N&O Fact Check: 'Laundry' ad puts distorted spin on McCrory’s work

rchristensen@newsobserver.comSeptember 19, 2012 

This week the Democratic Governors Association and the Republican Governors Associations began their fall ad campaigns in the state in support of their individual candidates for North Carolina’s top elective office. Here’s a look at the facts and distortions in each ad.

“Laundry”

Sponsor: The ad is sponsored by a group called N.C. Citizens for Progress but is financed by the Democratic Governors Association. It is airing in Triangle, the Triad, Asheville, Greenville and Wilmington.

Claim: “Pat McCrory. He just won’t come clean. Refusing to release his tax returns. Or explain why even though he is not a lawyer he is being paid by a powerful law firm that lobbies for big oil, insurance and the financial industry. But what is McCrory’s spin? McCrory: ‘I’m making a living right now.’ So Pat McCrory won’t come clean on his taxes or what special interests he is working for. Why should we trust him to be governor?”

Context: Throughout the campaign, the Democrats have tried to make an issue of McCrory’s somewhat opaque job description. They have also focused on his unwillingness to release his tax returns.

McCrory worked for 29 years as a manager for Duke Energy, a job he left when he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2008. He now works for Moore & Van Allen, a Charlotte-based law firm that is among the largest in the Southeast, with offices in the Research Triangle and a total of some 300 lawyers.

The firm has a lobbying practice in Raleigh, and its clients include Adams Outdoor Advertising, the American Petroleum Institute, Envista Corp, ITT, Microsoft, N.C. Real Estate Investors Coalition, Panthers Stadium, Project LIFT, Stonehenge Capital and Tree.com, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Ruling: The basic facts are true, but the ad suggests the worst – that McCrory is hiding his ties to special interests – without any facts to back up the suggestion.

McCrory is not an attorney, but neither is he a registered lobbyist. He has said he does no lobbying. McCrory’s job title is director of strategic initiatives. He says he works as a policy consultant on issues such as energy, land use and transportation, works to line up clients and does marketing.

It is also true that he has not released his tax returns – he says they area a private matter – but again there is spin at work. Releasing tax returns is not required by law. McCrory has filed a statement of economic interest, which is required, but that provides only broad outlines about his employment.

The record for releasing tax returns is mixed. Dalton has released his tax returns, and some other Republican governors, such as Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Perry of Texas, released theirs. But most past candidates for governor of North Carolina did not release their tax returns.

Christensen: 919-829-4532

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