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Controversy with UNC board candidates?

The state Senate is scheduled to vote today to elect eight members of the UNC Board of Governors, the policymaking body for the state's university system.

But some big names on the slate apparently are causing heartburn about potential conflicts of interest.

Among the candidates: Bob Greczyn of Cary, CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, and Paul Fulton, a UNC-Chapel Hill trustee from Winston-Salem.

Fulton, a former business school dean at UNC-CH's Kenan-Flagler Business School, is an organizer of Citizens for Higher Education, a big-spending political action committee that pushes issues for the UNC-CH campus. That group has at times clashed with the UNC system leaders.

Greczyn, chairman of the East Carolina trustees, runs the company behind the state health plan. That doesn't sit well with some, reports Dan Kane.

Ardis Watkins, a lobbyist for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said lawmakers should reject Greczyn's nomination because Blue Cross has a no-bid contract to handle claims for the State Health Plan, which provides health insurance for 667,000 state employees, teachers and retirees. The contract terms could pay the health insurer roughly $120 million a year.

"The 16 universities are a big chunk of state government, and I don't think (Blue Cross) needs to be on the board of a customer of which they have a big contract," she said.

Update: Just before the vote this afternoon, Greczyn withdrew his nomination, along with three others — James, Smith and Williams — leaving the Senate to vote for eight candidates for eight seats. 

More after the jump

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Other names on the slate: current UNC board members Peaches Blank of Tennessee, Laura Buffaloe of Roanoke Rapids, Phil Dixon of Greenville, William Smith of Durham and current board chairwoman Hannah Gage of Wilmington.

The rest of the candidates: John Blackburn of Linville, Mike James of Raleigh, Franklin McCain of Charlotte, former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Burley Mitchell of Raleigh and Joseph Williams of Greensboro.


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