On Beason's Short Leash

Since the news broke today about lobbyist Don Beason's lavish spending habits, I've been struggling to understand how and why this story has been covered up for so long. After doing some digging today, I have to conclude it's a pretty ugly picture of North Carolina's political press.

First off, Beason is not a household word in North Carolina, even though he should be. Up until today, the only definitive story on the influential Republican I could find was written in 2005 by Dan Kane, full of cushy stuff like this:

Top legislators say they like Beason, who was ranked as the most effective lobbyist last session, because he gives solid information and he's honest. "The operative word with Don Beason is 'professionalism,' " said Rep. Richard Morgan, a former Republican House speaker from Moore County.

But there might be other reasons for Beason's success, too. He has skillfully worked with his business clients to direct money to top legislators' campaigns and to cover the costs of their political meetings and events.

Dan Kane wrote that story in 2005, right? And now here we are in 2007, with everyone wondering who's the mystery man that funneled a half-a-million dollars into Jim Black's dirty pockets. And no one fingers Don Beason?

What gives?

It's not like the Capital Press Corpse has no knowledge of Don Beason. In fact, he's one of their biggest buddies. Reporters in Raleigh eat lunch with Beason regularly, and the state's "most effective" lobbyist has even been known to feed exclusive stories to his favorite Jimmy Olsen's. It's a twisted version of the old Stockholm Syndrome, with reporters befriending sources and then giving them way too many benefits-of-the-doubt.

For example, Laura Leslie at WUNC spent paragraphs earlier this month wondering whether the man behind the money was Linwood Mercer, a lobbyist who died years ago. She goes out of her way to say her story is all speculation, but that didn't stop her from writing it. So I guess it's okay to run with wild, unsubstantiated bulloney if the guy you're writing about is dead and not a reliable source of insider information.

One source told me today that a reporter recently asked Beason if he had a role in this sordid affair - and that Beason said he couldn't comment. Did you see that piece of news anywhere? I didn't.

The way I see it, Beason and the Capital Press Corpse are buddy-buddy. He's scratched their backs - and they've covered for his. Were it not for Jim Black finally coming clean about Beason's cash, I doubt any of the intrepid press would have pursued the issue for another second.

One more point: Beason, Jim Black and Richard Morgan were as tight as it gets. From all I can see, they helped engineer the sell-out of the North Carolina legislature to corporate interests . . . which is exactly where the $500,000 Beason gave Jim Black came from. Corporate interests. Everyone knew the path to Richard Morgan (and Jim Black?) went through Don Beason. At least that's what they're saying now.

So when you start hearing the NCGOP going on and on about what a crook Jim Black was, just remember this: Two-thirds of the treasonous troika were Republicans.

There's a lot not to like about this story, but at the top of my list is the performance of the North Carolina political press. The same people who still haven't gotten to the bottom of why David Almond was forced to resign from the House. The same people who have said "oh well" to Joe Boylan lying about sexual harassment.

Pretty damn sad.

Photo linked to the N&O


I've looked high and low

for stories about Beason . . . and they have been hard to come by (beyond Kane's 2005 article). If anyone can show me that Beason has been looked at by the watch dog lapdog press, I'd love to see it.

I have no comment says Beason! It's a state secret!

for stories about Beason . . . and they have been hard to come by (beyond Kane's 2005 article). If anyone can show me that Beason has been looked at by the watch dog lapdog press, I'd love to see it.* A

You won't! Good ole boy ring knockers like Beason have always had the mainstream establishment in their back hip pocket. Mr Beason should not be allowed on State Property for the next 200 years. He should be force to read 500 million copies of Black court transcript today and made to write on a Blackboard 1000 times in front of the State Capital everyday.

The mainsteam media should be force to watch in chains and beated if they do not pay attention to the Blackboard.

" I am a professional slez bag for corporate American and will screw North Carolina citizens at the first chance I get for a buck"

On the press

The problem is not that the press wasn't paying attention or hiding things. It's that there has been little credible evidence about Beason doing anything wrong, despite all the rumors.

It's easy to get someone to call someone a snake. It's a lot harder to get them to go on the record and tell you why. If you want a rumor mill ... go read a blog. Any reporting otherwise is bad reporting.

I suppose you could have just looked at Beason's lobbyist ranking and his ability to get things done at the legislature and put two and two together. But for the press to print anything on it, they'd need someone willing to talk about it.

This is more about good-ole-boy politics gone awry than poor reporting.



The press enjoys a good scandal just as much as anyone. They can certainly be blamed for being too cosy with sources at times, but I don't want them printing rumor either. I think we can all agree that all rumors are not true. It's one thing to have strong suspicions, it's another to print them.

The blogs are the perfect place for rumors, theories, and news all tied together - and hopefully the MSM is reading and will connect the dots on stories more quickly as a result.

They print (and broadcast) rumors all the time.

Maybe in this case they should have pushed harder. Or maybe the person who asked Beason about this issue should have reported that he declined to comment.

I get your point, but it looks like part of a pattern of soft-pedaling issues with friendlies.

