Power nonprofit group paid lobbyist $139,000 severance

Posted by Dan Kane on January 3, 2014 

ElectriCities, the public nonprofit that purchases power for dozens of North Carolina communities, paid its former longtime lobbyist a $139,000 severance when she left in 2012.

Estherine Davis had been with the nonprofit for nearly 28 years, and was one of nine lobbyists registered to represent ElectriCities in 2012. Some of the others were lobbyists on contract and not employees.

State lobbying records show she stopped representing ElectriCities in March of 2012.

ElectriCities CEO Graham Edwards and the nonprofit's attorney, David Barnes, would not explain why she left or why she was paid the severance. They said it was a personnel matter, and as such, is not public record.

The law, however, does give public agencies the ability to release protected personnel information if there's a question as to the integrity of the agency.

Barnes confirmed that Davis had not been dismissed, demoted or suspended in her time at ElectriCities.

Davis could not be reached for comment. She started her own lobbying business shortly after leaving ElectriCities and since then has represented two clients in state matters.

The severance turned up when The News & Observer requested pay records from ElectriCities for a story that featured Edwards' bonus pay. That story was part of a three-part series, Checks Without Balances, that ran in November.

State treasurer records indicate the $139,000 severance was equal to Davis' annual salary.

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