Editor's note: This story incorrectly said Gov. Pat McCrory spoke to Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon for roughly an hour just before the arrest. McCrory talked to Cannon for about 10 minutes sometime after 10 a.m. Wednesday.
UPDATED: Gov. Pat McCrory expressed outrage Wednesday at the news of Mayor Patrick Cannon’s arrest.
The former 14-year Charlotte mayor spoke to Cannon for about 10 minutes soon after 10 a.m. Wednesday about the ongoing saga involving control of the Charlotte airport, just a couple hours before his arrest. The news came as a shock, he said.
“I’m heartbroken about what’s happened and I’m angry at the same time because it’s someone I’ve known for a long period of time and I love this city,” McCrory said in an interview outside an event in Raleigh. “This city has had an incredible reputation for a long, long time about its high ethical standards. The city does not deserve that type of behavior.”
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McCrory said he has known Cannon for 30 years. He recalled that his brother, Phil, was Cannon’s “Big” in the Big Brother Big Sister program. McCrory said he helped teach Cannon how to swim at age 13.
“He was very close to me and my family,” he said. He paused, looking anguished. “I’m just extremely disappointed and angry.”
In conversations outlined in the criminal complaint, Cannon describes his close relationship with McCrory as an asset. He also touted ties to President Barack Obama and Republican state Sen. Bob Rucho of Charlotte.
McCrory said he hadn’t read the full criminal complaint. Asked about his recent conversations with Cannon, McCrory described nothing unusual. “The conversations we’ve had were about the airport, city business and state legislation,” the governor said, “like I do with many other mayors and its been a conversation of pure professionalism.”
McCrory spoke to Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes and Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble Wednesday afternoon to reassure them the state would continue its working relationship, including pending economic development projects. The governor said he will visit Charlotte for the MetLife headquarters ground-breaking Thursday. He said he is worried it will hurt economic development opportunities.
“This is a terrible piece of news for the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina. This behavior cannot be tolerated and it cannot happen ever again. It’s unacceptable,” he said.
“Being a former 20-year elected official in that city, we used the high ethical standards of our city government as a recruitment tool,” McCrory added. “That’s why this makes me even more angry because it destroys a reputation that is well deserved for many, many years.”
Asked whether the pressures of public office are to blame, McCrory bristled. “Pressures of public office are no excuse for any of this type of alleged behavior,” he said.
This post has been updated to correct the length of the call between McCrory and Cannon.