Sometimes, Gov. Pat McCrory seems to think he’s still the mayor of Charlotte, where big business officials and their representatives on the Chamber of Commerce have traditionally run the city and enjoyed close friendships with a succession of mayors who did their bidding.
So perhaps the governor really didn’t think there was any problem with appearances when he, his environmental officials, his chief of staff and officials of Duke Energy enjoyed a nice dinner at the Executive Mansion in Raleigh last June. The report on the meeting came this week from the WRAL political website.
The meeting demonstrates an amazing lack of awareness, as at the time Duke was in the middle of dealing with some of the fallout from a coal ash spill in the Dan River. The company’s saga with the spill included an agreement to pay a federal fine of $102 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and then a state environmental official wanted to impose a $50 million fine, according to records. The state ended up levying a $25 million fine for groundwater contamination, reduced in September to $7 million.
At dinner in the mansion were Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good, other top Duke officials and the governor’s legal counsel, among others. McCrory worked for Duke for 29 years.
The governor should understand that meetings such as this one just look bad, coming as a company with which the governor had a long-term connection (providing him a handsome livelihood) is in the midst of controversy with different levels of government. If the governor isn’t astute about such appearances, those around him should be.