"Sunshine Week" Ethics Question for Gov. McCrory: Who Paid for Your Trip to Las Vegas?
Gov.-elect Pat McCrory (left) and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (right) speak at a Republican Governors Assoc. conference in Las Vegas in November of 2012. McDonnell is now serving a federal prison sentence.
One week after Gov. McCrory admitted to failing to disclose seven free trips in 2013 which were paid for by other groups and included luxury hotel stays hosted by partisan political organizations with unknown corporate donors, ProgressNC Action is calling on Gov. McCrory to explain who paid for yet another junket - a trip to Las Vegas just after his 2012 election.
The admission raises questions about other trips which Gov. McCrory did not report on his ethics forms, such as a Republican Governors Association conference he attended in Las Vegas fewer than two weeks after his 2012 election. According to the event’s agenda, corporate sponsors paid thousands of dollars for “special access” with governors like McCrory and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
Meanwhile, the News & Observer reports that Gov. McCrory is refusing to allow the State Ethics Commission’s inquiry to be open to the public. McCrory’s refusal is an inauspicious observation of “Sunshine Week,” the annual campaign for transparency in government, but it’s par for the course as the governor steadfastly opposes transparency in Raleigh.
“Gov. McCrory may have operated under the assumption of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director for Progress NC Action. “But given the clear pattern of McCrory failing to disclose gifts of free travel time and time again, McCrory needs to come forward and come clean immediately to answer the question: 'Who paid for your stay in Las Vegas?'”
Progress NC Action has now filed two ethics complaints in regards to Gov. McCrory’s repeated omissions of conflicts of interest from his Statements of Economic Interest. The first complaint filed in January raises questions about McCrory’s failure to report ownership of Duke Energy stock and failure to report income from Tree.com after he was sworn in as governor. Tree.com paid McCrory over $185,000 after he was sworn in but before he made appointments to the Banking Commission which regulates Tree.com. The second complaint filed last Monday raises questions about free hotel stays at political conventions.
One week ago, Gov. McCrory’s administration admitted the governor was gathering information on past years and “will be updating past SEI forms.” But one week later, the public has heard nothing else on the topic from McCrory. And McCrory has only eluded reporter questions about the option he has to make the pending ethics inquiries open to the public.
“This stonewalling shows that Gov. McCrory is more interested in doing what he can to make this story go away than he is in bringing sunshine and transparency to his conflicts of interest,” said Brenner. “We have a clear pattern that begs the question, 'What else is McCrory hiding?' The Ethics Commission should move forward with an investigation to determine if these repeated omissions of conflicts of interest have been intentional and if a crime has occurred.”