RALEIGH – If it wasn’t enough that Governor Roy Cooper secured a $58 million slush fund that was *totally unrelated*, of course, to the deal to approving the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit, now it is being reported that Cooper, and his family own quite a bit of property along the route of that pipeline.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would run along I-95 through North Carolina comes close to several properties owned or co-owned by Gov. Roy Cooper, but his staff says he will take steps to ensure he and his family would not directly benefit from a special $57.8 million fund for environmental mitigation, economic development and renewable energy promotion.
Cooper grew up in Nash County, and he and his brother, Pell, a district court judge, own roughly 375 acres spread across 13 properties. The governor also owns two other properties totaling 44 acres. Most of these properties are within two miles of the pipeline’s projected path. Land records show nearly all of the properties have been held in the family well before plans for the 600-mile natural gas pipeline were announced. Much of it was passed down from the governor’s late parents.”
Is the Cooper team completely blind when it comes to optics? He arranges for a $58 million “voluntary contribution” to be essentially controlled by the governor and would split its focus between environmental mitigation, economic development, and renewable energy along the route’s path – all while knowing damn well that he owns hundreds of acres of property within two miles of the route?
Of course, Cooper says he would “take steps to ensure he and his family would not directly benefit’ from the slush fund, but what about indirectly?
If properties surrounding the Cooper land holdings are showered with economic development dollars from the slush fund that considerably raise the value of those properties, it stands to reason that the value of Cooper’s real estate would increase as well.
And his family already has a hand in the renewable energy space, apparently.
“Pell Cooper is also a co-owner in another company, Will Clark Properties, that has leased part of a 54-acre tract in Nash County to Strata Solar, which put up a solar farm in 2013. That property is several miles east of the projected path of the pipeline.
As landowners near the pipeline, the Cooper brothers’ properties could potentially benefit from the $57.8 million fund. The governor’s staff says the fund was negotiated independently of the permitting process that led to the pipeline’s approval. Half of the $57.8 million is supposed to go toward mitigating the environmental damage the pipeline will cause to wetlands, streams and wildlife habitats. The rest is designated for economic development and renewable energy projects.”
Hmmmm. Whether or not there was any funny business going on with this fund and Cooper property holdings, this looks horrible for Cooper.
Last week though, the General Assembly passed House Bill 90 that dictated the $57.8 million will instead go to school districts along the path of the pipeline.
Cooper’s spokesperson said the Republican move was pure “shenanigans” but whether or not he will veto it is an open question. The bill, mainly a class-size reform, passed both chambers with big bipartisan majorities.
If Cooper vetoes it, he will effectively be saying he cares more about retaining his slush fund than make sure kids get smaller classes and one-on-one instruction. If he signs it, or lets it become law without his signature, he will, in a small way, be admitting that his slush fund was sketchy in the first place.
The real question, though, is what went on behind the scenes related to the creation of this slush fund and how can Cooper prove it wasn’t related to the issuing of the final permit for construction?
Democrats are shouting that their is ‘nothing to see here’ but can you imagine how this would all go down if it were a Republican governor who did the same thing? Democrats would be calling for jail time and the Leftist media would be giving it front page status with screaming headlines every single day.
As it stands now, the media is covering the issue in a merely obligatory fashion while using the opportunity to play down any notion of foul play. They are circling the wagons around Corrupt Cooper.