Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday that he meets with businesses regularly and that a June 1 dinner meeting with top Duke Energy executives should not raise concerns.
"I have had continuous meetings not only with Duke Energy but other major manufacturers," McCrory said during an interview on Time Warner Cable News.
Governor, top Duke Energy officials met privately, won't say why WRAL News first reported the June 1 meeting on Wednesday, noting that it included McCrory and his top environmental regulator as well as Duke Chief Executive Lynn Good just after the company pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for its handling of coal waste.
The sit-down dinner at the Executive Mansion came as other coal ash and environmental issues were in play before various branches of state government, including state lawsuits seeking to speed the clean up of unlined coal ash pits and legislative debates over renewable energy policies.
Beyond a statement that gave broad topics discussed such as "economic development," McCrory administration officials have declined to speak over the past six weeks about the meeting or why it included both McCrory's general counsel and Duke Energy's top lawyer. A spokesman for the governor this week could not supply an example of a similar dinner meeting with other businesses or interest groups.
"This is politics at its worst and journalism at its worst," McCrory said.
He added later, "There are always going to be issues going on with the largest companies in North Carolina. When do you not meet with these companies?"
“We stand by our story, which we believe raises some valid questions. There was no political motivation behind it," said News Director Rick Gall of WRAL News.