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Wed June 7, 2006
State Board of Ethics Probes SoPo Marina Deal
By Catherine M. Welch
Wilmington, NC – The State Board of Ethics Wednesday will review Governor Mike Easley's relationship with Wilmington developer Nick Garrett, and whether it played a role in turning over the Southport Marina to Garrett and other investors.
A letter from members of a Southport community group asking the board to review Easley's involvement sparked the investigation.
Garrett has made contributions to the governor's campaign and his company did work on Easley's home.
An attorney involved with the project told the Wilmington Star-News that Garret is no longer involved in the marina project.
The North Carolina Ports Authority and Council of State have both signed off on the deal.
Southport Resident Bill Duke signed the letter sent to the ethic's board. He says he hopes today's hearing will spark a full investigation.
You know the ultimate outcome is that they would do two things, they would number one set aside the transactions at the December meeting which would void the current 40-year lease contract and that they would further do the same thing at the Council of State meeting.
Easley's office calls the complaint unfounded.
Garret did not return calls for this story.
A spokesperson for the Ports Authority has said the new lease not only specifies improvements of at least $2.5 million dollars, but also ensures that the marina will be operated as a public facility.