Conflicts of Interest over Duke Energy Stock Extend to General Assembly
Lawmakers with financial ties to Duke Energy should simply recuse themselves from the debate over the General Assembly’s sweetheart deal on Duke’s coal ash spill
RALEIGH -- Gov. Pat McCrory has been scrutinized for his financial ties to Duke Energy. But as the General Assembly prepares to vote on a coal ash deal that doesn’t clean up all the toxic lagoons, it turns out that several lawmakers have conflicts of interest with Duke Energy as well.
According to 2012 Statements of Economic Interest, five currently-serving lawmakers reported holding Duke Energy stock or receiving income from the company in 2012:
- Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke)
- Rep. Robert Brawley (R-Iredell)
- Sen. Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg)
- Sen. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson)
- Rep. Joe Tolson (D-Edgecombe)
People could normally check 2013 SEIs to see whether any lawmakers reported Duke stock or income more recently, but the State Ethics Commission’s website is currently down. That timing is convenient given the ongoing controversy over Gov. Pat McCrory’s own SEI, which falsely reported that he did not own Duke Energy stock as of the end of 2013.
“There is nothing necessarily nefarious about owning Duke Energy stock,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress North Carolina Action. “But as the politicians in Raleigh consider legislation which could saddle ratepayers and taxpayers with coal ash cleanup costs, everyone should acknowledge that General Assembly members who own Duke stock now face a conflict of interest. Members who own Duke stock should disclose the value of their holdings and recuse themselves from the coal ash debate and committee and floor votes.”