Under the Dome

Civitas deletes story questioning cronyism in McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute removed his story from the conservative-leaning think tank website last week that was critical about "cronyism" in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration and hit hard at his chief-of-staff.

Francis De Luca's story (cached by Google here) criticized the Republican governor for failing to change "the culture of cronyism and insider dealing in Raleigh" by pointing to his appearance at the Sept. 5 inaugural Minority Enterprise Development celebration. De Luca wrote that the event featured two speakers of a group tied to the coalition behind the "Moral Monday" protests and was hosted by the N.C. Women and Business Enterprise Coordinators Network.

The story noted that network is a client of Capitol Access, a lobbying firm led by Yolanda Stith, the wife of McCrory's chief of staff, Thomas Stith. It went further to say that it "may be that Thursday was not the first time that Ms. Stith’s clients benefited from a cooperative governor," highlighting how her clients budget cuts received only small budget cuts in McCrory's proposed budget. However, state lawmakers ended funding for many of the programs.

De Luca declined to comment Monday about why he removed the story. Stith is a former vice president of the Civitas Institute, which was founded by McCrory's state budget director, Art Pope. Pope resigned from the Institute's board to take the administration post.

It comes soon after Civitas Institute publicly rebuked McCrory for refusing to enforce a new law requiring welfare recipients to submit drug tests. McCrory vetoed the bill but the legislature voted to override. Civitas put up a banner headline asking its readers to tell McCrory to enforce the law. It was recently taken down but De Luca said it was not related to the deleted story. The petition drive "had run its course," De Luca said Monday.

The story about McCrory ended with a barb: "In 2008, then-Mayor McCrory promised to “change the culture” if he became governor: 'I wanted to change the culture of an arrogant government in our state capital: a government that’s been inaccessible, a government that’s been corrupt, a government that’s lacked vision in preparing this entire state for the future and a government that’s actually made a lot of decisions based on politics as opposed to need.'

"Candidate McCrory was right to criticize the effect that political influence and lobbying has on government. Maybe Governor McCrory should go back and read some of his campaign material."

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