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Gov. McCrory, longtime Cannon friend, shocked and angered by arrest

RALEIGH - Gov. Pat McCrory expressed outrage Wednesday at the news of Mayor Patrick Cannon’s arrest.

The former 14-year Charlotte mayor spoke to Cannon for roughly 10 minutes shortly after 10 a.m Wednesday about the ongoing saga involving control of the Charlotte airport, just a couple hours before his arrest. The news came as a shock, he said.

“I’m shocked, I’m saddened, I’m angry – about the allegations, about the impact that has on a city I dearly love,” he said.

“I'm heartbroken about what's happened and I’m angry at the same time because it’s someone I’ve known for a long period of time and I love this city,” McCrory said in an interview outside an event in Raleigh. “This city has had an incredible reputation for a long, long time about its high ethical standards. The city does not deserve that type of behavior.”

McCrory has known Cannon for 30 years. His brother Phil was Cannon's “Big” in the Big Brother’s program; Cannon was a groomsman in his brother's wedding. McCrory said he helped teach Cannon how to swim at age 13.

“He was very close to me and my family,” he said. “I'm just extremely disappointed and angry.”

In conversations outlined in the criminal complaint, Cannon describes his close relationship with McCrory as an asset. He also touted ties to President Barack Obama and Republican state Sen. Bob Rucho of Charlotte.

Talked about airport

McCrory said his recent conversations with Cannon were about nothing unusual. “The conversations we’ve had were about the airport, city business and state legislation,” the governor said, “like I do with many other mayors and its been a conversation of pure professionalism.”

McCrory spoke to Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes and Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble Wednesday afternoon to reassure them the state would continue its working relationship, including pending economic development projects. The governor said he will visit Charlotte for the MetLife headquarters ground-breaking Thursday. He said he is worried it will hurt economic development opportunities.

“This is a terrible piece of news for the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina. This behavior cannot be tolerated and it cannot happen every again. It’s unacceptable,” he said.

“Being a former 20-year elected official in that city, we used the high ethical standards of our city government as a recruitment tool,” McCrory added. “That's why this makes me even more angry because it destroys a reputation that is well deserved for many, many years.”

Asked whether the pressures of public office are to blame, McCrory bristled. “Pressures of public office are no excuse for any of this type of alleged behavior,” he said.

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