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McCrory continues to put the interests of his former employer, Duke Energy, ahead of protecting North Carolina families

McCrory Hosted Private Dinner with Duke CEO And Their Respective Counsels While “Sweet Deal” Was Under Consideration…

  • McCrory met with Duke’s CEO at the Executive Residence and their respective counsels while coal ash settlement was under consideration.  “[W]hile in the midst of pressing legal action against and issuing news releases critical of the nation’s largest utility, top state officials met for a private dinner at the Executive Mansion with Duke executives.”
  • McCrory has not held similar meetings with any other North Carolina companies. “The meeting stands out as unique among nearly a year of entries on van der Vaart’s calendar, and a spokesman for McCrory could not furnish examples of similar mealtime sit-downs with other large companies.”
  • Within two weeks of the June 1st, 2015 meeting, McCrory’s DENR hired special counsel…“[Le]ss than two weeks after the meeting, what was then the Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced it was hiring a special counsel just to deal with litigation over coal ash.”
  • …that had previously worked for Duke to handle coal ash litigation. “[Th]e environment and natural resources agency in June hired a Raleigh lawyer who had represented Duke Energy in a lawsuit brought by environmentalists over groundwater contamination regulations.”
  • McCrory failed to disclose that he owned Duke stock during coal ash spill…  “Gov. McCrory owned Duke Energy stock even as he took action (and inaction) after Duke’s coal ash spill into the Dan River. That created a direct conflict of interest, compounded by the fact that McCrory wrongly claimed that he didn’t own Duke stock at the time.”

… his utilities commission allowed Duke to keep tax break without passing it on to customers…

  • McCrory signed bill to remake the utilities commission as “business-friendly” in time for Duke Energy’s rate hearing.  “The new, more business-friendly Utilities Commission would be in place to decide the next scheduled rate case – that of Duke Energy.”
  • McCrory appointed members of the Utilities Commission. “Appointments are made by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly by joint resolution. The Governor also designates a Chairman to serve a four-year term.”
  • Commission said utilities could “pocket the difference” and continue to charge customers at higher rate.  “In the 4-3 decision, the commission said that even though North Carolina’s corporate income tax rate was cut by the state legislature from 6.9 percent to 5 percent, utilities can continue charging customers at 6.9 percent and pocket the difference.”

…AND McCrory wants his utility commission to decide if customers pay for coal ash clean-up.

  • Duke CEO said customers should pay for coal ash clean-up. “Duke Energy expects its 3.2 million North Carolina customers to pay the costs of closing its ash ponds, CEO Lynn Good said Friday.” 
  • McCrory said the Utilities Commission should decide who pays for clean-up… “McCrory… said the North Carolina Utilities Commission should decide who pays.” 
  • McCrory even adopted Duke’s clean-up plan.  “McCrory’s proposal, released April 16, is similar to what Duke Energy offered to do about its 33 ash ponds after a Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River… Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County, who chairs the House Utilities and Energy committee and is a former Duke employee, called McCrory’s proposal ‘somewhat of a codification of Duke’s plan.’”

BACKGROUND

McCrory and Duke CEO’s Private Dinner with their respective Counsels while “sweet deal” was under consideration 

McCrory and Duke CEO has private meeting at Executive Residence with respective counsel present while settlement between Duke and North Carolina was under consideration. “But on June 1, while in the midst of pressing legal action against and issuing news releases critical of the nation’s largest utility, top state officials met for a private dinner at the Executive Mansion with Duke executives, according to calendar entries and other records reviewed by WRAL News. McCrory, his top environmental regulator, his chief of staff and his general counsel attended, as did Duke Chief Executive Lynn Good, the company’s general counsel and the president of the company’s North Carolina operations.” (WRAL, 1/6/16)

Less than two weeks after meeting on June 1, 2015 McCrory’s Environmental Department hired special counsel to handle coal ash litigation. “Following a February 2014 coal ash spill from a shuttered plant on the Dan River, Duke’s use of unlined pits to dispose of the material left over after coal is burned to generate power came under intense public scrutiny. At the time of the June 1 meeting, the administration was taking pains to show it was taking a tough stand against Duke – less than two weeks after the meeting, what was then the Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced it was hiring a special counsel just to deal with litigation over coal ash.” (WRAL, 1/6/16)

  • Special Counsel that McCrory’s Environmental Department hired to deal with coal ash litigation had previously worked for Duke. “Last week, The Associated Press reported that the environment and natural resources agency in June hired a Raleigh lawyer who had represented Duke Energy in a lawsuit brought by environmentalists over groundwater contamination regulations. Craig Bromby recently advised a state commission on the same issue. He left the Raleigh office of Hunton & Williams in March.” (News & Observer11/19/14)

