Lanny Wilson, the fundraiser and developer who was once on the short list to run the state transportation department, has resigned his position on the transportation board.
Wilson, a Wilmington developer and lawyer, was a key money man for the campaigns of former Gov. Mike Easley and Gov. Bev Perdue. He was unknown to many in North Carolina, until he testified in a State Board of Elections hearing that he gave large checks to the Democratic Party that he expected would be in turn given to Easley's campaign.
Such funneling would violate limits on donations to individual candidates. Wilson was the main financial backer of several coastal developments, including the Cannonsgate development where Easley bought a lot at a six-figure discount.
"After much consideration and thought, I am stepping down to avoid any further unnecessary distractions that would only serve to impede the progress of your reform efforts with the Board and Department of Transportation," Wilson wrote.
Buzz around that state when Perdue was picking her cabinet was that Wilson was on the short list. Senate leader Marc Basnight advocated for Wilson, saying that Wilson raised money for campaigns because he genuinely cared about North Carolina.
"Lanny has so much to give this state. He's smart and he understands the department very well. I believe he could reorganize the department in a fashion that we would get much more out for our money," Basnight said.
Perdue accepted the resignation and thanked Wilson for his service.
Update 3:20pm: The governor now will be responsible for picking Wilson's successor to represent Division 3, which includes New Hanover and five other southeastern counties.
Wilson has not resigned his seat as vice chairman of the N.C. Turnpike Authority, to which he was appointed by Basnight. Wilson has been a champion of one of the Turnpike Authority's pending projects, the $1.3 billion Cape Fear Skyway in Wilmington. He participated by telephone in the turnpike board's monthly meeting Wednesday.
Wilson Lanny Resignation.pdf