Many years ago, when I was young, impatient and impulsive, (as opposed to now when I’m old, impatient and impulsive) I threw a hammer in a fit of frustration. Unfortunately, I threw it straight into a clothesline and the clothesline threw it back. The claw hit me in the face, almost taking out my eye and leaving me with a cut and a shiner.
The same thing happened to the North Carolina GOP when they requested all of Attorney General Roy Cooper’s correspondence, including phone calls, emails and texts, for the past 14 years. After only four weeks, the Republicans started accusing Cooper of hiding something because their request had not been met. But instead of getting an “Amen” from anybody, they just reminded everybody that Pat McCrory has been stonewalling on requests from news organizations for years.
The hypocrisy of the Republicans’ request has several layers. First, McCrory was elected on a pledge of transparency and instead has made every effort possible to prevent the media and public from knowing what happened in several controversial episodes during his administration. That brings up other campaign pledges he’s made and broken, disconnect between what McCrory says and what McCrory does and there may be a political price to pay.
Second, McCrory and the GOP have been stonewalling for more than a year for very limited information. In July 2013, just seven months into his term, McCrory’s Secretary of Public Safety, Kieran Shanahan left abruptly under a cloud of suspicion. We still don’t know what happened partly because McCrory still hasn’t released correspondence on the matter. We still don’t know all of the information about the coal ash spill because McCrory won’t release the information that was requested more than a year ago. And there are numerous other outstanding requests. So complaining that Cooper can’t get 14 years of records in four weeks just reminds us that the GOP won’t fulfill their requests at all.
Finally, the GOP is the party always complaining about misspending taxpayer money and yet a request of this size will cost the government thousands of dollars. And for what? So the GOP can score political points against their opponent? McCrory has tried to discourage transparency by charging for wages and benefits of the employees who retrieve the records. If Cooper charged the NC GOP for the information, they would be howling. No, they want the taxpayers to pick up the tab for their political shenanigans.
The North Carolina Republican Party thought they could score a minor political hit by accusing Roy Cooper of stonewalling on a massive records request. Instead, they ticked off every news organization that the McCrory administration has blocked from accessing public information. And the party that complains about wasting taxpayer money only holds those standards for people who need government assistance to live, not for political operatives who want to score political points. What a bunch of hypocrites. Thanks for reminding us.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >