Pay to Play

We found out on Friday why the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory has taken such a dim view concerning actually filling public records request. The Raleigh News & Observer dropped a bombshell of a story that had been erected on the back of meeting minutes, memos and text messages turned over to the paper as part of an investigation into whether or not McCrory intervened on behalf of a campaign donor to secure a prison maintenance contract that was set to expire.

The minutes of the 2014 meeting show that the donor, a wealthy Charlotte banker who’s taken up privatizing maintenance contracts for state prison facilities, told those present that, in so many words, he’s donated to political candidates over the years and it was “time he got something in return.”

For his part, the governor said he was “in a side conversation” and didn’t hear the statement, because if he did, he would have ended the meeting then and there.

McCrory did end the meeting by having his budget director look over the issue. In the end, the donor got the contract renewed, over the objection of cabinet members who said the privatized contract didn’t really save the state any money.

Overlooked in a lot of this is the last line of the meeting minutes, where the donor states that the savings will come from not having to pay retirement benefits for state employees.

It’s an insidious set of circumstances all the way around.

The state GOP clamored on about the paper’s “Rolling Stone-style journalism” and attacked the parent company’s stock price, but never actually addressed why the FBI is investigating the governor.

That might be important. Republican majorities in Raleigh have devastated the safety net for the poorest among us. It was chilling to see the rhetoric of privatization so clearly at work on the inside. !

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