Wednesday, January 28, 2009

McCrory gets new job -- close to home

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory has a pair of new business gigs -- including one with his brother.

McCrory, who lost the N.C. gubernatorial race in November, said this morning he's become a partner in McCrory & Company. Started by his brother Phil 19 years ago, the company is a consulting firm that works with business clients to increase sales.

"My main focus will be to help clients expand their customer base," the mayor says. He'll also use his network of contacts to bring the firm new clients.

Clients include IBM, Microsoft and Dell, according to Phil McCrory.

It's McCrory's second employer since college. He worked for years in a number of different jobs for Duke.

McCrory this week also joined the board of directors for The company is the parent of LendingTree and other groups such as and

McCrory declined to say how much he'll earn from either position. However filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that annually pays directors a retainer of $40,000 and a restricted stock award of $50,000.

At McCrory & Company, he'll make a salary and commission.

Phil McCrory says the company is looking for new office space in the SouthPark area. The company web site currently lists its headquarter address as 4360 Arbor Way, Suite 300. That's the address of Phil McCrory's south Charlotte home.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A lobbyist who'll be missed

The word lobbyist has a lot of negative connotations these days. They're agents for special interests, conduits of campaign cash and all-around bogeymen for government reformers.

Roger Bone represented groups such as tobacco, car dealers and pharmaceuticals. But for a quarter-century, his main special interest was the legislature itself and the people who worked there, be they legislators, reporters or staffers.

Roger died Sunday of cancer at 69.

I met Roger in 1985 when I started covering the legislature. A former lawmaker himself, he was working for then Speaker Liston Ramsey. He opened his own lobbying business a couple years later. He was rated the state's top lobbyist in the most recent rankings by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

But Roger never had an inflated sense of self-importance. A beefy guy, he always had a smile and stories that made other people smile. He got to the top by being a straight-shooter.

The last time I talked to him was a year or so ago, after his diagnosis and after a chemo treatment. There was no self-pity, just the old Roger. The legislature won't be the same without him.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Clinton -- the other one -- coming to N.C.

During last year's Democratic presidential primary, N.C. Sen. Julia Boseman traveled with Bill Clinton as he stumped for his wife, Hilary. Now the former president is repaying the favor.

Clinton is scheduled to headline a fundraiser this month for the Wilmington Democrat in Raleigh. The same day he'll headline another for U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler.

“Its not everyday the president comes down and throws a fundraiser for you," Boseman said today. "It gives me on start on fundraising for next year.”

She might need it.

Through October, she'd spent nearly three-quarters of a million dollars on race she would narrowly win. The Senate Democratic committee helped, giving her $438,000.

Shuler is rumored to be considering a 2010 challenge to Republican Sen. Richard Burr. Spokesman Andrew Whalen said Clinton will help raise money for another House campaign.

"Today," Whalen said, "we're running for re-election to the house."

Friday, January 09, 2009

Graham: Going 'where the big boats are'?

State Sen. Malcolm Graham will start his third term Sunday. And it may be his last.

The Charlotte Democrat plans to have a personal swearing-in at his alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University. According to a press release, he'll also "address his future plans and priorities."

There's been speculation that Graham would run for mayor, likely facing city council member Anthony Foxx is a primary. But Graham seems to be looking beyond the mayor's office.

"We're going to end speculation," he said today. "Watching what Sen. (Barack) Obama has done has inspired me... I want to take my ship out where the big boats are ... We're looking at 2010, and hopefully somethings will open up Congressionally or even a U.S. Senate race."

He said Sunday he'll outline his plans, at least in general.

"I’m not trying to be coy or anything, but certainly I will be thinking out loud," he said. "Some people said of mayor, 'Why are you thinking that way when you ought to be thinking bigger?'

"I can’t sit back and wait for Congressman (Mel) Watt to sit back and decide that he’s had enough. It may be time for me to create my own opportunity.”

Monday, January 05, 2009

Old stories, new charges haunt David Balmer

Remember David Balmer?

He's a one-time wunderkind of N.C. politics, elected to the state House in 1988 at age 26 and minority leader four years later. In 1994 the Charlotte Republican ran for Congress and forced a primary runoff with Sue Myrick.

But his resume -- playing varsity soccer in college, graduating in the top of his law school class and clerking on the state Supreme Court -- raised questions. Turned out, none of the claims was true. After first blaming the embellishments on a GOP rival and later an overzealous campaign worker, he admitted adding the lies himself. He apologized but was trounced in the runoff.

He kept a low profile for a year, until police found his bloodstained car in east Charlotte. Seventeen hours later, he turned up on a street far from home, battered, disheveled and soaking wet. Police never learned why. He moved to Colorado, remarried and in 2004 was elected to the state House out there.

Last month trouble found Balmer again.

He's running for the minority leader post in the Colorado House, the same job he had here. Last month the current Republican minority leader filed an ethics complaint against him. He alleges, according to the Rocky Mountain News, that Balmer "may have worked with a lobbyist to offer campaign donations and a future committee chairmanship to another legislator in exchange for supporting Balmer."

Balmer and the lobbyist both say they've done nothing wrong. Last week a legislative panel was appointed to look into the complaint.

When the complaint was filed, Colorado reporters got anonymous emails with news stories (including one from the Observer) about Balmer's earlier problems in North Carolina. The subject line read "The Sordid Tale of David Balmer."

The lobbyist in question, by the way, represents the Colorado Chiropractic Association. It was some N.C. chiropractors whom prosecutors said handed former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black wads of cash in restaurant bathrooms.