Saturday, July 8, 2023

SECU Board - Individual Accountability - Ben McLawhorn

Ben McLawhorn Image

Ben McLawhorn 

Ben McLawhorn recently retired as the Audit, Risk, and Compliance Service Director for the North Carolina Office of the State Controller, where he had the primary responsibility for managing EAGLE - the State of North Carolina's governmental accountability and internal control program. Mr. McLawhorn received a B.S.B.A. degree in accounting and information systems from Appalachian State and an MBA from Campbell University. He also holds numerous professional certifications in the areas of information systems security and auditing, and in internal controls and fraud examination. Mr. McLawhorn joined the SECU Board in 2022 and has served on the Audit and Loan Review Committees and advisory boards.
In profiling my experience with the SECU Board, I noted I had worked directly for only 3 of the 11 current members (Mr. Brinson [link 7/4], Mr. Wooten [link 7/5], Ms. Sanford [link 7/6]. I do however know several of the other Board members; and, given the current "new/new" deterioration have an opinion and questions about each of them - and the separate, individual accountability of each to the 2.7 million members of SECU. Believe most folks agree that remaining silent when a wrong is committed, even as part of a group, confers neither defense nor excuse... nor forgiveness.
✅ As you will note from the bio above, no one understands accountability better than Ben McLawhorn. He has fashioned a distinguished career and a statewide reputation out of leading the effort to assure the integrity and responsible control of operations within North Carolina State government - and thereby enhancing the confidence of citizens in their State government. 
One memorable experience with Mr. McLawhorn was traveling to App State to speak at the Boyles Distinguished Lecture Series at the Walker School of Business - an invitation suggested to the University by Ben McLawhorn. For those unfamiliar with Harlan Boyles, he was North Carolina's State Treasurer for decades - the State's top banker, the "keeper of the people's purse". Here's what folks said about Mr. Boyles:

"As State Treasurer and as a public servant in other positions, Harlan Boyles earned the respect of colleagues and peers throughout North Carolina and the nation for his financial acumen, his knowledge and wisdom, his strength of character and especially for his great sense of personal integrity.
✅ The theme of the lecture was "Stewardship", which is that personal responsibility of public servants to maintain their "great sense of personal integrity" despite the pressure, despite the fear, despite the personal costs, despite "what others think". Ben McLawhorn understands accountability, he inherited the mantle of public servant from people like Harlan Boyles! Mr. McLawhorn is - as an SECU Board member - the financial steward of the welfare of 2.7 million North Carolinians.
✅ Under the "new/new" over the last 2 years just in the area of internal controls: 1) the innovative and effective SECU system of internal audit and control (never a scandal, an unblemished streak of clean audit opinions, and never sanctioned by regulatory authorities over 85 years!) has been dismantled and discarded, 2) in 2022 the internal candidate selected to lead SECU audit functions - after a nationwide search - was "forced out" and replaced by the "new/former" CEO's internal auditor from Andrews FCU (you really can't make this stuff up folks!), and 3) the availability of full monthly financial statements to members and staff has been stopped. Let alone the very evident lack of transparency by the Board on issues such as the "no formal formal merger" proposals, "CU Updates" legislation chicanery, open membership, refusal to disclose loan rates to members prior to application on risk-based lending (RBL)...

✅ But this post has gone on far too long, sorry... given that mention of RBL, let's segue to the clincher which hopefully will outrage everyone including Mr. McLawhorn. Recall that the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) back in February, 2023 requested the SECU Board to rescind the introduction of RBL, until a discussion could be held. SECU disregarded the request and went ahead and introduced RBL on March 1, 2023. 
But SEANC pursued the meeting which was held on March 23, 2023, without effect. Prior to the meeting SECU investigated the credit records and credit scores of the meeting participants coming over from SEANC. 
❓What could be the purpose of that sort of look up, especially when the Fair Credit Reporting Act limits access to your credit report by SECU to a "legitimate business need"? What was the "legitimate business need" for SECU in this situation prior to the meeting?
In the past, SECU internal audit and control folks - all employees for that matter - were advised to pursue the following in their work: ✔ Always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. and ✔ Telling the truth takes discipline, telling the whole truth takes grace, and telling nothing but the truth takes courage. 
In summary just: "Do the Right Thing!"
Mr. McLawhorn, why is this happening at SECU? 
... and how much longer can a good steward remain silent?