Durham, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory continues to maintain he properly reported a payout from Tree.com, telling an Associated Press reporter Monday that the news agency's story presents a "false impression" of his dealings with the company.
The story stems from McCrory's time in the private sector between his unsuccessful run for governor in 2008 and his winning bid that landed him in office at the beginning of 2013. During that time, McCrory served on the board of Tree.com, the Charlotte-based parent of Lending Tree.
Normally, as a director of the company, McCrory would have had to serve out his term on the board before he would be entitled to own certain stock tentatively granted to him. However, he took his oath of office and resigned from the company's board before that stock had vested.
The AP reported last month that McCrory accepted stock that was converted from that restricted form to common shares worth $171,071 as of Jan. 30, 2013, weeks after he took the oath of office but the same day he stepped down from the Tree.com board. McCrory also received another $10,063 in payments from Tree.com that same year, despite no longer being on the board.
The news agency has questioned whether McCrory properly reported those benefits on state ethics forms. McCrory maintains that he has, although those forms appear to reflect stock ownership and not a direct cash payment.
"You continue not to correct your mistakes," McCrory told the AP reporter, Michael Biesecker, after the governor spoke to an economic forecast forum in Durham.
Biesecker pushed McCrory to confirm that he received the payment from Tree.com, to which McCrory said, "I stand by my facts as you stand by your story." He then cut off further questions about the Tree.com story.
A spokesman for McCrory later clarified that McCrory had, in fact, received the payment and believed he was responding "yes" to a question about the payments.
During a later exchange after some intervening questions, McCrory told Biesecker, "Read our response, which is pretty substantial."
That response from the McCrory administration was itself unusual. The governor's communications staff took the extraordinary step of not only answering the questions raised by the AP in writing but assembling a 34-page dossier on Biesecker critical of his work covering the administration.
None of those written responses address the question posed Monday, which is whether McCrory actually received the payment noted in the AP report.