UPDATED: The former chief of staff to House Speaker Thom Tillis filed papers to form a company that became his new government consulting business in early February -- weeks before he resigned under pressure after admitting to an romantic relationship with a lobbyist.
Charles Thomas filed documents reserving the name Third Reading, a limited liability company, with the Secretary of State's Office on Feb. 6. The company is now a government consulting firm.
Asked about the timing, Thomas said his business didn't become official until he received a tax identification number Monday. So why reserve it in February? "Because it's a cool name," Thomas said.
In the past, He said he has filed paperwork to create a company and not formally started the business.
But he acknowledges that he considered opening a government consulting firm upon leaving the speaker's office when the time came. "It's a logical thought process," he said. "There's very few that do this strategic level consulting."
Thomas resigned in April after being questioned by The News & Observer about a romantic relationship with a lobbyists for the N.C. Homebuilders Association.
House Speaker Thom Tillis, who has called the relationship "clearly inappropriate," addressed the matter in front of TV cameras for the first time Thursday. Reporters waited two hours outside his office to get less than two minutes of his time.
The Cornelius Republican ,who shared an apartment with Thomas, said he didn't know about Thomas' company until seeing a post on Facebook at the start of the week. "To my knowledge he filed for LLC but I don't think he did anything until he was officially severed from the state," Tillis said.
Addressing the controversy about severance payments to Thomas, Tillis didn't elaborate much beyond his statement earlier in the day.
"I stand by my statement," he said. "But given the broader context I do believe it's fair."
His statement: “In December of 2010 and January of 2011, Charles Thomas worked without pay and did not accept the State Health Plan benefits for himself or his family during his tenure as Chief of Staff. Amy Hobbs also worked without pay in January of 2011. They both accepted salaries below that of their peers in state government for a period of three months in early 2011 and were instrumental in overseeing the most time-efficient long session in modern history, saving thousands of taxpayer dollars. I accepted their resignations because their personal choices were not acceptable in my office. I recognized that their jobs and careers were forever affected by their choices, and that serious family obligations still existed for each of them. I stand by my decision to accept their resignation while recognizing the difficult transition period they are now entering.”
*This post has been updated to reflect imprecise wording in an earlier version.