After multiple investigations and charges of unethical conduct, Governor Roy Cooper is backtracking on his support for a pipeline project that would have brought jobs and economic activity to North Carolina. After it was announced that the Atlantic Coastal Pipeline would no longer proceed, Cooper took the news in stride, even bizarrely suggesting that the loss of jobs and investment in the state was a good thing.
A more likely explanation for Cooper’s attempt at damage control is that he’s hoping to avoid the widespread allegations – backed up by a legislative investigation – that he engaged in an unethical pay-to-play scheme during the pipeline permitting process.
A November 2019 independent investigation found that Cooper had “improperly used the authority and influence of his office” to pressure the pipeline builders to contribute to a fund under his control. Investigators alleged that the Cooper administration approved a permit on the same day that nearly $58 million was deposited into the fund – which many termed as Cooper’s political “slush fund.”
Cooper’s handling of the pipeline even drew a strong rebuke from editorial board of North Carolina’s largest newspaper, The News & Observer, who called for a federal probe to “assess the legality of how the fund was established.”
“Roy Cooper knows that his pay-to-play scheme with the Atlantic Coastal Pipeline is politically toxic, so it’s no surprise he’s trying to spin a major economic loss to muddy the waters.” said RGA Communications Director Amelia Chassé Alcivar. “The Atlantic Coastal Pipeline saga is yet another unfortunate example of Governor Cooper putting his liberal political interests first and the people of North Carolina last.”