Patrick Ballantine, R-New Hanover, spent 10 years in the N.C. Senate, and for two of them, he was on the payroll of Image Products Inc. of Wilmington and charged with finding new customers. For that two years of work, he was paid about $11,000.
During that time, Ballantine peddled his wares to a number of trade associations and lobby groups with business before the Senate. Representatives from these groups said that Ballantine was responsible for securing at least three contracts for his employer.
Ballantine admits to meeting with these groups while the legislature was in session but says that referrals he made for Image Products never influenced his vote.
Though Ballantine did not break the law, there are huge ethical problems with conducting such private business while working for the public.
Legislative guidelines say lawmakers are not supposed to use their offices for personal gain, and in this particular case, it is hard to tell where the lawmaker began and the salesman left off.