RALEIGH – A watchdog group named ‘Campaign for Accountability’ has filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission against N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore alleging that he used his pull to get preferential treatment from the Department of Environmental Quality relating to a land deal.
“The records that were produced, however, combined with the unaccountably missing record, suggest that Speaker Moore persuaded DEQ not to engage in an enforcement action for violations of state environmental law, allowing him to reap significant financial gain.”
The issue involves a property Moore and partners bought through a company named Southeast Land Holdings. The property was a poultry operations SLH bought out of bankruptcy and subsequently sold for a handsome profit. The complaint alleges that Moore used his influence to get special treatment in the form of extensions and waivers granted to empty and remove old buried fuel tanks on the property.
As much as the Leftist media would love for there to be a bombshell cronyism scandal involving the Republican Speaker of the House, their own reporting reveals that there is no ‘there’ there.
“Three employees at the state Department of Environmental Quality told WRAL News that they never felt pressured, though, to grant Moore’s company a time extension he sought to avoid unearthing and disposing of aging underground fuel tanks on the property in 2014 and 2015. Those employees include the immediate supervisor for Rose Pruitt, the inspector who dealt most directly with Moore, and the head of the permits and inspections branch at the time for DEQ’s Underground Storage Tanks Section.
Both supervisors acknowledged the issue was forwarded all the way up to Donald Van der Vaart, then head of the state environmental agency. Word came back down that Moore’s case should be handled like any other, emails indicate.”
Missing from the records request, apparently, were communications outlining points to grant Moore’s company another extension for disposing of the tanks. This is evidence of corruption and the power of pull, according to the Campaign for Accountability, despite employees up and down the totem pole indicating that they in no way felt pressured to treat the Moore issue any differently than any other case.
If that weren’t enough, an email they did receive in the records request describes exactly why DEQ granted a second extension.
“Mr. Moore requested an extension of 90 days to remove the tanks and provided proof that the tanks had been emptied of product,” Pruitt said. “Based on that information, we granted him an extension.”
A spokesman for Speaker Moore called the complaint a ‘meritless election-year ploy.’
“”As the public records demonstrate, the Siler City project was a private property redevelopment handled properly by a state agency,” Moore said in his statement. “DEQ and their underground storage tank division dealt with the project as they would any other business, and we complied.””
If you’ve followed intra-governmental politics over the past several years, you’d know that there is not a whole lot of love between Republicans and rank and file employees at the state environmental agency. Naturally it is staffed with a lot of environmentally-minded Democrats that have demonstrated their distaste for Republican policies of deregulation and the ‘business-friendly’ atmosphere engendered by the McCrory administration, during which this review took place.
If there was even a smidgen of a power play involved here, plenty of DEQ employees would have lined up to call it out. Instead they assert that no such power play happened.
Still WRAL gives it a full dress down, when all evidence seems to refute the allegation of ethical impropriety.
Making the matter more interesting, however, is the fact that the State Ethics Commission has no actual appointees because Gov. Roy Cooper took the General Assembly to court over it’s reform and combination of a new State Elections Board. No ruling can even take place on such matters because Cooper feels the need to litigate at every turn in order to leverage is bully pulpit for political gain.
If you want to learn more about the details of the complaint and the underlying case click here. First in Freedom Daily would jump at the chance to shine a light on real examples of corruption by our politicians, Republican or Democrat, but this case is much to do about nothing.