Charles Elson studies corporate governance for a living and is one of the nation’s experts on the subject of boards of directors.
He has almost never seen a situation like the one involving N.C. Treasurer Janet Cowell.
“Very unusual. I’m not familiar with (anything like) it,” Elson told the Observer editorial board on Monday.
Tuesday, shareholders of specialty insurance company James River Group Holdings will gather in Bermuda to vote on adding Cowell to its board of directors. That follows Cowell’s joining the board of ChannelAdvisor in February. The state Ethics Commission approved, but Elson and other critics say Cowell’s arrangement is improper, and we agree.
“Dale Folwell has the experience to manage our members’ retirement funds wisely,” said Tony Smith, chairman of the SEANC Employees Political Action Committee. “It concerned us when his opponent indicated he thought the current status quo of management of the retirement system was acceptable. We feel confident that Folwell will operate the office for North Carolina and not for Wall Street.”
State Treasurer Janet Cowell sought the opinion of the State Ethics Commission before she agreed to serve on the board of directors of e-commerce technology company ChannelAdvisor.
The commission, in a formal advisory opinion issued Feb. 12, ruled that the State Government Ethics Act did not prevent her from serving on corporate boards of directors or from accepting “compensation, food and beverages, and travel expenses directly related to that service.”
Unemployment insurance (UI) reform in North Carolina continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. The 2013 UI reform, made possible by the Republican-dominated General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory, will enable $240 million in tax savings for state employers in 2016 alone, thanks to a UI Trust Fund that has grown to over $1 billion. In addition, the Tar Heel State’s 2013 tax reform bill will once again lower the corporate income tax rate, from 5% to 4% (it was 6.9% prior to 2013).
NICE: Dale Folwell, who recently left his post as head of the state Division of Employment Security. He helped institute reforms that cut down on fraud, while making the agency more responsive to people who have lost their jobs. Folwell also oversaw the early repayment of more than $2.5 billion in debt to the federal government, leading to massive tax relief for employers.