Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes said Thursday that he’s not concerned about being implicated in the federal corruption investigation of former Mayor Patrick Cannon after FBI agents confiscated records of a lighting company the two politicians ran.
Barnes, suddenly in the city’s leadership spotlight after Cannon’s resignation Wednesday, owned BritTrick Energy with Cannon before they dissolved the company last year.
BritTrick completed only two projects before shutting down, said Barnes, a Charlotte lawyer.
In an affidavit filed Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, the government said it planned to search Cannon’s home and uptown office for a variety of items and records, including those related to BritTrick Energy.
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The affidavit doesn’t mention Barnes by name.
“It does not cause me any concern that (BritTrick Energy) records have been taken,” he said. “Nothing would make me think that I’m in it (the investigation) ... no.”
The completed projects, Barnes said, included replacing lighting in an office building in north Charlotte with more energy-efficient lighting and doing the same at a warehouse in the same area. He declined to name the buildings.
“I’m not trying to hide from the issue, but I don’t know if the client would appreciate me giving the names,” he said. “There were only two projects, and it was taking more time to drum up business than I could devote to it. So we dissolved.”
In 2008, Cannon formed a consulting and business development company called BritTrick LLC that dissolved on March 4 this year. In 2012, Cannon approached Barnes about partnering in BritTrick Energy. “He said he was setting up a lighting company and wanted to know if I wanted to be a part of it,” Barnes said. “I did.”
Beyond the City Council, the two were friends, “but we didn’t hang out together,” Barnes said. Their families had eaten dinner together on a few occasions, he said.
They organized BritTrick Energy in May 2012 and shut it down in September 2013, state records show. The articles of incorporation for that company list Cannon, Barnes and Eric Robinson as members. Robinson couldn’t be reached.
Barnes said he invested no money in the lighting company but worked with a project manager to find projects and hire subcontractors to complete them.
Cannon is not the only local politician that Barnes has gone into business with. In 2005, he and county commission Chairman Trevor Fuller merged their law practices into Fuller & Barnes LLP. That year, Barnes won a seat on the City Council. Fuller also pondered a run at elected office but didn’t file for an at-large seat on the county commission until February 2012.
A month later, the two closed Fuller & Barnes. Now, at least temporarily, they sit atop their elected panels.