Under the Dome

Dome: Shanahan says law firm doesn't handle issues at legislature

Staff writersMay 11, 2013 

Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan says his law firm hasn’t represented clients who have issues before the General Assembly since he took office in January. The Shanahan Law Group’s website says that it does, but a spokeswoman for Shanahan said Saturday the website is inaccurate and that reference should have been removed after he was sworn in.

A story in Saturday’s N&O said the firm handles matters that go before the legislature and governmental agencies. Shanahan is still giving legal advice to clients he had at his law firm, but his firm is no longer handling criminal cases in state courts. He said he is taking steps to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Shanahan’s work on the side is “minimal,” he told the N&O, and is limited to evenings and weekends, according to a secondary employment form he filled out. Shanahan says the law firm has been around since 2001.

Officials, workers fail to file

About 1,200 state government workers, elected officials and political appointees failed to file their required financial disclosure form by the April 15 deadline – three times as many as last year, the State Ethics Commission learned Friday.

The officials at the commission call it “the perfect storm” – a new administration and thousands of newly covered officials under a recent state law that expanded who must comply with state ethics rules.

Another possible reason for the higher noncompliance numbers is budget cuts. A reminder card didn’t get sent this year in an effort to save $3,000.

The bulk of those who failed to file their Statement of Economic Interest on time – 760 – are the newly covered officials on Municipal Planning Organizations and Rural Planning Organizations. Another 450 are government workers and elected officials who were covered under the old law.

All together, 1,700 officials must file SEI forms each year.

Many of those who haven’t filed aren’t happy that they must disclose their financial interests.

“There are a lot of upset people this year,” said Teresa Pell, a commission attorney. “We’ve been cussed out and on the other end thanked profusely for our assistance.” In one case, Pell said an official flat refused to file his disclosure, saying he’d pay the fine.

All those who didn’t file on time are subject to a $250 fine, with the amount escalating if they continue to avoid compliance.

Gloves a reminder for McCrory

Gov. Pat McCrory keeps a pair of former heavyweight champion George Foreman’s gloves in his office as a reminder that one can come back.

Foreman gave McCrory the gloves after he lost the race for governor in 2008 to Democrat Bev Perdue.

McCrory said he was feeling down and was especially bummed about losing Charlotte, a city which had elected him mayor seven times.

“Losing your adopted home town tears at your heart,” McCrory said during a commencement speech at Campbell University law school Friday morning.

Foreman, seeing that he was down, sent the gloves. On one was inscribed: “Patrick with this hand, I missed a lot but I kept swinging. Your friend George Foreman.”

The other glove mentioned that Foreman had to get over the people of Africa booing him when he lost a 1974 heavyweight fight to Muhammad Ali. It read: “I had to reach out and forgive Africa. They pulled against me in 1974. For you the best is yet to come.”

Foreman came back in 1994 to become the oldest world heavyweight champion.

McCrory said the Foreman gloves were important to him in his decision to try again to run for governor in 2012 and they continue to be important to him in pushing for his programs.

“As you know, the challenges we face in the state and in the nation are more difficult than we anticipated,” McCrory said. “Many are structural and will require fundamental change, the type of change that people tend to resist the most. I keep these gloves right near me ... to give me a constant reminder to keep swinging.”

Staff writers Craig Jarvis, John Frank and Rob Christensen

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