Another Lucrative Payout

Pat McCrory's stock yield—and why the governor stands to benefit again

The voice of the people (unedited):

“I knew it was not correct. You are an excellent businessman…too smart to lose that type of money. Ignore all these bleeding liberals who never pay for anything but they want, want, want! Merry Christmas, Governor!”

“I guess for our next Governor we should elect someone with no business experience and has never held a job. Someone with no background or any financial obligations or experience. So for our next Governor I submit B Hussain Obama for Governor. He meets all the qualifications that the liberal press seem to embrace.”

“As a government employee I can tell you that public officials have little or no recourse for slander or defamation of character. There is no fair and unbiased reporting. Its all about selling advertising. The love of money truly is the root of all evil.”

“From the state the govt. is in from supposedly going with big corporations , I I'm certainly glad they didn't listen too poor people , just think how broke our A$$es would be !”

“glad you stuck up for yourself!! the media only feeds what we are "supposed" to know to create chaos –”

Drawing conclusions based on Facebook comments is a tricky thing, which I why I rarely dive into that giant pool of dumb. But every now and then, you can derive something from them.

So here’s the depressing lesson from this round, the Associated Press’ reporting of ethically questionable six-figure stock payouts from an online mortgage broker to N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and former S.C. Gov. and current U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford: A lot of people whose interest the AP’s reporting supposedly serves not only accept these kinds of insider deals but applaud them.

The comments above followed McCrory’s response to the AP report, which was quite aggressive; the governor also didn’t hesitate to pivot off the report to raise campaign money. It’s apparent that McCrory didn’t break any specific laws, but that’s hardly the point. He received $171,071 from a business on whose board he sat—and which went out of its way to make sure he received his payout—knowing he was about to take the helm of a state government that regulates mortgage brokers and appoint members of the commission that oversees banking in the state.

Was the payout a direct quid pro quo? Doesn’t seem that way. Also doesn’t matter. It’s still a shady insider arrangement, an issue that at least raises significant questions about potential conflicts of interest and what the governor should have disclosed to North Carolinians.

The basic facts aren’t in dispute. McCrory can claim forevermore that he acted properly, but he still took the money, and he was still the man who then had to appoint the state banking director and eight members of the 15-seat state Banking Commission. It’s something the people ought to know, regardless of whether McCrory broke the law.

That’s what makes the attitude reflected in the comments above pretty disheartening. McCrory was “too smart to lose that type of money.” The episode was a product of the governor’s “business experience.” It’s certainly better for the state to align itself with big corporations instead of “poor people,” because just think of how broke our asses would be.

It’s an attitude that presumes that everybody’s on the take—that everyone should be—and the people who arrange for sweet stock payouts for themselves are just more savvy than the rest of us, and therefore deserve their gains. Ethics, schmethics; the critics are just jealous. You go, Gov’na!

It reminds me of the famous line, usually attributed to John Steinbeck, about “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” It’s hard to hold public officials to a high ethical standard when the people themselves see ethics as just an aggravating impediment to the big payoff they might have coming to them. Besides, we live in an age when “democracy to the highest bidder” isn’t an epithet or nightmare scenario but a simple reality.

Which is why, sad to say, McCrory will almost certainly come out ahead in this game, financially and politically. The game’s rigged. It’ll just be another lucrative payout.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest