RALEIGH – On March 15, Minority Leader of the North Carolina House of Representatives, Darren Jackson, held a press conference regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) mitigation agreement. This agreement has been central to an ethics complaint that was filed against Governor Roy Cooper by Civitas Institute on February 14. The controversy over the pipeline mitigation funds led to the General Assembly’s passage of H. 90, which designated the funds for education, per Section 1(a)(b)&(c).
In today’s press conference, Rep. Jackson expressed his dissatisfaction with the General Assembly’s decision to allocate these funds to schools affected by the ACP. According to The Insider, Rep. Jackson’s purpose in calling the conference was to address “the loss of funds to be used for job creation in Eastern North Carolina along the pipeline route.”
Minority Leader Jackson’s press conference shows a peculiar amount of avarice for a $58 million fund that Governor Cooper did not want him to have a say in controlling in the first place,” said Donald Bryson, president of the Civitas Institute. “There are questions surrounding if these funds could be considered an illegal gift under the State Government Ethics Act’s gift ban, but some lawmakers, apparently, don’t want to be bothered with the law.”
Bryson filed a complaint on February 14 with the North Carolina Ethics Commission. This complaint requests the Ethics Board issue an opinion regarding Governor Roy Cooper’s recent decision to join into a Memorandum of Understanding with Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC. Civitas requests that special attention be given to the details surrounding the $57.8 million “slush fund.”
Bryson continued, “Furthermore, there are questions about what law or section of the State Constitution gave Governor Cooper the authority to exact $58 million from a private entity. If Rep. Jackson believes the governor was acting within his power, he should cite which element of the Constitution or specific law gives the governor that power. I can’t seem to find that authority in Articles III or V of the State Constitution.”
Founded in 2005, the Civitas Institute is a Raleigh, NC-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit policy organization that fights to remove barriers to freedom so that all North Carolinians can enjoy a better life.