Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has admitted to making a “mistake” and violating a state law regarding ethics and disclosures, an investigation by WBTV has revealed.
Earlier this month, Robinson, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, announced that he would make changes to his 2023 Statement of Economic Interest in order to include a position his wife holds on the boards of multiple charter schools. He failed to disclose his wife’s role, which is in violation of state law.
Yolanda Hill, Robinson’s wife, sits on the boards of American Leadership Academy and Revolution Academy.
Hill’s affiliation with American Leadership Academy had been publicly disclosed but WBTV did not previously have records disclosing her role with Revolution Academy.
According to contracts filed with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), the schools are overseen by their boards but are, or will be, operated by Arizona-based company Charter One. The schools’ operations are overseen by a nonprofit board, but run by a for-profit company contracted to manage the schools. Some members of the North Carolina State Board of Education have previously had concerns with this system.
In NCDPI paperwork, Hill claimed that she “was asked to join the board by Charter One.”
State board of education members have voted twice against approving the charter of American Leadership Academy-Monroe.
Minutes from those two meetings show that Robinson did recuse himself from both votes and from the discussion of the vote during the second meeting.
Since those votes, the state legislature has passed a law implementing a new Charter School Review Board – Robinson would sit on that board, along with other members appointed partly by Republican legislative leaders – to handle charter school approvals.
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill that created the new review board, but it was overridden by the legislature. Robinson was presiding over the Senate on Aug. 16 when the bill was overridden.
While Robinson did recuse himself from the votes approving the charter school where his wife sat on the board, he still failed to disclose the fact that his wife served on the boards of three schools on his 2023 ethics filing. In fact, Robinson filed a “no change” form, which indicates no changes were made since the last time he filed the full form – which was untrue.
A spokesperson for Robinson had scheduled an interview with WBTV for the lieutenant governor to answer questions about this specific story, but canceled the night before the interview was set to take place, according to WBTV.
Instead, Robinson’s team sent a statement calling the violation of state law “an honest mistake” and also claimed that “[t]ransparency and ethics are a top priority” for Robinson.
On Oct. 10, WBTV reported that online records maintained by the N.C. Ethics Commission shows Robinson filed the amended ethics form on Oct. 4.