Opinion

McCrory vs. the truth - once again

Was Pat McCrory fibbing then, or is he fibbing now?

For years, McCrory was declared a partner in his brother’s firm. But on state ethics forms, the governor claimed he was merely a consultant, not a partner. There’s a big difference.

McCrory & Company, led by Pat’s brother Phil, made clear on its website what Pat McCrory’s role was. “Pat McCrory is a Partner with McCrory & Company,” the website said. “His major focus is client development, strategic planning and leadership consulting.”

When McCrory was elected governor in 2012, McCrory & Company issued a statement congratulating him. “We are proud to announce that McCrory & Company Partner, Pat McCrory has been elected Governor of the state of North Carolina and will begin his new responsibilities in early January, 2013.”

And, as revealed in a complaint filed this week with the state Ethics Commission, McCrory was declared a partner in the sales consulting company repeatedly in filings made to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Tree.com and Kewaunee Scientific, on whose boards McCrory sat, repeatedly described McCrory as “a partner of McCrory & Company” in their Schedule 14As with the SEC.

But on his statements of economic interest, McCrory called himself a consultant and a contractor. That would distance him from the company, and arguably require less disclosure. His chief legal counsel, Bob Stephens, issued a statement this week pooh-poohing the years of claims that he was a partner.

“… The term partner was used as a working title. The governor has never had any legal standing as a partner with McCrory & Co. McCrory & Co. has never submitted any federal filings that listed Pat McCrory as a partner.”

Sigh. So it depends on what the definition of is, is. In McCrory, and in Stephens’ defense of him, we have just another politician deceiving the public by parsing terms. When McCrory was called a partner, you see, he wasn’t really a partner, they now say.

Let’s take them at their word: McCrory was not a partner. Then McCrory fudged the truth for years, allowing himself to be depicted as a partner when he wasn’t. It is disturbing that he would allow that kind of intentional deception, even if it didn’t seem to be of great consequence at the time.

A little false boasting about a title might barely raise an eyebrow normally. But in this case, it follows a pattern of McCrory blurring his public and private roles. Gov. McCrory owned Duke Energy stock even as he took action (and inaction) after Duke’s coal ash spill into the Dan River. That created a direct conflict of interest, compounded by the fact that McCrory wrongly claimed that he didn’t own Duke stock at the time. Then it was revealed that McCrory stayed on the Tree.com board after he was governor and was paid $171,000 in stock as part of an unusual arrangement with the company.

McCrory may dismiss his McCrory & Company title inflation as mere false bravado, but it is made more disturbing by that pattern. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

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