“… one of the more blatant power grabs in state history”
- The Charlotte Observer
“…power grab that’s breathtaking in its scope”
- NC State Senator Josh Stein
“The bill would solidify GOP control over how much people pay for electricity, what environmental protections are in place and how fairly employees are treated.”
- Raleigh News & Observer
NC Senate Republicans have introduced a bill (SB10) that would essentially fire all current members of North Carolina’s most important commissions and make profound changes to the make-up of many others. Governor Pat McCrory and state lawmakers would then be able to stack these boards with their own political appointees -– people all too willing to go along with a specific political or corporate agenda rather than having members who represent the public’s interests on these boards.
Affecting Every Aspect of Your Life
The boards and commissions affected by these changes include the Utilities Commission (regulating how much you pay for electricity), the Industrial Commission (administering workman’s compensation and other important programs), the Environmental Management Commission (governing how healthy our communities are), the Coastal Resources Commission (managing development along our coast), the Wildlife Resources Commission (protecting our animal and fish populations), the Board of Education (setting statewide educational policies), the State Board of Elections (deciding who gets to vote) and many more.
Imagine the policies in these areas being set by people who stand to profit from exploitation of these resources or who believe in a punitive, bare bones government that endorses an “it’s every man for himself” philosophy. That could very well be where we are headed.
Opening the Door to Conflicts of Interest
Not only would objective commission members with decades of invaluable experience and expertise in their fields be fired, prohibitions against conflicts of interest that protect the people of North Carolina would be eliminated in several cases. In some instances, Governor McCrory and lawmakers would be able to give all the power on a commission or board to special interests with a financial stake in the very rules and regulations they would be writing and enforcing. Imagine these possible scenarios should the bill become law:
- Real estate developers could form a majority on the Coastal Resources Commission and none of the members would be required to live at or near the coast. The Commission would be freed to pursue aggressive development along our coast, without regard to how it affects coastal residents. Increased traffic, higher taxes, pollution, overfishing and overbuilding all become very real possibilities.
- Polluters could now occupy all the seats on the Environmental Management Commission and could literally end up writing (or eliminating) the rules and regulations that keep our air, water and soil safe from their poisons.
- The Industrial Commission administers a number of monetary pay-out programs involving Workers’ Compensation, court-ordered awards, death benefits for first responders and more. How fair do you think this commission should it become controlled by people who believe that any payment from the government is a hand-out and that people who accept them are moochers?
- Gov. McCrory, a long-time Duke Energy employee with a financial interest in the company, will now have the power to appoint a whole new Utilities Commission – the very board that regulates how much Duke Power can charge for its services. There are rate increase requests pending even now. Who do you think will prevail in front of a commission stacked with Duke Energy allies – you, the ratepayer, or the power company?
Warning: Potential Conflicts of Interest Ahead
(Click chart for larger view)
Don’t let them get away with it! Write your state reps today and tell them you oppose this blatant power grab and sign our petition asking McCrory to reject appointing special interests to North Carolina’s boards!
For more information, see:
Full text of Senate Bill 10: Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act
The Star News Online: Bill aims to sweep out members of several important state boards
WRAL.com: Senate GOP Seeks to sweep oversight boards
The Charlotte Observer: A dangerous power grab at the legislature
The News & Observer: Bill would give McCrory, legislature control of some state boards
Gov. McCrory and Duke Energy have a long-term symbiotic relationship (see below). McCrory is a former Duke employee and as Mayor of Charlotte he often acted in Duke’s interest. Duke has also been a major supporter of McCrory’s political ambitions.
Senator Apodaca is a primary sponsor of SB10 and Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. Apodaca has received $35,000 from the Duke Energy PAC, including the maximum of $8,000 in 2012.
Senator Rabon is a primary sponsor of SB10. He has received $3,000 from the Duke Energy PAC.
Senator Hunt is a primary sponsor of SB10. He has received $19,000 from the Duke Energy PAC, including the maximum of $8,000 in 2012.
President Pro Tem Berger has received $45,000 from the Duke Energy PAC, including the maximum of $8,000 in 2012.
Speaker Thom Tillis has received over $34,000 in campaign contributions from the Duke Energy employees and the company PAC, including $22,000 during the ’11-12 campaign cycle.
The Duke-McCrory Connection
Duke Energy was Pat McCrory’s employer for 29 years and has been a major supporter of McCrory’s political ambitions over the years. There is no denying that the relationship has been mutually beneficial. McCrory and Duke have spoken openly about how it’s a boon for the company to have the mayor on its payroll:
“The first time I came here, Pat McCrory said, ‘I’m the mayor of Charlotte, and I work for you.’ What more could you ask for?” – Paul Anderson, former Duke Energy President and COO [Charlotte Observer, 7/23/97]
“Being able to call on the mayor to lure businesses is clearly a boon to Duke. ‘Obviously that move (to economic development) had a lot to do with his ability, (but) to have him as a mayor is a very powerful tool,’” said Don Hatley, Duke’s retired senior vice president of governmental affairs to the Charlotte Observer. [Charlotte Observer, 10/10/07]
“McCrory’s arrangement clearly benefits him as well as Duke. The company appears to give him wide latitude and uses his status as mayor to help woo corporate customers. Some Duke employees privately grumble that they rarely see McCrory. Some city council members call his Duke salary ‘a scholarship’ that supports his city business. And some critics see a conflict of interest…” [Charlotte Observer, 10/10/07]
“His city office occupies a spacious corner on the top floor of the Government Center, with skyline views and a single computer atop his desk. It belongs to Duke Energy.” [Charlotte Observer, 10/10/07]
Pat McCrory even once testified before Congress—without disclosing his relationship with Duke Energy—against new federal air quality standards that would have cost Duke an estimated $600 million. [Federal News Service, Testimony of Pat McCrory before the House Commerce Committee Health and the Environment Subcommittee and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, 10/1/97; Charlotte Observer, 10/1/97]
Even as McCrory used public office to help Duke Energy, Duke continued to support McCrory’s political rise to the top:
The Duke Energy corporation, its PAC, employees and their families have donated at least $241,800 to Pat McCrory’s gubernatorial campaigns and the State Republican Party since he became the party’s nominee in 2008.
In addition, Duke has given $891,800 in corporate contributions to independent expenditure groups that have spent money on behalf of Pat McCrory. For details, read The Price of Power report here.
Pat McCrory has used his public office to benefit Duke Energy in the past. With SB10 the way has been cleared for him to do it again in the future. What’s to stop him?