In his latest financial disclosure report, Pat McCrory gave North Carolinians yet another reason to view him warily. Acknowledging millions of dollars in assets, McCrory disclosed that he owns hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock from numerous companies. Some of them have direct interests in the policy issues that concern United States Senators, which Pat McCrory aspires to be. As we saw with Richard Burr’s stock-selling scandal, the ownership of stock by congresspeople should be considered inherently suspect.

McCrory’s largest holdings are in a company that should particularly alarm ethical watchdogs. According to his disclosure forms, this active candidate for United States Senate owns hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock in the company Lending Tree. Lending Tree is a frankly sleazy mortgage-rate comparison company that has gotten into legal trouble for unethical business practices. And McCrory himself has already gotten into trouble for his dealings with the firm, failing to list his holdings in the company on a disclosure form early in his term as governor. The CEO of Lending Tree is the largest donor to McCrory’s SuperPAC.

Let’s say McCrory joins the Senate Banking Committee, not an unlikely possibility given his Charlotte roots and worship of big business. It is hard to imagine a more glaring conflict of interest than a former Board Member of a company with hundreds of thousands of dollars of its stock in the bank being able to cast votes on banking issues untainted. His staff did not exactly reassure on this issue, saying tersely that McCrory would follow Senate “guidelines” when voting on issues related to the companies in which he owns stock. Clearly, he will not divest.

But even following Senate guidelines is weak sauce compared to the overwhelming risk of corruption. Corruption in America does not just take place through explicit quid pro quo–in fact that variant of graft is relatively rare. Much more common is regulatory capture, in which politicians’ worldviews become distorted in the direction of sympathy with the industries they are supposed to regulate or check. With large investments in the company and strong ties to Lending Tree, further coupled with his sketchy ethical record as governor and intellectual vacuity, McCrory seems a perfect candidate for regulatory capture.

Anyone who observed McCrory’s term as governor will likely not have much faith in his ability to avoid stock-related moral mishaps. From the very beginning of his term as governor, he was tainted by troubling associations (a cabinet secretary working out of the same office as a lobbying firm), conflicts of interest (usually with Duke Energy), and even explicit quid pro quo’s. He is an incredibly undisciplined politician with a weak sense of duty to the rules and to the truth.

It’s been clear ever since his second defeat that the man has learned nothing from his failed term as governor. He’s as unprincipled and eager to be dragged along by the fringe as he was in his desultory gubernatorial years. Clearly, too, is that he’s learned nothing from the hot water in which Richard Burr found himself for trading stocks. McCrory has never cared about public service. He cares about himself, his ego, and, apparently, his ability to live high and well.


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!