Making Solar Work (for Cooper): Governor Cooper Appears to Have Mingled Personal Business and Official Duties as Pipeline Scandal Thickens

RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper has been dragging his feet for years as lawmakers and investigators tried to shake loose information about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal, and allegations that the governor abused his power to land a slush fund for himself and a sweetened deal for his crony solar friends. One document, though, is raising more red flags for those looking into the issue.

Said document was part of a huge records dump the Cooper made around Christmas time. It is listed as an email, but appears more like a transcript, with no signs at all that it was ever an email. Investigators and media have requested the actual document in order to clarify, but the Cooper team has played dumb. So what does the document say? Well, it suggests Cooper was mixing personal business interests with his official duties as governor.

From Richmond County Daily Journal:

“[…] In the document, Strata Solar CEO Markus Wilhelm asked Cooper to intervene in a dispute between Strata and Duke over the interpretation of H.B. 589. Strata Solar operates a solar farm on Nash County property owned by Cooper’s family. Duke and Dominion Power are partners in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.

The document (below) was labeled as an email, but it’s formatted like a letter. It doesn’t have address information or the headers, footers, or time signatures a typical email would include. In fact, there’s neither a date nor a time on it. It appears to be a transcript of all or part of another document, but it doesn’t say who prepared it and included it with the 20,000 other pages of ACP documents. […]

The solar dispute was going on at the same time the ACP was trying to secure permits from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. A report from an investigation by Eagle Intel Services says Cooper met with Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good on Nov. 30, 2017, and asked her to resolve the dispute with the solar companies. He also asked her to meet with his advisers and create a fund for economic development. “The Governor added that he wanted Duke and the ACP to complete these requests by the end of December 2017 and do so at the same time the required Water Quality Permit was approved,” the Eagle report said. […]”

When asked to provide the actual document, Cooper’s office demurred. When media asked to interview Cooper’s solar crony friend, or merely provide a copy of the “email,” they also refused to cooperate.

The real question is, just how many thick billows of smoke have to come from the Cooper administration on this issue in order for federal authorities to take a serious look? Media report that the FBI will ‘neither confirm, nor deny’ an active investigation into the Cooper/ACP/Solar scandal.

Read more background on the scandal here.

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