Larry Jones has represented the High Rock Lake Association (HRLA) in the Alcoa relicensing process since it began. He has always been one of the most well-informed stakeholders, as well as one of the most articulate. That was sure to land him in someone’s crosshairs.
Sure enough, when Alcoa routinely reported to FERC its “Conveyance of Project Property Annual Report” on February 1, 2010, the Yadkin Riverkeeper’s and State Senator Stan Bingham’s ears pricked up. Cherry-picking the fact that Alcoa had transferred 2.5 acres of land to Larry Jones (clear title to the driveway to his farm), but neglecting the portion of the conveyance whereby Larry Jones gave up easement rights, which have monetary value, Naujoks and Bingham went on the attack. They charged that Alcoa had, in effect, “paid” Jones, and that Jones had therefore acted as a lobbyist when talking to elected officials. Naujoks and Bingham filed a complaint with the Secretary of State, sent out a press release, and from that time on tarred Jones’ good name with being “under investigation.”
So, how did this investigation turn out? There weren’t any press releases or newspaper articles about that. Larry Jones was exonerated. The Department of the Secretary of State concluded “the evidence does not support the conclusion that Mr. Jones met the financial compensation aspect of the lobbyist definition”, and closed the inquiry in April 2011.
And yet, as recently as this week, Central Park NC, the state takeover’s token stakeholder, referred to this as just one example (none other were specified) of the “wheeling and dealing” which pervaded the entire stakeholder process. I guess if you don’t have any real issues to talk about, mud-slinging fills the void.