The people and political connections behind the controversial GenX appropriation

The people and political connections behind the controversial GenX appropriation

How Cape Fear Public Utility Authority won $185,000 over DEQ

- in Environment

Several professional and political relationships are entangled in the House Bill 56 appropriation of $185,000 to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. See full description below.

Click here for a pdf version of the diagram.


Companies and boards

Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

Eckel & Vaughan public relations firm

Cape Fear Commercial real estate


Corning, Inc. (formerly Dow/Corning)


Sen. Mike Lee (R-New Hanover), who has pressed fellow lawmakers to appropriate money to the utility

Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover), has joined Lee in that plea

Mike Brown, utility authority board chairman, works at Cape Fear Commercial

Brian Eckel, works at Cape Fear Commercial, campaign contributor

Albert Eckel, brother of Brian, co-founder of Eckel & Vaughan, lobbies for Corning

Jennifer Adams, secretary to the utility authority board, head of facilities and maintenance at Corning

Woody White, New Hanover County Commissioner, attorney at Woody White Law, campaign contributor, former utility board member

James Blanton, attorney at Woody White Law, campaign contributor


Over several election cycles, Sen. Mike Lee has received more than $13,000 in campaign contributions within these Wilmington circles:

$5,750 from Woody White

$1,000 from James Blanton

$3,000 from Corning

$4,750 from Brian Eckel

$   750 from Rep. Holly Grange

Lee’s campaign also returns the favor:
$2,500 to White
$5,100 to Rep. Grange


Brown and Adams serve on the utility authority board.

Brown and Brian Eckel work together at Cape Fear Commercial.

Albert Eckel’s firm receives a $65,000 contract from utility authority board.

Among Albert Eckel’s previous clients is the American Chemistry Council, whose members include DuPont and Chemours.

Albert Eckels is a registered lobbyist for Corning.

Adams works at Corning.

Sources: NC Secretary of State’s lobbyist directory, NC Board of Elections, LinkedIn, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, company websites