What the Associated Press Refused to Print in its Misleading and Factually Incorrect Attack on Governor McCrory
AP CLAIM: “McCrory and Sanford deny they did anything improper by accepting the payments from Tree.com, which were not fully described in their ethics statements.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: Governor McCrory properly filled out his ethics statement as required by law. That source of income was previously listed in another part of the 2014 SEI form; therefore, the form is in compliance with the State Ethics Act (See NCGS 138A-24A3).
AP CLAIM: “However, more than a dozen securities lawyers and ethics experts told The Associated Press that such stock payouts are uncommon for elected officials, and raise significant concerns. These experts gave differing opinions about whether laws were broken.
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: What “securities lawyers” and what “ethics experts?” Name them. Not one “expert” was named. These same “experts” said that such stock payouts are uncommon, but it’s the standing board policy of Tree.com to make these payouts. Do these “experts” know that this was Tree.com’s policy? Doesn’t sound like it. And as the AP says itself, this was payment that was in fact ENTITLED. More importantly, the AP even contradicts itself saying, “Early vesting of restricted shares for departing directors is not unheard of in the corporate world.”
AP CLAIM: “AP reported that McCrory, a Duke retiree, held stock in the company as his administration made key regulatory decisions involving his former employer. Those decisions are now the subject of a federal criminal investigation.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: This is an outrageous accusation and this is absolutely incorrect – it is a false statement and was printed and published with malice. The AP is saying that the governor is under federal investigation and that is 100% false. Neither the governor nor anyone he hired has been subpoenaed as part of this investigation.
AP CLAIM: “McCrory declined requests for an interview. In a written statement McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said the governor fully complied with state law and "continues to uphold high ethical standards."
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: The AP reporter who wrote this story had dozens of chances to interview the governor. On one single occasion after letting the governor’s office know about this story, he had 15 minutes of the governor’s time with 3-4 other reporters where he asked two questions that weren’t related to this story.
AP CLAIM: “North Carolina officials are required to disclose their business dealings and their sources of compensation on annual ethics forms. Knowingly providing false information or concealing sources of income is potentially punishable by removal from office and up to eight months in prison.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: What the AP fails to mention here is that the governor did nothing wrong, nor has anyone accused him of doing anything wrong, and he fully complied with state ethics laws.
AP CLAIM: “In a statement, Ellis said that under state law, the governor wasn't required to disclose his cash compensation from Tree.com because he had disclosed his company stock holdings earlier on the form. As for the other omissions, Ellis said the instructions on the ethics forms were unclear.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: The State Ethics Commission recognized that the form needed to be changed and voted at the last commission meeting to rephrase the question on the 2015 SEI form.
AP CLAIM: “McCrory also rebuffed calls earlier this year to disclose the full value of Duke Energy stock he owned following the Dan River coal ash spill.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: The governor properly disclosed what he was required to by state law.
AP CLAIM: “Despite his Tree.com payments, McCrory did not recuse himself from naming the state banking director in the weeks before receiving his special dividend, or from naming eight commissioners to the regulatory agency 18 days later. In addition to licensing mortgage brokers, the commission investigates complaints, which are kept secret under state law unless they result in discipline.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: The governor didn’t need to recuse himself as per state law. Instead, the AP is implying through shifty wordsmithing and editing - that the Governor took actions that benefitted Tree.com - another example of irresponsible drive-by journalism. Further, the governor re-appointed the chair, who was appointed by the previous Democratic governor, and he has over 40 years of banking experience. See what the former Democratic governor who appointed Ray Grace had to say about Commissioner Grace: http://www.nccob.gov/public/docs/News/Press%20Releases/Grace_nomination_press_release.pdf