Will any of Andy Willis' past lobbying efforts come back to haunt him?
Not likely. As a chief lobbyist for N.C. State and the University of North Carolina system, the newly appointed legislative liaison for Gov.-elect Beverly Perdue was not in charge of too many controversial things.
The only controversial issue he lobbied for was a national biodefense facility in Butner that some residents feared could spread deadly pathogens.
As a spokesman for UNC, Willis said that security concerns were valid, but the facility would be safe, noting that Triangle-area labs have handled hazardous material for decades.
"People are going to drop test tubes," he said in a Dec. 22, 2007, article in the N&O. He compared the facility to "a safe within a 6-inch cement box within a 6-inch cement box in a submarine down in the Atlantic Ocean."
That remark may grate among opponents of the proposed facility, though it's something of a moot point now that the federal government has recommended a Kansas site instead.
In other articles, Willis has been quoted being grateful for state higher education funding, explaining why the UNC system has so many vacant jobs and noting that UNC leaders did not ask for athletic scholarships in the state budget.
An offhand remark in a Jan. 21, 2007, N&O article did draw a complaint.
"I'm not sure business will change that much," Willis said of newly instituted ethics rules. "Even though the perception is that lobbyists wine and dine people, 99 percent of the business takes place at the legislature."
A Carrboro woman criticized the quote in a letter to the editor the next week.