Hours after state Sen. Richard Stevens announced his resignation, a major Raleigh lobbying firm announced he is joining as a strategic consultant.
Stevens, a high-ranking Republican budget writer this year, resigned effective Friday. The announcement was made Monday with Senate leader Phil Berger referring to Stevens’ departure as a retirement.
A few hours later on Monday, Raleigh law firm Smith Anderson announced that Stevens was joining its practice. He will advise clients on economic development, state and local regulatory issues, government contracting and state policy issues.
The resignation before the end of the year, when his term formally expires, means that Stevens can register as a state lobbyist in six months – a short “cooling off” period that has come under fire from government reform proponents. His House colleague, Republican budget writer Harold Brubaker, did the same earlier this summer in order to lobby at the legislature.
The Democrat seeking to replace Stevens, Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman, sounded off about the move. “Richard (Stevens) has been a dedicated public servant, so it is disappointing to see him quit so he can lobby sooner,” Portman said in a statement. “This is the kind of revolving door in Raleigh we need to end. I am a businessman and will never be a lobbyist.”
Portman faces Republican Tamara Barringer in the November election.
Audit shows padded mileage
An employee at the state Department of Public Instruction collected $3,270 in undeserved travel reimbursements over the 12 months ending June 2011, according to a state audit.
The state Auditor’s office found the employee had overstated miles driven by 6,474.
DPI said in response that the employee – who was not named in the audit – will be disciplined and the department will get the money back. The employee works for the DPI division responsible for helping schools improve.
During its review of DPI’s top 10 travelers, the auditor found 104 instances where there were discrepancies in the employee’s reported mileage.
Seventy percent of the reports the employee filed with his supervisor were problematic, according to the audit.
For example, he reported leaving Gibsonville at 7 a.m. one day and arriving at a school 156 miles away at 8 a.m.
No bounce for Obama
President Barack Obama did not get a post-convention bump in North Carolina despite having the convention held in Charlotte, according to a new poll.
The race remains deadlocked, with Obama at 49 percent and Republican candidate Mitt Romney at 48 percent, well within the 3 percent margin of error.
That slight increase came from winning over some independent voters. Last week, Romney had the swing vote 51 to 40 percent. This week, the two men are tied with 48 percent of independent voters each.
The poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm in Raleigh, did show Obama with a light bump in job approval numbers, putting him at 50 percent for the first time since April. But 49 percent disapprove of the job he is doing.
Most North Carolinians (57 percent) think hosting the convention in Charlotte was a good thing. The spin from pollster Tom Jensen: “North Carolina’s been a swing state from the start and it looks like it will be a swing state to the end.”
The survey of 1,087 voters was conducted Sept. 7-9.
Staff writers John Frank, Lynn Bonner and Rob Christensen
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