Republicans are trying their best to turn the Atlantic Coast Pipeline into a scandal that damages Roy Cooper. Democrats have a scandal of their own aimed at House Speaker Tim Moore. Democrats have a better scandal than Republicans.
The accusations that the GOP is leveling at Cooper are convoluted and hard to follow. Apparently, the Cooper administration asked companies who have an interest in the pipeline to put money into a fund that would offset any environmental damage, give local communities access to the natural gas in the pipeline, and renewable energy projects. That seems like a good idea except that the Cooper administration wanted to control the money. The legislature balked and took control of the fund, pledging any money would go to schools. The conservative Civitas Institute filed a complaint, saying Cooper didn’t have authority to set up the fund in the first place. Republicans have tried to simplify it by calling it Cooper’s slush fund. That’s not really working. It affects a narrow group of people and is more about process and the rules of governing than any personal gain.
In contrast, Tim Moore and some businesses bought a property in Siler City for $85,000 and sold it for an astounding $550,000. Moore also requested that the Department of Environmental Quality wave fines for leaking fuel tanks while he and his partners owned it.
So, the competing scandals are:
- Roy Cooper created a slush fund that might benefit potential political supporters.
- Tim Moore used his influence for sweetheart real estate deal that made him hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Moore is clearly in more trouble than Cooper. Nobody understands what the slush fund is. The legislature now has control of it and the argument is whether Cooper should have set it up in the first place. Everybody understands what a sweetheart deal is. Moore is using his position of power for personal gain. It’s no contest.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline dispute may stay in the pages of the newspaper but it won’t get much further. It’s hard to understand and is largely over since the fund no longer exists. Moore, on the other hand, benefitted personally after asking a favor of a government agency that’s funded by the legislative body he leads. That’s not a good look.