Subpoena Contents Revealed
Details of a subpoena served on an aide to former N.C. House Speaker Richard Morgan show that federal investigators want information on two lobbyists and a political consultant.
The information was reported by The News & Observer of Raleigh Friday after the newspaper's attorney made a public records request to an attorney for Sabra Faires, Morgan's former chief of staff.
Information sought in the subpoena covers communications and campaign and financial ties between Faires and 26 individuals described as "relevant parties," among whom are Morgan, his former House co-speaker, Jim Black, and former Rep. Michael Decker of Forsyth County.
Morgan could not be reached for comment as this article was being prepared.
New names mentioned in the subpoena are those of Donald Beason, lobbyist for such companies as BellSouth, BB&T and Progress Energy; Jay Rouse, lobbyist for the N.C. Association of Electric Cooperatives, and Paul Shumaker, a political consultant to Morgan and his supporters.
The subpoena asks for information about two contributors to the political group known as the N.C. Republican Mainstream Comm-ittee, formed by Morgan and colleagues in 2004. S&M Brands contributed $100,000 to the committee, and the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association gave about $12,000. Beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch is said to have contributed $25,000.
The article by Observer staff writers Dan Kane and J. Andrew Curliss says that these contributions were made after the legislature cut a tax break for beer and wine wholesalers from the 2003 state budget. The break was estimated at $4 million annually. The Senate voted to restore some of the break, but the bill never made it out of the House. Then, after the contributions were made, the House voted for a partial restoration.
The article says that S&M made a contribution to the Mainstream Committee after "he (Morgan) had killed legislation that would have required the company and other small cigarette makers to contribute millions to a settlement fund that stemmed from a lawsuit the states had filed against the major cigarette companies."
Morgan has denied any wrongdoing during his nine terms in the state House of Representatives. He usually refers inquiries about his federal subpoena to his attorney.
Steve Smith, one of his attorneys, told the N&O that Morgan has been identified only as a witness.
"I can say that I don't know of anything that causes me any problems with Richard's activities," Smith said in response to an inquiry about the subpoena served on Faires. Smith said he has reviewed her subpoena.
Faires served as Morgan's attorney and chief of staff during his tenure as co-speaker of the House.
Former House Speaker Jim Black, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, has been charged with paying a $50,000 bribe to Michael Decker to persuade Decker to switch party registration from Republican to Democratic in order to give the Democrats a slight edge in the 2003-04 legislature. That change made possible the first-ever creation of a co-speakership, with a Democrat sharing that responsibility with a Republican.
Decker, a Forsyth County Republican, later switched back to the GOP. But by that time, it was too late. He had alienated voters back home, and he lost in the primary election the next year.
Decker has also entered a guilty plea to accepting the bribe.
Morgan was served with a subpoena in the fall and did testify before a federal grand jury in Raleigh. In an interview with The Pilot at that time, Morgan said the subpoena was politically motivated and that he had nothing to hide.
After his testimony before the grand jury, Morgan said he had answered all questions truthfully.
Morgan was defeated in the May primary election last year.
In addition to service as co-speaker and later speaker pro tempore in the House, Morgan held a number of powerful positions during his service in the legislature.
During the period that the Republicans were in power, he chaired the Rules Committee. He later served as House Republican leader.
More like this story