Monday, August 18, 2014

McCrory's lawyer responds about Duke stock

The Observer editorial board on Sunday spelled out the troubling ways Gov. Pat McCrory has handled his ownership of Duke Energy stock. The governor owned a significant number of shares for 15 months after he was elected governor -- a role in which he leads an administration that is supposed to regulate the giant utility. He continued to own the stock for more than two months after Duke's coal ash spill into the Dan River, as he helped formulate the state's response. And he signed an inaccurate disclosure form, declaring that he held no Duke stock on Dec. 31, 2013, when in fact he did.

McCrory blamed the error on Bob Stephens, saying his general counsel misinterpreted the form and thought that it should reflect McCrory's holdings on April 15, 2014, a day after McCrory sold the last of his stock. That explanation does nothing to detail why McCrory thought it was OK to own stock in a company that was at the center of a debate about state regulation of its activities.

On Sunday, after the editorial ran, Stephens sent the Observer a letter in response. Stephens reiterates that he misinterpreted the disclosure form and vouches for McCrory's integrity. Read our editorial here, and read Stephens' response below.

To the editor:

I’m a proud native of the City of Charlotte. One of my first jobs was delivering the Observer when I was in junior high school. I attended the public schools and went on to Wake Forest University for undergraduate and law school. After two years in the U.S. Army, I practiced law in Charlotte for 40 years. I even had the honor of serving as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association.

I also love our entire state. That’s why I accepted the opportunity to serve as general counsel for our former mayor and current governor, Pat McCrory.

I understand a very liberal editorial board constantly challenging our administration on issues such as tax reform and unemployment reform. However, giving your readers the false impression that we intentionally hid the selling of his utility stock is totally misleading and disingenuous. In fact, it was Gov. McCrory that ensured that the media was notified shortly after divesting all of his retirement stock in April and the media reported it.

Let me be perfectly clear, my interpretation of the governor’s annual disclosure form was incorrect. At a minimum, the language is poorly worded. In fact, the ethics commission staff even acknowledged to us that many other public servants have interpreted the question the way I did. But the governor takes all ethics and integrity issues very seriously. Not surprisingly, Gov. McCrory immediately directed us to correct the error following my conversation with the ethics commission staff.

I’m proud of Gov. McCrory’s record of high ethics and integrity during his entire career in public service along with his 29 years as an employee of Duke Energy. In fact, one of the most often repeated directions I hear Gov. McCrory give to members of his administration is: “Do the right thing.”

As a mayor and now as governor, Pat McCrory continues to show strong leadership on issues such as education, economy and the environment. Our administration is holding Duke Energy accountable for the Dan River spill while developing a statewide plan that responsibly addresses a nearly 100-year-old problem. Our state has seen one of the largest drops in unemployment in the nation and we’ve cut our debt to the federal government by more than $2 billion. Teachers are receiving an average raise of more than 5.5 percent, plus longevity pay. And working North Carolinians are keeping a larger percentage of their paychecks.

I’m proud to be a part of this “Carolina Comeback.” I’m equally as proud to work for our own former mayor that now leads our state in the right direction while maintaining the highest of ethical standards.


Bob Stephens

General Counsel for Gov. Pat McCrory


David Godfrey said...

Could you use a smaller font for the attorney's reply? I can still read it but if you just make it about half the size it is now this farce will be complete.

Curmudgeon said...

Mr. Stephens' letter confirms that he has trouble using / understanding English grammar, to wit:

"It was Governor McCrory THAT ensured...."

"A former mayor THAT now leads....."

Who refers to people. That and which refer to groups or things. (grammarbook)

I await the obvious comments from the peanut gallery.

suggestionnboxx said...

> The governor owned a significant number of shares for 15 months after he was elected governor -- <

Why can the article specify the number of months but not the number of shares? "15 months" but "significant number of shares". Selective reporting?

Observer editorial board said...

suggestionnboxx: Because McCrory has not disclosed how much Duke stock he owned -- just that it was more than $10,000. But does that mean $10,001 or $1,000,000? He has not said.

suggestionnboxx said...

(cont) the reader should be provided the info to decide what is "a significant number of shares".

Observer editorial board said...

David Godfrey: Tried to fix font on attorney's reply. Hope that's better.

Archiguy said...

I wonder what the going rate is for falling on your sword?

For George Tenant, CIA Director under Bush Jr., it was a Presidential Medal of Freedom. That's what he got for taking ownership of the worst "mistake" (if you actually believe that) in U.S. intelligence history, that of the "slam dunk" of Iraqi WMD's. Got Bush and Cheney off the hook.

However it permanently stained that medal - it will never mean the same thing again if it could be used for such a cheap payoff.

I suspect Bob Stevens will just want his payoff in cash, however. Or maybe some Duke Power stock!

Alannc44 said...

"However, giving your readers the false impression that we intentionally hid the selling of his utility stock is totally misleading and disingenuous..."

Talk about disingenuous.

Tell us how many shares? Tell us how much of his 401 is in Duke. Or, are you guys "intentionally" hiding that information?

John wood said...

I believe an ethics complaint should be filed against this lawyer. It is not proper for a lawyer to lie on behalf of a client and given that two are involved we also have a conspiracy. Given the importance of this matter, it is inconceivable this was a simple mistake. Furthermore the name calling of the editorial board confirms our governor has the thinnest of skins. We deserve better in this state.

Exit 0 said...

It looks like another case if someone carrying Paddy's jock.

Zon said...

The good counsel fails to understand that in proclaiming the Governor's excuse (a poor one) he admits his own incompetence at satisfying minimum requirements to be a legal counsel. Is he prepared to be disbarred for a basic oversight?