• McCrory faces ethics allegations

    By: Jim Bradley

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gov. Pat McCrory is facing new ethics allegations.

    Progress North Carolina Action, a liberal Raleigh-based political group, said the governor failed to report trips paid for by others on state ethics forms.

    RAW: Pat McCrory's exclusive December 2014 interview with Channel 9's Jim Bradley

    It's the third time that McCrory has faced questions about the way he has filled out the Statement of Economic Interest required by the North Carolina Ethics Commission.

    “At this point, we shouldn't take these things at face value,” said Gerrick Brenner, of Progress North Carolina Action. “We have a pattern here."

    The latest allegations involve three trips McCrory took in 2013 to New Orleans in May, Charleston, South Carolina, in September, and Scottsdale, Arizona, in November.

    All three were put on by the Republican Governors Association which confirmed Tuesday that it paid for McCrory's hotels stays and meals.

    McCrory filled out “No” to accepting any scholarship or grant-in-ad worth more than $200 to attend a conference or meeting on ethics forms filed in 2013.

    "If they (Republican Governor's Association) want to pay for governors across the country to come to their partisan political conventions that's OK," Brenner said, "But you've got to disclose it. It's an in-kind gift."

    Other high-ranking North Carolina politicians have reported similar trips on their Statement of Economic Interest forms.  

    Former North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Sen. Phil Berger listed the costs of conferences on SEI's covering 2011.

    Political expert Michael Bitzer said repeated questions about McCrory's ethics forms, even from liberal groups, could grow into a political problem.

    "Maybe this is their way of hurling shots at the governor but at a point the pattern starts to be persistent,” Bitzer said.

    The new questions about McCrory's ethics forms come at the state Ethics Commission considers a complaint already filed by Progress North Carolina Action. By law, that investigation is confidential.  

    Brenner sent an email Tuesday to supporters calling for the governor to allow the Ethics Commissions probe of his actions to be made open to the public.

    Channel 9 received a response Tuesday afternoon from McCrory’s office.

    The statement admits the information uncovered in Bradley's report should have been listed on the governor's ethics forms.

    It said the "Chief legal counsel for the governor had determined that this did not need to be disclosed."

    However, the Governor's Office said it has gotten word from the state ethics commission saying that interpretation was wrong.

    A spokesman said McCrory has "already begun taking the necessary steps to address this situation."

    Full statement from the Governor's Office:

    Gov. McCrory is an active member of the Republican Governor's Association.

    As a member of this organization he regularly meets with governors from across the nation to share ideas and discuss important policy solutions. As is the long-standing practice, the RGA pays for all lodging, meal and travel expenses to their meetings - not the taxpayers.

    During the past two years, the chief legal counsel for the governor had determined that this is proper and did not need to be disclosed on annual ethics forms based upon interpretation of existing law.

    Today, a staff member with the State Ethics Commission advised counsel that the RGA paying for these trips is proper and legal, however, they need to be recorded annually on disclosure forms. Further clarification is being sought from the commission staff in the coming days.

    In the meantime, the governor has already begun taking the necessary steps to address this situation.

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