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Kieran Shanahans unexpected resignation as head of the states public safety agency in July came as he appeared to be making long-term plans to remain in the job.
Three days before he resigned, efforts were underway to complete his clearance for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security so that he could be designated as the state official eligible to receive sensitive information in North Carolina about terrorist and other threats.
Also, the Office of State Budget and Management planned to have a strategic budget meeting with Shanahan on the day before he departed, which Shanahan indicated he would attend.
Those plans are mentioned in phone text messages between Shanahan and his administrative assistant, which The News & Observer obtained through a public records request from the state Department of Public Safety.
The scheduled plans underline just how abrupt Shanahans departure was after only seven months on the job.
Shanahans July 25 letter of resignation, and public remarks by Gov. Pat McCrory the same day, indicated Shanahan had decided to leave because he was unable to juggle his private business interests law and lobbying firms and property management with the responsibilities of running a 26,000-employee department. Shanahan also indicated he needed to support his wife in her advancing career in the U.S. Navy Reserves. Tina Shanahan was recently promoted to rear admiral based in Portsmouth, Va.
The resignation letter said the two men had discussed the possibility that he might not be able to leave his business interests when Shanahan accepted the appointment. McCrory told reporters they hadnt discussed his actual resignation before July 25.
Shanahan and McCrory said they had decided that the end of July, when his resignation became official, was a good time to leave because the General Assembly had just concluded its session.
Shanahan, in an emailed response to The N&Os questions about the text messages, reiterated those reasons without addressing the specifics.
I maintained a robust, fully engaged schedule as DPS Secretary until the Governor and I agreed on a date for my departure, Shanahan wrote.
As a whole, the text messages from March through July show Shanahan kept a routine schedule to the end. They reflect meetings with the governor, the governors wife, various committees and assorted ceremonies, along with public records requests and inquiries from The News & Observer for stories about Shanahans moonlighting legal work.
More than 50 text messages were redacted from the records taken from Shanahans and his assistants phones. The department said that is because they were not messages between Shanahan and the assistant.
There are no clues among the messages that he would resign. Rather, they show Shanahan focused on obtaining clearance from Homeland Security.
The federal Department of Homeland Security has a contact in each state who receives confidential information. In North Carolina, that has been the states secretary of public safety. Gaining that clearance by filling out an extensive application form and detailed background check, along with submitting fingerprints is important.
The former federal prosecutor met April 29 with a Homeland Security liaison at the federal courthouse in Raleigh, according to a copy of Shanahans calendar provided to The N&O in a previous records request.
On May 14, his assistant emailed homeland questions for his review, telling him to plan on completing it and having it typed and submitted by the end of the week.
On May 26, he sent a text to his assistant, asking her whether she had information on an upcoming annual Homeland Security conference. Two days, he later noted: We need to get my homeland security clearance.
On the afternoon of July 22, Shanahans assistant sent him a text that said she was working on getting the fingerprinting done. About half an hour later, she told him it would be done at the City-County Bureau of Identification in Raleigh, apparently on that date.
Three days later Shanahan resigned, along with Chief Operating Officer Edward Sonny Masso. There was no indication that their departures were related.