Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory came under fire Monday for supporting Duke Energy in its successful effort to land $204 million in stimulus money.
The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Walter Dalton, questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for McCrory to lobby the Energy Department on behalf of his former employer. And it questioned McCrory's efforts in light of his public criticism of stimulus money.
“At the same time he was criticizing the stimulus in the Wall Street Journal, he was using his mayor's office to try to get a piece of that funding for Duke Energy, his longtime employer,” said Schorr Johnson, Dalton's spokesman.
“I bet he doesn't tell his all the Tea Party groups about the $200 million he helped land when he blasts the stimulus and President Obama,” Johnson said.
While he was still Charlotte mayor in 2009, McCrory wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking for the stimulus money to build an energy internet project.
“This work leverages and builds upon Duke Energy's industry leadership in the deployment of smart grid technologies that maximize energy efficiency, promote resource conservation, and enable customers to make better-informed choices sited to their budget and lifestyle,” McCrory wrote.
But the McCrory campaign said there was no conflict, because he was no longer a Duke Energy employee when he wrote the letter. And the campaign said McCrory's criticism of the stimulus package was specifically aimed at using the money for recurring expenditures, not for infrastructure projects.
“It's hard to believe that Walter Dalton would approve such a ridiculous press release as this, but apparently desperate times warrant desperate measures,” said Brian Nick, McCrory's spokesman.
“Dalton and his political lackeys have consistently missed the mark in questioning Pat's ethics, but in this case they have gone to the outright absurd,” Nick said. “Part was obviously acting in his capacity as mayor of Charlotte in support of a local company's project as did on many occasions.''
“He criticized Governor Perdue's use of one time federal stimulus money for the state because of the potential to create a long term fiscal crisis, which it did,” he said.