by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gov. Pat McCrory is defending himself over documents that showed he failed to disclose ownership of Duke Energy stock in a filing with the North Carolina Ethics Commission.
"It's misleading and it’s a mischaracterization of our attempt to be transparent," McCrory said.
Before he became governor, McCrory spent nearly 30 years working for Duke Energy, so his ownership of Duke Energy stock isn't surprising.
But a Statement of Economic Interest filed on April 15 failed to report McCrory's investment in Duke Energy.
McCrory said it was a well-intentioned mistake.
He said he sold the stock which was in his retirement 401K earlier in the year and thought because he no longer owned it he didn't need to report it.
In fact, the Ethics Commission form requires information about all investments over $10,000 that were owned as of Dec. 31, 2013.
The omission by McCrory has taken on added significance because the governor has been involved for months with negotiations with Duke Energy over how to dispose of coal ash stored across the state.
Duke Energy has agreed to move it in the aftermath of its highly publicized spill of millions of tons of coal ash into the Dan River last February.
Political experts said McCrory's political opponents are likely to try use the Ethics Commission omission against him.
"It is becoming problematic for the governor," said Michael Bitzer. "Democrats are going to pick up on this."
Bitzer said earlier criticism of McCrory's ties to big business and Duke Energy will be fueled by this issue.
"Within the context of the coal ash spill and the governor dumping the stock, it certainly makes the public image one of concern," he said.
McCrory said its much ado about nothing.
He points out that earlier this year he said publicly he was selling his investments in Duke Energy.
He said when his attorneys realized they'd incorrectly filled out the Ethics Commission form they filed a correction.
"There were so many reports of me being requested to sell the energy stocks to clear any possible conflicts of interest. I actually did it. (Then) I told the public I did it and of all things, I'm being criticized for it," McCrory said.
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