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McCrory Clashes With Associated Press

Courtesy of the Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory’s frosty relationship with the media got a little frostier this week. An Associated Press story on Tuesday accused McCrory of shady dealings with online mortgage company Tree.com. It alleges the governor received a payment while in office and took action that could benefit the company. McCrory’s office fired back against the story and the reporters.

WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined host Duncan McFadyen to sort through the back-and-forth.

MCFADYEN: What do we know about Governor McCrory’s involvement with this mortgage company?

BRADFORD: Governor McCrory was on the board of directors for Tree.com. He submitted his resignation the day before he was sworn in to office. But, the resignation didn’t go into effect until January 31. That day, the Board of Directors vested some stock options—basically gave him stock he was due to get if he stayed on the board, but wouldn’t get by resigning. It was worth upwards of $170,000 at the time.

MCFADYEN: So, what is the AP story saying?

BRADFORD: It cites mostly anonymous experts suggesting it could be improper to give that stock to elected officials. It also accuses McCrory of failing to disclose, when he was a candidate, that he was on the board and suggests he may have had a conflict of interest when appointing banking regulators.

MCFADYEN: And the governor’s office reacted by?

BRADFORD: Right. Blasting out a series of critiques, including a multi-page point-by-point attack of both this story and earlier stories by the Associated Press reporters. McCrory said in a statement: “It was written with malice and the intent to do harm without any factual consideration given.”

MCFADYEN: And without going too far into that point-by-point, can you give a general sense of the governor’s grievances?

BRADFORD: I think it’s mostly that they feel the reporters found certain data points and spun them into this nefarious narrative. So, for instance, the story says McCrory appointed banking regulators and didn’t recuse himself, and kind of lets that point stand alone. But the governor’s office points out McCrory reappointed the folks the previous governor, a Democrat, had put on the board—so, not exactly controversial.

Or, take the accusation that he didn’t disclose his relationship. Well, on that state ethics form, he didn’t write into a box that he was on Tree.com’s board, but he filled out another box that he’d received compensation as part of the board. So, at worst, you’re describing a paperwork error – and the state ethics commission director says they later changed that form because it was confusing.

MCFADYEN: So what’s the fallout from this?

BRADFORD: So far, Democratic groups, including Progress NC have touted it as evidence of corruption. McCrory’s campaign team is already using it for fundraising, saying "the media is at it again.”