It’s getting hard to keep up with all the conflicts of interest inside the McCrory Administration. The latest troubling news comes in an Associated Press story revealing that McCrory’s environmental agency has hired a former lawyer for Duke Energy to advise the administration on regulations about coal ash that affect the company.
The lawyer, Craig Bromby, had represented Duke on exactly the same issue before he was hired by the state. AP reports that Bromby was sitting in the front row at the recent Environmental Management Commission with state regulators checking with him before making suggestions about the wording of proposed groundwater regulations.
The AP also reports that Bromby is the second former Duke lawyer hired by the Department of Environmental Natural Resources as a result of the massive coal ash spill into the Dan River and the revelation that all of Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds are leaking into the groundwater.
An administration spokesman said there is a “wall of separation” between Bromby and issues affecting Duke and coal ash, though apparently somebody forgot to set the wall up at the latest EMC meeting.
And of course, there’s McCrory own long employment history at Duke which is hard to overlook as his administration continues to respond to the Dan River spill and the other leaking ash ponds.
For a while after the spill, McCrory often defensively pointed out that his administration was the first one in history to sue Duke Energy on environmental issues.
But he always neglected to mention that the suit was filed to override suits by environmental groups that sought to force Duke to clean up the leaking coal ash ponds and move the toxic waste to lined landfills where it would be far less likely to leak into the groundwater.
Then the McCrory Administration reached a settlement with Duke that included a small fine but required them to do nothing to address the leaking ash ponds.
That’s the lawsuit McCrory used to cite to show his independence from the company, one that essentially protected the company’s interests by halting suits by environmentalists.
Now he’s moved on to hiring the company’s lawyers to help him regulate their and his former employer and expects folks to have aith in the alleged wall of separation.
The latest news about the close ties of environmental regulators to the company they are now regulating comes at the same time we also learned about the conflicts of interest in the new private economic development nonprofit created to recruit new business to the state.
One of the new members of the board of the nonprofit is a Greensboro attorney who also heads up a shadowy political group with close ties to McCrory that raises anonymous contributions from corporations to further McCrory’s political agenda.
And it’s not just McCrory’s political opponents who are pointing out the ethical problems. Well-known Republican political consultant Carter Wrenn also recently detailed the obvious conflicts of interest in the folks overseeing the coal ash regulations in blog entry titled, “You can’t make this up.”
No you can’t, but we should have seen it coming. This is the administration after all that hired young former McCrory campaign staffers with no health care experience for highly paid positions in the Department of Health and Human Services, and gave a lucrative personal services contract to an executive with the company run by Louis DeJoy, the husband of HHS Secretary Aldona Wos.
DeJoy and employees of his company have been significant contributors to McCrory’s campaign.
No wall of separation there or anywhere else in this administration that McCrory promised would be the most transparent in history as he campaigned against the “culture of corruption” in Raleigh.
That seems like a time ago.