RALEIGH – Instead of responding to questions from the N.C. General Assembly regarding a $58 million slush fund secured as part of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal, Gov. Roy Cooper has obfuscated, spun, and hoped the story would get drowned out by the news cycle. Leaders of the N.C. Republican Party, however, have different plans apparently, announcing Tuesday that they have formally asked the U.S. Attorney General’s office to open a federal criminal investigation on Cooper.
“The latest request on Tuesday, sent to both Sessions and the local U.S. attorney’s office, asks for an investigation into whether Cooper violated a law called the Hobbs Act.
Dallas Woodhouse, the NCGOP executive director, said it appears that “the governor leaned on these power companies for a $58 million slush fund so he could pay off his environmental buddies and deal with a political problem.”
The Hobbs Act, which the GOP is saying Cooper may have violated, is an anti-extortion law that was originally aimed at cracking down on mob racketeering but in recent years has been used for political corruption cases as well.
Woodhouse on Tuesday mentioned the conviction of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, on a number of charges including extortion. Blagojevich remains in prison, although on appeal a higher court struck down four of his 18 convictions — including the most well-known one, related to his attempt to sell the appointment of Barack Obama’s soon-to-be-empty seat in the U.S. Senate after Obama was elected president.”
The N.C. GOP leaders did not indicate if enough evidence exists to equate to violations of the Hobbs Act, but anecdotally there exists plenty to be concerned about. Legislative leaders called last week for an official hearing on the matter, in which they would have subpoena power to compel testimony by Cooper and/or his aides involved in the deal for the slush fund.
Despite deflections from the Left in the face of the accusations surrounding the governor’s decision to go around the General Assembly and insure funds would be under his control, this story is not going away.
Cooper might do himself and North Carolina voters a favor by appearing before the legislature to answer pertinent questions about the slush fund and exactly why his administration chose to act extra-constitutionally about it all.
Read more about the N.C. GOP request (and a thinly veiled bias toward Cooper) from the News & Observer here.