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Laura Leslie

Just a few days ago printed a "rumor" that Democrats were trying to get the gas tax put back into the budget. She even called it a rumor, but she went ahead and printed it anyways. Some rumors are more equal than others.

There were also rumors today of a last-minute bid by a Dem senator to slip the highly unpopular car tax into the budget. The funding would go to the state's toll road fund to cover initial outlay expenses for new construction. No word on whether it got anywhere, but I'd guess probably not, given the fragility of the budget deal. Still, I'll keep an eye out for it when we get our press copies of the bill tomorrow or Saturday.

last Thursday she wrote:

There was a rumor circulating today that the Gov had called Basnight and Hackney in for a personal meeting. Maybe he just wanted to thank them in person for their support of his education initiatives, but I kind of doubt it. That sort of summons usually means something needs to be worked out. What, we don't know.

And, she was one of the first to start talking about the Boylan "affair" in a post titled "The Rumor Mill".


One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I commented at Mark Binker's blog

about how unwilling "they" were to spread some rumors, but not others. Did you notice all those rumors involved Democrats and the Democratic budget?
One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Binker by the way, has this to say.

# This has already gotten a good going-over elsewhere, so suffice it to say that prosecutors did not believe Black's story about the $500,000 loan from lobbyist Don Beason being for a business transaction.

I've met Beason a few times. He's a quiet, genial gent who sometimes assents to having lunch with us scruffy press types. His rep is knowing where many of the legislatures skeletons are buried and being one of the better lobbyists about.

For his part, today, Beason issued a statement that said, "I recognize that making the loan was a serious error in judgment and I deeply regret it. I apologize to my clients, to my fellow lobbyists, to members of the General Assembly and most of all to the citizens of North Carolina."

His lead story for tomorrow?

My story for tomorrow's paper will focus a fair bit on the tale Black told about the 1997 Speaker's race and Republican Rep. Harold Brubaker's efforts to win the post. I'll update this entry in the morning.

Unless that story has a lot to do with Beason, I think this can be added to the duck and cover file.
One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

People think Beason

will beat this and come out stronger and more influential. They're afraid.

im shocked

I wouldnt think it was someone like Beason, since he was already an incredibly important lobbyist. But, maybe things like this are why he became important.

But, if it had to be a top lobbyist, Beason is the least surprising.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Under the Dome has this tidbit

on who Beason's clients are:

BB&T, AT&T, IBM, NC Railroad, Progress Energy, NCCBI, NC Amusement Machine Assoc, NC Check Cashers Assn, NC Outdoor Advertising Assn, Citizens for Property Rights, Global Transpark, NC Restaurant Assn

Ever wonder how baseload generation got in the energy efficiency bill? Or how the billboard folks continue to get away with their shenanigans? Or why a restaurant smoking ban just can't get through the General Assembly? Or why the Triangle Transit Authority couldn't get cooperation from the damned state-owned railroad, doubling the price of the project and ultimately shelving it?

Now we know who had a hand in all that, and more.


Apparently, Mr. Beason is comfortable walking both sides of any street. For example, back in the controversy over releasing death photos of Dale Earnhardt, Beason got involved in a surprising way. The NC House had passed legislation blocking the release of the photos (with only one dissenting vote), but somehow Beason got the bill stopped in the Senate - at the behest . . . presumably at the behest of the NC Press Association. Remarkably, the Earnhardt family has also been a Beason client.

I wonder if that's why the press has given him a pass on the hard questions.

And don't let anyone tell you the press is trying to avoid rumor-mongering. In the early days of the Jim Black debacle, all they had were rumors and unnamed sources . . . and they had a frickin' field day. But get a few Republicans on the hot seat and all of a sudden the press is all "responsible."

Go figure.

Dam beginning to break?

If this were the NSA wire-tapping program, we'd be saying "the level of chatter suggests an imminent threat." I'm getting lots of stuff suggesting that many people have Beason stories and want to tell them. They're nervous, of course, because they're dealing with part of the unofficial power structure that runs North Carolina government. Some appear to be afraid of going public with their stories.

If you're one of those people, just click on my name and send me a message.

Hood weighs in

on the Beason deal, saying that he knew it was Beason all along. You see, John is part of the "insiders" club that includes guys like Rob Christensen, the rest of the Domers, and all the Capitol Press Cabal.

Too bad they sat on the story instead of pushing it forward. Hood's column is filled with conjecture and bullshit everyday, so there's nothing that should have prevented him for pointing to Beason early on. Now he's claiming this is no big surprise.

As I said earlier, Mercer was named (by Laura Leslie) because he's dead. None of the insiders dare cross Beason - until now that he's damaged goods.

Hood's 20/20 hindsight is just more of his smarmy, arrogant bullshit. He's part of the problem.

And just to be clear, the problem is that our democracy hangs in the balance while a lapdog press and corporate special interests tend the gates and call the shots.


The Hood knew the Real Hood was one of his boys in the Hood

on the Beason deal, saying that he knew it was Beason all along. You see, John is part of the "insiders" club* A

So it was a f########## Pope Republican who was running the Black show after all.......


he knew? so he supports corruption and doesnt want corruption to be rooted out? Im not surprised that he is playing so fast and loose with our democracy.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"