McCrory's coal ash 'veto' claim during debate doesn't fit timeline
Gov. Pat McCrory addressed for the first time during a debate Tuesday night what was discussed during a private June 1, 2015, dinner meeting at the Executive Mansion with Duke Energy officials.Posted — Updated
At the time of WRAL News' original report on the meeting, McCrory refused to answer questions directly about the dinner. A spokesman would only say topics of discussion included the "economy, the environment, energy and job creation." A spokeswoman for Duke was similarly circumspect at the time.
"I didn't take notes," McCrory said during Tuesday's debate in answer to a question about the meeting. "I'll tell you what was discussed. I discussed that I was going to veto the bill that they wanted." He then recounted, "I said, 'I’m going to veto this thing. It's totally unacceptable, and I’m going to take it to the Supreme Court.'"
From the context of the debate and answers from a McCrory spokesman, it's clear McCrory was referencing legislation that created a commission to oversee coal ash cleanup in the state. That commission would have taken power away from McCrory and DEQ to oversee cleanup efforts. At the time, lawmakers said they were worried, among other things, about McCrory's ability to oversee Duke's cleanup efforts because he had worked for the company for almost three decades.
In continuing his answer, McCrory told Crabtree that Duke "wanted the coal ash commission. They did not want me to veto the bill."
McCrory's answer, however, doesn't fit the timeline of coal ash legislation.
It seems unlikely, bordering on impossible, that McCrory would have been talking about a veto more than a year in advance, when the fate of the original bill was yet undecided.
Asked for clarification, McCrory's campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz said in an email, "The governor made clear that he would fight Duke in the Supreme Court and the legislature. And he did just that – winning in the Supreme Court with the support of Governors Martin and Hunt and later vetoing an effort Duke Energy wanted passed in the legislature that did not adequately protect the environment or uphold the constitution."
Asked if reference to a veto was a misstatement by McCrory, Diaz insisted, "No. As I said, the governor later vetoed an effort Duke Energy wanted passed in the legislature."
Pressed as to why McCrory was only just now answering questions about the meeting, Diaz said, "The governor is focused on fixing the coal ash issue that Roy Cooper ignored for decades as a state government insider, not playing the media's game."
Cooper's campaign focused on the statement in a news release following the debate Tuesday night.
“When asked about his private meetings with Duke Energy executives tonight, Governor McCrory gave an answer that couldn’t possibly be true," said Ford Porter, a spokesman for the Cooper campaign. "So the question remains: Why was Governor McCrory meeting with his former employer, and why won’t he be honest with North Carolina families?”
Copyright 2024 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.