Questions are being raised about the $58 million that Governor Roy Cooper has at his disposal to direct toward purposes he deems worthy. The company that is building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in eastern North Carolina is apparently giving that amount of money to the governor during approximately the same time frame it received state approval to build the natural gas pipeline.
Critics have called the $58 million a "slush fund" that arose because of a quid pro quo. But it could even be worse. We cannot rule out the possibility that this might be a de facto extortion.
There is some interesting language in the North Carolina State Constitution. Article V states the following:
Sec. 7. Drawing Public Money
- State treasury. No money shall be drawn from the state treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law, and an accurate account of the receipts and expenditures of State funds shall be published annually.
Of course, Cooper can claim the monies are not being deposited in the state treasury. But what gives him authority to maintain a separate fund apart from the treasury?
This is yet another example of the governor's deeply ingrained issues with personal character. He will continue to behave in this manner if the Republican majorities in the North Carolina General Assembly do not hold him accountable. They have the remedy of impeachment and removal from office at their disposal.
The Republican need to convene hearings in the General Assembly as soon as possible and take sworn testimony from officials of the pipeline company. They need to elicit precisely the details and circumstances, and what overtures were directed at them to make this particular "donation".
Perhaps the only other person who could theoretically hold Cooper accountable is the county sheriff; but that somehow seems extremely unlikely. Obviously, SAG Josh Stein won't lift a finger.
It is up to the Republicans in Raleigh to make this right. But it seems the only thing that concerns them these days is drawing district lines. They certainly are no longer interested in delivering conservative reform. But they can at least assert their constitutional powers to clean up this mess, and deliver a message to Governor Cooper that he will never pull this kind of mischief again.
Here is an interesting dynamic. What would the socialists' reaction be if Trump had pulled this kind of maneuver at the federal level to get his wall built? We would be hearing wails from the media/left complex incessantly. But since one of their own has done it, the reaction is much more muted.