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Allen on Poole

At the state Board of Elections hearing in October, developer Gary Allen was asked about Ruffin Poole. Here is a transcript of the exchange, which touched on contacts made by Allen and his partner Lanny Wilson as well as former Gov. Mike Easley's chief fundraiser, Michael Hayden.

Q     Do you know Ruffin Poole?

A     I do.

Q     How do you know Mr. Poole?

A     I believe Lanny Wilson introduced him to me, I don't know, sometime maybe early 2000, 2001 or '2 or somewhere along in there.

Q     Did you ever have any business relationship with him?

A     No.  I don't have any business relationship with him.

Q     Was he trying to assist you at all with the Oyster Harbour project?

A     Yes.  Yeah, he tried.  I think Lanny contacted him to ask him if he could help to get someone to look at the fact I was complaining about the delay.  And so--it just seemed unreasonably long to me, so I think he asked--asked Ruffin if he, you know, could get somebody to take a look at that that maybe would have enough knowledge, detailed knowledge, in the staff and---

Q     Detail knowledge in the staff of---

A     Detailed knowledge in terms of looking at the issue that was involved about the grass or the--and how we might--we needed to talk to somebody that could give us a little guidance on what we needed to do to meet the concerns of the staff, so I think he--we asked him to--I asked Lanny and Lanny got him.

And then I asked him to--you know, if he would, you know, see if he could get someone to take a look at it.  As it turned out, though, I don't know that much came of that.  It was really the outside experts that re‑engineered the bridge and the boat ramp that moved the thing forward with the staff.

Q     So did you meet or have a conversation with Ruffin Poole about it?

A     I don't recall whether I met with him or not, but we talked about it.

Q     You talked with him directly about it?

A     Either we talked about it or--you know, I talked to him about it or wrote him a letter, communicated with him somehow.

Q     Do you think you wrote him a letter?

A     Possible.  I think I communicated with him about it.  I just remember that Lanny--Lanny knew him a lot better than I did.  I didn't know him very well, but--at that point in time.  And so we talked about it, and I don't recall specifically if it was a phone or a letter.  But I talked to him about it and--I talked to Lanny and then he set up something where I think--it may have been a phone and a letter.  I don't know.

Q     What was your understanding of Mr. Poole's position within the government?

A     I believe Lanny said he was, you know, counsel to Governor Easley.  Specifically his job description I don't know beyond that.

Q     And you thought he would have some insight into how the Division of Water Quality functioned?

A     Well, yeah, I assume.  Lanny must have thought so or he wouldn't have got him, you know, to communicate with me about it.

Q     Now, was Lanny's request to him before or after Lanny had asked you for money for the Easley campaign or for the Democrat Party?

A     You know, I don't really recall.  I don't--to me those things were not really tied together in any way anyway.  And I don't recall the dates of it all.

Q     In your discussions with Lanny Wilson were you talking about other matters, or how often did you talk with Lanny Wilson?

A     With, you know, some degree of frequency in those days because he was a partner in the project, so--I don't know whether it was once a month or, you know, once every two months or three months, but, you know, some degree of frequency, I guess.

Q     Would you have contributed the money in any event?

A     Yes.  I--when Lanny asked me to do--make a

contribution, I made a decision based upon his request at the time, and it really had nothing to do with anything else.

Q     Do you have any thoughts on why Ruffin Poole would brief Michael Hayden about Oyster Harbour?

A     I don't particularly, no.

Day two coverage

Day two was full of fuzzy memories, but that didn't prevent some revelations from emerging about the campaign finance strategy of former Gov. Mike Easley's campaigns.

Here's the coverage from Wednesday's News & Observer.

Easley's campaign had a strategy to funnel contributions to the N.C. Democratic Party or outside organizations to avoid campaign finance limits.

For a guy who doesn't have to appear at the hearing, Ruffin Poole's name is coming up a lot. Witnesses have testified that Easley's aide was a go-to guy to get things done, such as a boat permit. Poole was a fixer for Easley.

Columnist Rob Christensen notes that "The lid of the state Capitol dome has been peeled back this week. The State Board of Elections has the crowbar and flashlight, and the political operatives are scurrying for cover."

News & Observer photojournalists Shawn Rocco and Chris Seward have produced a photo gallery from Tuesday's action.

Photojournalist Travis Long has produced a video clip in which developer Gary Allen can't remember very much about writing $50,000 checks.

Click here to comment on the hearings.

 

Allen doesn't remember checks

Gary Allen, a developer, doesn't remember anything about writing two $50,000 checks to the N.C. Democratic Party.

Lanny Wilson, a friend and business associate to Allen, testified Monday that he briefed former Gov. Mike Easley on a list of things Allen wanted including his seat on the Wildlife Commission and a permit for a boat dock.

Wilson testified that an inner circle of big Easley donors understood that big checks to the party would go directly to Easley's campaign.

Allen, a Charlotte native who now lives in Florida, said he doesn't remember talking to the governor about his permit or any circumstances around writing the checks.

"I don't recall the real details on it," Allen said. "Over the course of those years and a few years before, I've made many contributions, not only to candidates and the Democratic Party, but a lot of nonprofits as well. I don't recall the specifics of that."

Nearly every answer Allen gave during his testimony Tuesday began with the words, "I don't recall."

Developer, fundraiser Allen may testify

Gary Allen (center), a Charlotte developer and fundraiser, is in the hearing room with his attorney Steve Smith, left. The Board of Elections isn't sharing its witness list or who is likely to be called on which day, but Allen's prescence is a good sign that he'll be up.

Allen gave the N.C. Democratic Party a $50,000 contribution and developer Lanny Wilson testified that such contributions were understood to be headed to Gov. Mike Easley. Wilson gave Easley a briefing memo that included lots of things that Allen might want, such as a dock permit or to keep his seat on the Wildlife Commission.

Staff photo by Chris Seward. 

Wilson says he gave through party

A eastern North Carolina developer, fundraiser and Board of Transportation member testified that he gave checks to the Democratic Party that he expected to be in turn given to former Gov. Mike Easley's campaign.

Lanny Wilson said he and his wife wrote checks to the Easley campaign and were told to re-write the checks for the N.C. Democratic Party.

"It was my understanding that they would flow through the state Democratic Party and the Easley Committee would pay expenses," Wilson said.

Wilson said representatives of the Easley campaign told him it was legal to write checks to the party that were meant for Easley. State law limits contributions to a candidate to $4,000 per election cycle.

There is no limit on contributions to a political party, but checks cannot be designated for a specific purpose.

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