Neither McCrory or his Environmental Secretary could point to any other similar meeting with a North Carolina company. “The meeting stands out as unique among nearly a year of entries on van der Vaart’s calendar, and a spokesman for McCrory could not furnish examples of similar mealtime sit-downs with other large companies.” (WRAL, 1/6/16)

McCrory has Deep Financial Connections to Duke Energy as a Stock Holder and Former Employer, Duke is McCrory’s Largest Political Contributor. “McCrory worked at Duke 28 years before retiring to make his first run for governor in 2008. In that time, campaign finance reports show Duke Energy, its political action committee, executives and their immediate families have donated at least $1.1 million to McCrory’s campaign and affiliated groups that spent on TV ads, mailings and events to support him. On a state ethics form last year, McCrory indicated that his investment portfolio includes holdings of Duke stock valued in excess of $10,000, though he is not obligated to disclose the specific amount.” (AP2/14/14)

McCrory’s Utilities Commission 

Governor appoints members of the Utilities Commission. “Appointments are made by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly by joint resolution. The Governor also designates a Chairman to serve a four-year term.” (NC Utilities Commission, “History and Description,” accessed 10/8/15)

McCrory signed bill changing terms of Utilities Commission members and “the new, more business-friendly Utilities Commission would be in place to decide the next scheduled rate increase – that of Duke Energy.” “The original House version of the bill would also have exempted the Utilities Commission from the overhaul, but House Majority Whip Mike Hager, a retired Duke Energy engineer, successfully amended the bill to put the agency back in. He argued that it needs to be reconstituted with board members who have experience in the utility industry, business or economics.  Hager, R-Rutherford, noted that the June 30 deadline for the current Utilities Commission will give sitting members time to complete the Progress Energy rate case currently underway. The new, more business-friendly Utilities Commission would be in place to decide the next scheduled rate case – that of Duke Energy. House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes opposed the amendment. ‘If there’s anything that’s not broken in North Carolina, it’s our Utilities Commission,’ he told the committee. ‘I disagree that you have to have industry-related experience to be on the commission,’ he said, noting that the board’s mission is to work primarily for the benefit of the consumer.” (WRAL3/4/13S10)

McCrory “the North Carolina Utilities Commission should decide who pays.” “McCrory, speaking to reporters after the Charlotte conference, said the North Carolina Utilities Commission should decide who pays. He said it’s ‘wrong for politicians to try to override a system that we’ve had in place for decades.’” (Charlotte Observer5/8/14)

Republican utilities commissioners voted to allow Duke Energy to keep tax break without passing it on to their customers. “In the 4-3 decision, the commission said that even though North Carolina’s corporate income tax rate was cut by the state legislature from 6.9 percent to 5 percent, utilities can continue charging customers at 6.9 percent and pocket the difference. A trio of Democrats on the Utilities Commission refused to go along with their Republican colleagues, decrying this month’s ruling as a corporate windfall.” (Charlotte Observer1/26/15News & Observer10/14/14)

HEADLINE: “Duke CEO: Customers should pay ash pond costs.” “Duke Energy expects its 3.2 million North Carolina customers to pay the costs of closing its ash ponds, CEO Lynn Good said Friday. Duke is preparing a response to Gov. Pat McCrory’s request last week that his former employer supply options, costs and other details for dealing with its ash ponds by March 15… ‘Ash pond closure has been a plan for a very long time,’ she said. ‘And because that ash was created over decades for the generation of electricity, we do believe that ash pond disposal costs are ultimately a part of our cost structure.’ (Charlotte Observer3/7/14)

McCrory “the North Carolina Utilities Commission should decide who pays.” “McCrory, speaking to reporters after the Charlotte conference, said the North Carolina Utilities Commission should decide who pays. He said it’s ‘wrong for politicians to try to override a system that we’ve had in place for decades.’” (Charlotte Observer5/8/14)

McCrory Coal Ash Plan “largely adopts Duke’s position when it comes to removing coal ash away from waterways.” “McCrory’s written proposal, a copy of which was released Wednesday evening, would provide Duke with at least three options: remove the ash, cover the ash and leave it in place, or a combination of the two… McCrory, a Republican, worked for Duke Energy more than 28 years prior to retiring to run for governor. The company and its employees have remained generous political supporters to McCrory’s campaign and groups that support him. Peter Harrison, a lawyer with the environmental group WaterKeeper Alliance, said McCrory’s plan largely adopts Duke’s position when it comes to removing the coal ash away from waterways. ‘The governor has left plenty of room for Duke to do nothing more than empty the water out of its ash ponds and cover them with dirt,’ Harrison said. ‘This approach is unacceptable because it would allow these toxic dumps to continue leaking and poisoning our rivers and groundwater supplies with toxic heavy metals for many years to come.” (Associated Press4/16/14News & Record9/14/14)