State Sen. Brent Jackson, a major produce farmer in Sampson County, is a go-to guy for fellow Republicans and an influential lawmaker in his third term — a chief budget writer. So he should be up not just on the specifics of ethics rules but also savvy about the importance of transparency when it comes to making laws that might benefit him or his family.
But when it came to a law he pushed through this summer making it easier for farms to get state grants to cover costs of obtaining natural gas or propane, Jackson wasn’t telling his Senate colleagues that his farm had filed a $925,000 grant application with the agency that approves or rejects grant applications. Jackson tells The News & Observer that he didn’t realize his grant was still under consideration. He also says now he wouldn’t have kept the money and that he was just trying out the process because other farmers had told him they were having difficulty getting grants and he “wanted to see if the program would work.”
In talking to The N&O, Jackson seems to recognize the problem at least, and that’s to his credit. He insists he didn’t intend to do anything underhanded here.
Service to the public in the General Assembly comes with a duty to follow a higher standard of transparency, for example, than that followed by private citizens or even those in local government. Period.