Under the Dome

Dome: McCrory, Berger vow follow-up on UNC report

December 22, 2012 

At his news conference Thursday, Gov.-elect Pat McCrory was asked about his reaction to the UNC academic scandal involving no-show classes. The conference was going on just about the same time former Gov. Jim Martin’s report on the situation was being presented to university trustees and a special panel of the UNC Board of Governors.

The governor-elect said he would hold off comment until he had read the report. On Friday, McCrory said he read it and found the results “troubling.”

“It’s not just academic fraud but fraud against the public,” McCrory said in a comment posted on Twitter. “It can’t be tolerated.” He added in a second tweet: “We must ensure future administrations & their boards are held accountable & students are getting a sound education why protecting NC tax $.”

Also Friday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said the Senate would be following up on the controversy.

His office released this statement:

“Gov. Martin’s report raises a number of unanswered questions and reveals a significant and long standing failure at UNC-Chapel Hill to protect its integrity and academic reputation. The people of North Carolina have a long history and proud tradition of support for our public university system. However, erosion of high quality standards and lapses in oversight will, over time, result in an attrition of public support. The North Carolina Senate will exercise its appropriate oversight responsibilities in light of these events and this report.”

2 takes on Art Pope surprise

McCrory on Thursday announced six new hires, but all anyone wanted to talk about was his choice of conservative gold-mine Art Pope as his chief budget writer. Here’s how the pair of Talking About Politics bloggers Gary Pearce and Carter Wrenn saw it from their vantage points as longtime N.C. politicos:

Pearce: “Art Pope is both a good target for Democrats and a good choice for Governor-elect McCrory. Democrats get to skewer him as a rich, right-wing puppet master who will pull McCrory’s strings while running and ruining North Carolina.

“McCrory gets three things: Pope knows the budget in and out. He knows how Raleigh works. And Republican legislators know that he has taken out apostates before, so they’ll be less likely to defy the Governor.

“Democrats, of course, decry what Pope’s role will mean for the state. But elections have consequences, and one is that the Governor gets to pick the people he wants to push his agenda.

“One question remains. Pope says he will sever all ties with his vast right-wing conspiracy, but he didn’t say whether he, his family and their foundations will keep funding it. It doesn’t matter that he’s off the boards but still controls the cash.”

Wrenn: “Pat McCrory called reporters down to the Albemarle building for a press conference and said two words and near about gave liberals from Murphy to Manteo apoplexy.

“He said, Art Pope.

“And five minutes later ole Chris Fitzsimmons was howling on Twitter, The Pope Administration begins ... and about an hour later the Democratic Party ‘Tweeted,’ claiming Pat McCrory appointing Art Pope Budget Director was pure ‘pay to play.’

“Now there’s no doubt Art Pope is serious about Republican politics, but he’s also unfailingly polite and, more to the point, when it comes to ‘pay to play’ he may be the most innocent man in North Carolina.

“After all, can anyone name one single government subsidy, one appropriation, or one government contract Art Pope’s ever sought? He’s even serving as Budget Director for free. So how on earth can the Democrats howl his appointment is ‘pay to play?’

“The real reason the Democrats are having apoplexy isn’t that they’d developed a sudden abhorrence to ‘pay to play’ politics – it’s that Art Pope is dead serious about cutting government spending.”

10 most influential voices

Campaigns & Elections, a trade magazine for politicos, named the top “political influencers” in its latest edition. Ten from each state made it to the list.

Five Republicans and five Democrats, a mix of North Carolina lobbyists and campaign consultants, got the nod.

The five Republicans: John Davis of John Davis Consulting; Tom Fetzer, lobbyist and former Raleigh mayor and state GOP chairman; lobbyist Dana Simpson; the aforementioned Wrenn, who works as a consultant;; and political consultant Chris Sinclair. Davis is actually unaffiliated.

The five Democrats: Political consultant Brad Crone; consultant Mike Davis, strategist Scott Falmlen, a former state Democratic Party executive director; lobbyist Bruce Thompson, and Andrew Whalen, consultant for the Blue Dog Coalition and a former state Democratic Party executive director.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Lynn Bonner

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