Paul Foley did not go gentle into a good night from the State Board of Elections. Appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, Republican Foley, who also was counsel for the state Republican Party before his board appointment, had what should have been seen as a clear conflict of interest problem. His Winston-Salem law firm had represented Chase E. Burns, a central figure in the board’s investigation of political contributions from the video sweepstakes industry.
Burns and a company to which he was connected fought furiously to preserve the lucrative industry in North Carolina, giving heavy contributions to many leading politicians. He also spent in seven figures with Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, a law firm where Foley is a member. Foley pressed elections board staff for updates on the investigation into Burns’ payments. Once elections officials discovered the connection to his law firm, he said he would recuse himself from all matters connected to the investigation. But he still wanted information from the staff.
Now he has resigned. But his resignation was late in coming and an embarrassment to Gov. Pat McCrory, who appointed him to the board. Give the governor credit: He recently said he wanted Foley off the board, and incredibly, Foley at first refused to resign. McCrory then said he would move to force him off and Foley saw the light and quit.
If elections are to be credible, this board must be credible. Even an appearance of a conflict of interest with one member reflects poorly on the board. The governor must choose more wisely next time out.