As one of the most vocal supporters of fracking, Pat McCrory is pushing an issue that benefits a client of his law firm.
The Republican candidate for governor is a strategic policy consultant at Moore & Van Allen, a Charlotte firm that represents the N.C. Petroleum Council. The council is lobbying to implement fracking, a controversial practice for natural gas drilling, by commissioning a poll buttressing support and touting its benefits at public hearings, including the one Tuesday in Chapel Hill.
The connection is fueling Democrats and liberal groups concerns about whether McCrory is pushing the agenda of his private clients, especially given his campaign and access to top Republican legislative leaders. McCrory denies any coordination.
"He's championing their cause while running for governor," said Walton Robinson, a state Democratic Party spokesman. "I'm assuming because he refuses to disclose anything to the people of North Carolina that he works directly or indirectly for this organization."
McCrory's rivals are asking him to disclose his clients list and tax returns to shed light on his public policy consulting work. McCrory works for a law firm but is not a lawyer. McCrory has refused to release either. He rejects the lobbyist label that Democrats are trying to pin on him and asserts that he filed the required financial disclosure papers with the state.
A spokesman for McCrory's campaign, Brian Nick, said the candidate has "never done any work" for the petroleum council. He also noted that McCrory worked for Duke Energy for 29 years and has supported fracking for years. "Every position he has comes from core beliefs and not from who his law firm represents," Nick said.
Michael Rentiers, a Moore & Van Allen employee consulting the petroleum council, said McCrory did not work for the pro-drilling group. "That team has not had any contact with him," Rentiers said. "We're trying not to mix things."
Lobbying records filed with the Secretary of State's office show the petroleum council retained Moore & Van Allen on March 13.