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D.C. group lists McCrory among worst governors in America

Gov. Pat McCrory has been named one of the worst governors in America by a left-leaning citizens group that knocks the former Charlotte mayor for what it calls cronyism and partisan politics.

McCrory dismissed the criticism on Sunday, telling host Dave Wagner on WCNC-TV’s “FlashPoint” show that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington “is a very liberal, activist group. Their goal is to eviscerate me.”

Only two of the 18 governors criticized by the D.C.-based group are Democrats.

Notable national names on the group’s list include Republicans Rick Perry of Texas, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Jan Brewer of Arizona, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Democrat Andrew Cuomo of New York.

In its report, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics highlights McCrory’s appointment of Art Pope, a retail industry millionaire and a former state legislator, to “the most powerful appointed position in state government” – budget director.

During the 2012 election, the group notes, Pope and his family members heavily backed McCrory, giving at least $20,000 directly to his campaign, besides $125,000 to the state Republican Party.

Pope’s Variety Wholesalers also contributed at least $450,000 to three outside groups that spent heavily on behalf of McCrory, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington: the Republican State Leadership Committee, the Republican Governors Association and Real Jobs NC.

McCrory defended Pope on Wagner’s show Sunday, calling him “one of the most brilliant guys regarding the budget I have ever seen.”

McCrory also cited Pope’s commitment to public service, noting how Pope earns $1 a year as budget director.

“It’s political criticism that has nothing to do with the facts,” McCrory said of the group’s report.

The group also noted how, during his unsuccessful 2008 gubernatorial campaign, McCrory cited past scandals in repeatedly saying fundraisers shouldn’t be appointed to the North Carolina Board of Transportation.

Yet, the group said, in February McCrory appointed 10 new members to the board, all of whom were donors or fundraisers to his 2012 campaign. In all, the appointees and their spouses donated $34,894.25, the organization said.

McCrory also named Aldona Wos as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The retired doctor and ambassador to Estonia co-chaired McCrory’s 2012 campaign and donated $5,717.28. Her family, its company, New Breed Logistics, and the company’s employees collectively contributed more than $260,000 to McCrory’s 2012 campaign, the organization said.

He told Wagner that his cabinet has the best combined business experience of any cabinet in the nation.

McCrory acknowledged that he’s been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans but said that’s to be expected because “I’m trying to change the status quo.” He said he faced bipartisan criticism as mayor.

“We can keep getting the same results, or we can change things,” McCrory said.

Marusak: 704-987-3670; Twitter @jmarusak.
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