On the campaign trail, Pat McCrory continues to claim that he’s never had an ethical lapse or a conflict of interest. But this website has pointed out quite a few including his employment at a lobbying firm and his failure to disclose his energy employer to the U.S. Congress while testifying on clean air regulations.
But here is more evidence of McCrory’s sketchy ethical record, brought to you by the North Carolina Supreme Court. McCrory may have even perjured himself in the process.
When McCrory was Mayor Pro Tempore in Charlotte he voted to condemn part of a family farm so that Duke Energy could build a water treatment plant pipeline. The condemnation was challenged by the farm owner and the case went all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
While the farm owner lost in the end, the evidence suggests that Pat McCrory knowingly acted in favor of his employer – Duke Energy – while failing to disclose his conflict of interest. Conservative Republican Justice I. Beverly Lake takes Pat McCrory to task in his dissenting opinion from THE CITY OF CHARLOTTE v. J. ERNEST COOK. Lake writes:
The record evidences multiple Duke Power internal e- mail messages and memoranda reflecting that Duke Power and the City collaborated to have the City acquire a fee simple title to the property in order that Duke Power could provide the power to the plant. These e-mail messages indicate that the mayor pro tempore of the City, an employee of Duke Power, as well as the project director had contact with Duke Power officials and discussed condemning a fee simple interest for the project. The mayor pro tempore chaired the 12 September 1994 City Council meeting where the subject of condemning a fee simple was discussed, and he voted in favor of a fee simple condemnation.
The plaintiff in the case argued that McCrory’s action constituted a conflict of interest and therefore unduly influenced the city’s decision to condemn the property. From the plaintiff’s brief:
Mayor Pro Tern McCrory (1) did not excuse himself during the City Council’s discussion regarding whether to condemn fee simple (or an easement) to the Cook Property despite his conflict of interest based on his employment with Duke Power Company, (2) did not remark on his conflict of interest, (3) actually chaired th.e majority .of the City Council’s discussion regarding whether to condemn fee simple title to the Cook Property, and (4) even voted in favor of the condemnation…
Ernest and Ruby Cook submit that the City of Charlotte changed its position as to the water pipeline from an easement to a “fee simple” taking at the behest of Duke Power Company. Until Duke Power Company made contacts with a City Council member (pat McCrory), the CMUD Director (Doug Bean), the Director of City Real Estate Department (Craig Long), the Plant Project Manager (Tom Vandeventer), and the City Attorney (Laura Kratt), the project was designed with only “easements” for the water lines.
The Duke Power internal emails are even more damning by suggesting Pat McCrory knew about land deal before the council took up the issue for a vote: (emphasis added)
Email from John Freeze on 3/22/94
The “unofficial deal” is that if this goes through, the county will provide them with the property that they need so we can serve the plant. Ben does not see a problem with this. I thought you may want to touch based with Pat McCrory or someone on the council to make sure they understand the whole deal. The council is to vote on this oissue on the 28th of March, next monday.
Reply from Larry Shephard on 3/22/94
I will contact Pat McCrory to let him know what this is about. He may be able to influence others, but he will most likely have to not vote given the possible conflict of interest.
Email from Larry Shephard on 3/28/94
I spoke with both Ella and Pat regarding the CMUD effort to get the City to agree to request fee ownership of the right of way for the water intake line across County property. They both understood and were appreciative of the notice.
Worse yet, Pat McCrory’s own affidavit in the case claims he had no knowledge of Duke’s interest in the property.
4. That, to the best of my knowledge, each time a matter involving Duke Power Company’s interests has appeared on the City Council’s agenda, I have been careful to excuse myself and not participate in the discussions or vote in these matters.
9. That I had absolutely no knowledge that the Duke Power Company had any interest in the Cooks’ real property. That I was not made aware of Duke Power Company’s potential interest in the Cooks’ property until months after the September 12, 1994 City Council meeting.
10. That had I known that Duke Power Company may have had an interest in the Cooks condemnation matter, I would have excused myself from the potential conflict of interest as I have always done in the past.
The email evidence suggests Pat McCrory knew of Duke’s interest in the farm property well before the vote was taken and in direct conflict with his sworn affidavit. Did McCrory perjure himself?
At the least, we can all let Pat McCrory's claims of ethical sainthood lie dead on the floor, once and for all.
Cross posted at WhoPaysMcCrory.com.