Under the Dome

Fundraisers help McCrory, other governors; Cooper turns to Goldman Sachs

Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. Pat McCrory N&O

Besides Gov. Scott Walker’s publicly announced trip to Raleigh on Tuesday afternoon, where he was to headline a fundraiser for Gov. Pat McCrory, the Wisconsin governor planned to stick around for a big-ticket money-maker on behalf of the Republican Governors Association.

The RGA event at the Carolina Country Club was billed as a reception and policy roundtable dinner with contribution levels ranging from $50,000 to $5,000. Walker, who is vice chairman of the organization this year, and McCrory were to be the hosts.

The campaigns of both McCrory and his challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper, are trying to spin each other’s outside fundraising to their advantage.

The N.C. Democratic Party on Tuesday called a news conference to distribute an email invitation to the RGA event from a professional fundraiser for the governors association, DiAnne Owen Graham of Kansas. In it, she tells potential contributors: “You will find that contributing to RGA yields an incredible return on your investment.”

“What is expected in return?” state Sen. Terry Van Duyn, a Democrat from Asheville, asked at the news conference.

Van Duyn, the Senate Democratic leader, suggested the fundraiser implies a pay-to-play scheme, and said that federal investigations into the McCrory administration’s Department of Health and Human Services raised similar questions. The status of those investigations has not been publicly disclosed.

Jon Thompson, communications director for the Republican Governors Association, dismissed the insinuation and pointed out the Democratic Governors Association also used the word “investment” in a fundraising memo last year.

“That line in Ms. Graham’s email simply refers to the philosophical fact that Republican governors are championing conservative policies of reform across the nation and our donors are excited to invest in and contribute to the RGA so they can help elect Republican governors who are driving reform in their states,” Thompson said in an email.

Graham’s firm, Graham Advisors, received almost $92,000 from the McCrory campaign for consulting services this year, according to his finance statements.

McCrory, speaking to reporters after a bill-signing on Tuesday, said Democrats and national political interests were raising money from the LGBT law to defeat him in November. He said the Walker appearance in Raleigh is a standard fundraising event.

Prior to the Carolina Country Club event, a McCrory fundraiser was planned less than a mile away at the home of Greyson and Garland Tucker, with a top ticket price of $1,000 and a $100 deal for those younger than 35. Garland Tucker is chairman of Triangle Capital Corporation, a finance company, and is the author of books on American conservatism.

Also Tuesday, the McCrory campaign criticized Cooper for traveling to New York City in May to meet with fundraisers from Goldman Sachs with the aid of a national Democratic professional fundraiser.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was scrutinized because she accepted $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs at three events before launching her campaign.

In his campaign kickoff in December, Cooper said as attorney general he has taken on banks, utilities, pharmaceutical companies and others.

Cooper’s trip to Goldman Sachs surfaced in the latest WikiLeaks disclosure of Democratic Party emails.

“It's the height of hypocrisy that Roy Cooper would travel to beg for campaign cash at the altar of the big banks and special interests in New York City while claiming to be looking out for working men and women in North Carolina,” McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz said Tuesday. “Just like Hillary Clinton, Roy Cooper cannot be trusted.”

Cooper’s campaign spokesman, Ford Porter, had this response:

“Governor McCrory and his team are simply trying to distract from the fact that they are down in the polls, lagging in fundraising, and trying to defend a discriminatory law that has cost our state thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO