We posted previously about Senator Kay Hagan’s brother-in-law pulling in more than a half million in real estate commissions from the City of Greensboro. Now, it appears the good senator’s husband is using some political pull to cash in at the expense of her constituents. Let’s go back to May of this year in Randolph County:
Randolph County commissioners grudgingly voted 4-to-1 Monday to approve a $440,625 payout for the county’s share of a $2.35 million lawsuit against the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority (PTRWA).
The lawsuit was brought against PTRWA by several owners of hydroelectric facilities on Deep River, including U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband, Chip.
Randolph County is one of six local governments that are members of the authority, including Greensboro, High Point, Jamestown, Archdale and Randleman. Each member will pay a pro-rated portion of the settlement based on the percentage of water they are allowed to take from Randleman Lake. Randleman will pay $48,880; Archdale, $107,630; Jamestown, $58,750; High Point, $445,560; and Greensboro, $1,228,555.
Commissioners complained at their Monday night meeting that the lawsuit had all the earmarks of a political deal influenced by Sen. Hagan’s position. They questioned the timing of the lawsuit; the involvement of a judge who Hagan recommended for a permanent federal court position; and what they characterized as the large legal fees earned by the senator’s husband law firm in the deal.
Commissioner Stan Haywood asked if the county could refuse to pay. County attorney Ben Morgan advised that failure to authorize payment could result in a contempt of court ruling.
“So my North Carolina senator’s husband sued the good people of Randolph County?” he asked, rhetorically.
“It smells real bad,” said Commissioner Arnold Lanier, who voted against making the payment. […]
No kidding. Kind of like Greensboro city leaders paying over a half million in real estate fees to the senator’s brother in law when there are multiple realtors on the city government staff. But, we digress. MORE:
The suit was brought in May 2008 by six owners of seven hydroelectric facilities on the Deep River. The original suit included L&S Water Power Inc.; Brooks Energy LLC; Deep River Hydro Inc.; William Dean Brooks; Howard Bruce Cox; and Hydrodyne Industries LLC, the company co-owned by Chip Hagan. Brooks was later removed from the plaintiff list by Superior Court ruling.
According to information provided by Gregory Flory, PTRWA executive director, the owners claimed the creation of the reservoir deprived them of their riparian rights and the ability to produce electricity. They sued for $5 million.
He said the essence of the authority’s objection to the lawsuit was that the plaintiffs had plenty of time before the reservoir was built to file claims. They declined to participate in the process, he said. Flory said the issuance of a certificate by the state and of a permit by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers gave approval for the authority’s activities. He said in his presentation to the board that the owners have no recognizable private property right in the flow of Deep River and no right to damages from the PTRWA for the alteration of that flow.
The case went to trial in Guilford County Superior Court in December 2008, just after Sen. Hagan’s election. Flory said the authority tried to have the case dismissed but was denied by the judge who ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
According to a Winston-Salem Journal news report, Sen. Hagan recommended the judge for a federal court position in October 2009. […]
Well, wasn’t that *nice*? MORE:
In November 2009, PTRWA asked the Superior Court to vacate the judge’s order, citing conflict of interest. That motion was denied and the Superior Court ruled against the authority. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Hagan withdrew her support for the judge shortly before Nov. 5, 2009, after being questioned by the paper about her husband’s involvement in the case.[…]
Hmmm. Withdrew the support AFTER the paper asked about it. The Hagan team said the senator had no idea the judge was involved in a case involving her husband. Attorneys for Hydrodyne — Hagan’s law partners — said there was no way the judge could have known of Hagan’s involvement in the Hydrodone case. Let’s go to The Greensboro News & Record from December 2009:
[… Defendant’s attorney Robert] Brinson cited several ways Murphy could have known of Chip Hagan‘s role in the case and his relationship to the senator, including Chip Hagan’s presence in the courtroom during a July 28 hearing allegedly with a U.S. Senate notebook. […]
Hydrodyne attorneys tried to downplay Chip Hagan’s involvement in the case — claiming he simply owned a “minority interest.” From there, let’s go to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s files. Hydrodyne’s most recent annual report shows Chip Hagan as the manager (and only signatory) representing Hydrodyne. HD Business Services — at the same address as Hagan’s law firm — is listed as the registered agent. The officers of HD Business Services LLC are Hagan and all of his law partners.
So, the fingerprints of Chip Hagan and his law firm are all over this piece of litigation that will end up costing taxpayers and water customers in Greensboro and surrounding areas a pretty penny.