Monday, March 11, 2013

Corporate Welfare & Cronyism, McCrory-Style

Back during  his campaign for governor, Pat McCrory talked much about his dislike for corporate welfare ("economic development incentives"), and criticized his Democratic opponent for considering them necessary.

But last week, McCrory proudly announced that North Carolina would be awarding some $94 million in tax breaks ("and other incentives") to MetLife to relocate part of its operation to Charlotte and Cary. (More was promised by the local governments involved.)

Wait! That reversal of a campaign promise has a back-story. The MetLife deal for tax breaks was "brokered" by blue chip Charlotte law firm of Moore & Van Allen, for whom McCrory worked until about 30 minutes before he was sworn in as governor. Believe me, Moore & Van Allen is raking in plenty on this deal. About everyone is, except the taxpayers of North Carolina and the taxpayers of Mecklenburg and Wake counties.

According to some eye witnesses, McCrory literally ran away from reporters rather than answer their questions about his own involvement in this particularly rank example of "incentives":
McCrory refused to answer any questions about the deal, ignoring reporters' questions as he followed his aides to a waiting car. He took no questions during a similar event Thursday in Raleigh. 
The big jobs announcement resurrects questions about McCrory and his work for Charlotte-based law and lobbying firm Moore & Van Allen. McCrory said last year he performed "client development work" at the firm, but is not a lawyer and had no specific clients. [WTVD]
But wait! There's now a question about ethics and "Executive Order 17," issued by Gov. Beverly Perdue in 2009 after her son took a high-profile lobbying job. Perdue was bending over backward to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. John Frank, in Under the Dome:
The order, which remains in effect, said the governor shall "take appropriate steps, considering the nature of the project and the level of involvement of the consultant, to limit her or his involvement in the project to the extent necessary to protect the public interest." That was especially important "when the impartiality of the governor ... might reasonably be questioned due to a financial, personal, or familial relationship with a consultant or that consultant's employees or agents." 
McCrory and his aides did not consult the State Ethics Commission about whether he faced any conflict of interest because his ex-employer helped negotiate MetLife's incentives offer, spokeswoman Kim Genardo said. The governor's involvement in those incentives "was limited, extremely limited," Genardo said.
(And incidentally, O my brethren, did McCrory even mention, while he was bragging about bringing a mega-corp insurance company to our state, that the MetLife negotiation got started under Gov. Perdue's administration, and at least part of the credit, if any credit whatsoever is due, belongs to her?)

We have a corporate shill for governor who went back on his "no corporate welfare" stance in precisely a New York minute.

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