Just in time for Gov. Roy Cooper's 2020 re-election bid, an investigation raises questions about the Democratic governor's attempt to create a slush fund as part of the approval of a natural gas pipeline.
Investigators hired by the General Assembly concluded that Gov. Roy Cooper used the power of his office to pressure developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline into creating a $57.8-million discretionary fund as a condition of getting an environmental permit for the pipeline.
The conclusion came in a report the investigators delivered to a special legislative subcommittee looking into the pipeline controversy.
You know it's bad when the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer editorial board says there should be an investigation.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper set out in late 2017 to create a “mitigation fund” intended to offset environmental damage resulting from construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that is planned to roughly follow I-95 through North Carolina. But what resulted is a misbegotten fund that’s causing ongoing political damage — for him.
The damage grew Wednesday with the release of a report by private investigators hired by the General Assembly’s Republican leaders. The report, based on research and interviews conducted by the firm Eagle Intel Services LLC, did not find the proverbial smoking gun, but it did find smoke — enough of it that an official investigation is needed to assess the legality of how the fund was established.
Democratic consultant Thomas Mills at PoliticsNC assures us that there's no scandal here:
In this environment, Republicans are desperate for a Democratic scandal. They’ve settled on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They’ve been pushing it for more than a year. They swear there’s something corrupt but they can’t say what.
Of course, this isn't true. The allegation here is that Cooper's administration tied permit approval to Duke's acquiescence to a solar power deal and creation of a slush fund that would be controlled by the Governor.
But hey - Cooper pardoned some turkeys. Which is way more newsworthy!
Pete's Prep: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019 - Ukraine Edition!
Andy McCarthy in the New York Post: "Sondland’s testimony showed the president and Republicans need to rethink their defense. Fortunately for them, they not only have a case, it’s the case they should have been making all along."
FOX News: "GOP Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, hammered America's ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, during Wednesday's testimony, seizing on Sondland's admission that he never heard the president or anyone else in the White House explicitly link Ukrainian aid with the opening of an investigation into 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter."
Ukrainian lawmakers want a probe into Burisma: "Ukrainian members of parliament have demanded the presidents of Ukraine and the United States, Volodymyr Zelensky and Donald Trump, investigate suspicions of the legalization of $7.4 billion by the "family" of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych through the American investment fund Franklin Templeton Investments, which they said has ties to the U.S. Democratic Party." Reuters has more here.
NBC News: "A misleading claim about the head of the Ukrainian energy company at the heart of the House impeachment inquiry went viral across conservative pockets of social media Wednesday, receiving hundreds of thousands of retweets and shares from some of the president’s most ardent online supporters."
HotAir.com: "In her brief opening statement, Hill will offer a strong pushback to the claims peddled by Trump, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and some congressional Republicans that Ukraine may have interfered in the 2016 elections to help Hillary Clinton." However, this 2017 story from Politico refutes that assertion: "Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found."