SEANC director resigns amid questions about his spending

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The longtime executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina has resigned amid questions about possible financial improprieties at the group.
Dana Cope announced his departure Tuesday.

"In recent days, I've come to realize that in carrying out the duties of my job, I have blurred the line between my personal life and my professional life," said Cope.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Sunday that the association had paid $109,000 in unbid landscaping work to a company that also worked at Cope's home. The article also detailed spending of more than $8,000 for flight lessons for Cope and personal expenses paid with association credit cards that included eyebrow waxing.

Read more from the News and Observer.

Wake County's top prosecutor has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the spending. Cope didn't reference the investigation Tuesday.

"By tendering my resignation today, I take full responsibility for my shortcomings," said Cope.

The statement appears to conflict with a statement of support from SEANC's Executive Committee, which reads: "We maintain that in the course of our investigation into the allegations made against Mr. Cope we have discovered no misappropriation of funds and no financial improprieties."

SEANC's lawyer wouldn't answer questions about the apparent contradiction and Cope didn't expand either.

"My hope is that this will clear the way for SEANC to continue its excellent work for all the people of North Carolina," said Cope.

SEANC's executive committee appointed long-time SEANC employee Mitch Leonard Interim Executive Director. Leonard has been at the organization since 1977 and says he's worked in every job there - except Director.

Leonard said his goal is simple.

"Continue to advocate for public employees and they need a salary increase," said Leonard. "We need to do more with our pension system, and we want to do what we can to stop the cost shifting of the state health plan to the employees. That's what the important part is."

As for how he intended to boost member's faith in the organization and its leadership in the wake of Cope's resignation, Leonard said, "Well, I look at it this way. There's no trust broken with me."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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