Former state Sen. accused of illegal lobbying on charter school bill

The N.C. Secretary of State is looking into accusations that former state Sen. Eddie Goodall has been illegally lobbying for charter school legislation.

A complaint was filed by N.C. Association of Educators, according to this report from the Associated Press.

Goodall, a Mint Hill Republican, did not seek re-election in the past election, and took a job as president of the N.C. Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The alliance’s biggest priority this year is to get the charter school legislation, Senate Bill 8, passed and Goodall has attended many of the hearings and meetings about the bill. Senate Bill 8 would lift the cap on charter schools, and allow the schools greater access to public schools’ funding streams.

Legislators are supposed to sit out of the lobbying game for six months after they leave office. Goodall’s term expired in December, which wouldn’t make him eligible to lobby until this May.

Violations of the state’s lobbying laws are criminal misdemeanors and punishment can also include fines up to $5,000 per violation. Lobbyists also have stop lobbying for two years following their conviction date, if found guilty of the criminal offenses.

Goodall told the Associated Press he’s not been actively lobbying, but just attending public meetings and mentioned the bill to one legislator. He said that despite public statements like this one he made after the N.C. Senate passed a version of the bill.

Honorable Senators,

The Alliance Board of Directors asked me to thank you all for your historic support of the education “little guys”, the public charter schools. Special thanks to the leadership of the sponsor, Sen. Stevens, as well as the Education Co-Chairs, Sens. Tillman, Preston, and Soucek. We are also proud of those of you speaking on the senate floor for SB 8 at the second reading Wednesday.

Our organization will be a working partner of the broad charter community that looks at a new Commission and the schools that grow from it, with high expectations, no, demands, for academic success. None of us want anything less for any of our state’s children.

However, without your political courage, the gate would remain closed for the 1.5 million children looking to you and us for help. You have never stood so tall as you did Wednesday, when you reached down to lift up these children.

Eddie Goodall, President

For those keeping close tabs of Goodall, he also got caught this week with continuing to use the special plates that the DMV issues to legislators. The plate carries its perks, including letting lawmakers park on the streets surrounding the General Assembly. (It’s a ‘No Parking Zone’ for the rest of us).

Goodall told the N&O’s Lynn Bonner that said he’s going to get new plates, and just hadn’t realized his special legislative plates expired on Feb. 15. His inspection sticker was also expired.

5 Comments

  1. Frances

    March 24, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Mr. Goodall,
    You are handling this all wrong. If you join a certain law firm in the Capital City along with Jim Hunt and the Governor’s son, there would not be a problem. Your firm will receive lots of Golden Leaf money and the excuse will be job creation. That would be okay.

    Can Not See the Trees

  2. Matt

    March 24, 2011 at 4:36 am

    He might need to pay closer attention to detail though, if the written information is all the Union has on him, he is innocent. I deal with this on a daily basis. Lobbying is associated wtih asking for direct action on legislation. Answering technical questions, or in this case thanking people is NOT lobbying. It is called advocacy and the IRS allows this with no restrictions.

    He is innocent and the Unions are just being Unions.

  3. shelley

    March 24, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Yes the unions are just being unions and trying to protect the workers rights v. the big money boys. Stop excusing these people; they are out to destroy our country and the Unions are the only ones trying to hold the lines.

  4. Sarah Ovaska

    March 24, 2011 at 9:33 am

    @ Matt. Here’s a the actual language of the law (N.C.GS 120C for those statute nerds like me out there), which does not, in my casual reading of the law, seem to have the limited view that just direct action equates to lobbying. That was changed a lot following the lobbying scandals we had after the state lottery was established.

    (9) Lobby or Lobbying. – Any of the following:

    a. Influencing or attempting to influence legislative or executive action, or both, through direct communication or activities with a designated individual or that designated individual’s immediate family.

    b. Developing goodwill through communications or activities, including the building of relationships, with a designated individual or that designated individual’s immediate family with the intention of influencing current or future legislative or executive action, or both.

    The terms “lobby” or “lobbying” do not include communications or activities as part of a business, civic, religious, fraternal, personal, or commercial relationship which is not connected to legislative or executive action, or both.

    (10) Lobbyist. – An individual who engages in lobbying for payment and meets any of the following criteria:

    a. Repealed by Session Laws 2007?348, s. 8(a), effective October 10, 2007.

    b. Represents another person or governmental unit, but is not directly employed by that person or governmental unit.

    c. Contracts for payment for lobbying.

    d. Is employed by a person and a significant part of that employee’s duties include lobbying. In no case shall an employee be considered a lobbyist if in no 30?day period less than five percent (5%) of that employee’s actual duties include engaging in lobbying as defined in subdivision (9)a. of this section or if in no 30?day period less than five percent (5%) of that employee’s actual duties include engaging in lobbying as defined in subdivision (9)b. of this section.

  5. gregflynn

    March 24, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    With approximately 20 business days in a 30 day period just one day hanging around the General Assembly talking with legislators, assistants or staff tends to meet the NC 5% threshold. It’s not just face time, it’s also “attempting to influence”.

    For the record NCAE is not a union, and the NC restrictions on lobbying have nothing to do with the IRS.