Environment, Legislature

Much ado about nothing: DEQ Sec’y Michael Regan has potential conflicts of interest; so did John Skvarla

Before Republican lawmakers get lathered up over State Ethics Commission findings that Michael Regan, nominee for NC DEQ Secretary has “potential for a conflict of interest,” they should re-read history.  The commission made the same findings in 2013 for former NC DEQ Secretary John Skvarla, nominated by Gov. Pat McCrory.

ABC11 reported the findings about Regan today.

Unlike Skvarla, though, Regan faces confirmation by the state senate on March 8.

High-ranking state officials, cabinet appointees, many state board members are legally required to file Statements of Economic Interest with the commission. Considering there are dozens of state boards whose members are subject to ethics rules, it is not unusual for the State Ethics Commission to find potential conflicts of interest in appointees’ disclosures.

The commission cited Regan’s previous job with the Environmental Defense Fund and his environmental consulting business as potential, but not actual conflicts.

“Because of these associations, Mr. Regan should exercise appropriate caution in the performance of his public duties should issues or entities related to his consulting practice, or the Environmental Defense Fund, come before Department for official action or otherwise seek to conduct business with the Department.”

The potential conflicts do not “prohibit service” with DEQ, the letter said.

The commission noted that Skvarla had been the CEO of Restoration Systems, LLC, a stream and wetland restoration firm. That company also owned financial interests in several mitigation companies that had business dealings with DEQ, the 2013 letter said.  Skvarla replied that he would sell  his ownership interest or place it in a blind trust.

As with Regan, the commission advised Skvarla to “exercise appropriate caution in the performance of his public duties should any entity in which he has a financial interest come before the department for official action.” In those cases, the commission said Skvarla and Regan should recuse themselves.

 

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