McCrory denies involvement in MetLife incentives

Posted March 11, 2013 2:59 p.m. EDT
Updated March 11, 2013 5:59 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday that he played no role in a deal to attract insurance giant MetLife to North Carolina in exchange for more than $90 million in state incentives.

MetLife announced Thursday that it would consolidate operations from six states into a global technology campus in Cary and a U.S. retail business campus in Charlotte. The $125.5 million investment would bring about 1,300 jobs to each of the two North Carolina campuses.

In return, the state offered MetLife a rebate of state withholding taxes of up to $87.2 million over 12 years, a $2 million grant from the One North Carolina Fund and community college worker training programs estimated at $4 million. Wake and Mecklenburg counties and Cary and Charlotte also are likely to provide other incentives to the company.

MetLife hired Charlotte-based law and lobbying firm Moore & Van Allen to broker its deal with the state. McCrory worked for the firm before he was elected in November.

It's not clear when MetLife hired Moore & Van Allen, but the company began discussing a move to North Carolina about nine months ago – while McCrory was still employed by the law firm.

"My commerce secretary led that recruitment effort," the governor said Monday, adding that his first involvement came with a phone call to MetLife's chief executive last week after an agreement had been reached.

"There's no doubt that (incentives) was a factor in their decision-making. To what degree, I don't know," he said.

McCrory said the state Department of Commerce is reviewing how incentives are used to recruit new and expanding businesses as part of an overall examination of North Carolina's economic development strategy.

While at Moore & Van Allen, he said, he schooled lawyers on the complexities of transportation, environmental and other issues facing municipalities and helped recruit some clients. He said he didn't work directly with MetLife or any other clients.