor. The dispute involves a $5 million contract to install a sewer system in Engelhard. Basnight Construction was a subcontractor on the project, which in turne hired Morris’ company. Marc Basnight was responsible for securing the grants for the state-funded project.

Don Carrington
News

Role of Regional Partnerships, Basnight Questioned

RALEIGH — Fragmentation of leadership and responsibilities has diminished the effectiveness of North Carolina’s publicly funded economic development agencies, says a private developer who once had dealings in the northeast area of the state. The developer said "that region is controlled by [Senate President Pro Tem Marc] Basnight and by R.V. Owens (III)." Owens is Basnight’s nephew, chief fund-raiser, and a powerful influence in the Northeast. "Everybody has to stay in line and stay in step," the developer said, "or there are negative ramifications held over their heads."

Paul Chesser

Help Support Non-profit Journalism & Donate Today

News

Executive: Basnight Had “Key” To Tobacco Funds

RALEIGH — CropTech Corporation, which negotiated with NC for more than a year in an effort to relocate to the state, instead decided to move to South Carolina in May 2002. A company official blames the time spent dealing with NC for draining its finances, leading to bankruptcy. "We were told there was no one more powerful in the state of North Carolina than Senator Basnight," he said. "It was understood that this was an exceptional situation because of the involvement of the Tobacco Trust, and Senator Basnight had the key to that resource. His key to opening that door was accommodating his interests — that’s what we were led to believe."

Paul Chesser
News

Easley, Basnight Manipulate Golden LEAF, Papers Show

The Golden LEAF Foundation, which administers half of North Carolina’s share of the national tobacco settlement, claims to operate independent of political persuasion. But documents obtained by Carolina Journal suggest that Gov. Mike Easley and N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight wield significant influence over the nonprofit foundation, reports Paul Chesser.

Paul Chesser