Ethics board tosses complaint against Cansler

From staff reportsFebruary 11, 2011 

The State Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint filed against state Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler over the awarding of no-bid contracts to former lobbying clients.

In it's ruling, the commission concluded there was no evidence that Cansler participated directly in approving a $30 million deal with the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence, a company that reviews state Medicaid claims and procedures. The commission also concluded that Cansler received no direct financial benefit from the contracts awarded his former client.

The complaint was filed in April by former state House speaker Richard Morgan over Cansler's admission that he still receives income from Cansler Fuquay Solutions, the lobbying firm he founded in 2005 after leaving state employment as the deputy DHHS secretary.

When he was appointed as secretary by Gov. Beverly Perdue in 2009, Cansler quit his lobbying job and sold his stake in the firm. At the time, Perdue brushed aside concerns about Cansler's cozy ties with his former clients.

After Cansler went back to DHHS, CCME retained Cansler Fuquay Solutions to lobby state government on its behalf. Meanwhile, Cansler, a former Republican legislator, was paid $3,000 a month by his former firm as part of the deal under which he sold his share of the company.

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