AP NEWS

The Latest: NC governor says facts on his side over pipeline

November 20, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a report by private investigators examining a mitigation fund linked to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper says the “facts are on our side” when it comes to the legality of creating a special $58 million mitigation fund his office sought from utilities wanting to build a natural gas pipeline.

A private investigation requested by legislative Republicans and released Wednesday declared that information appears to show Cooper “improperly used the authority and influence of his office” to get the fund and put it under his control.

But Cooper told reporters at a pre-Thanksgiving turkey “pardoning” outside Cooper’s residence that a partisan General Assembly “is distorting facts” and knows there’s nothing wrong with the fund.

Cooper says his administration provided tens of thousands of documents to lawmakers and made individuals available to discuss the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. He says he was trying to boost economic development in eastern North Carolina, where the three-state pipeline is routed.

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10:50 a.m.

Private investigators say information they collected appears to show Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper improperly used his authority to make builders of a natural-gas pipeline agree to a $58 million mitigation fund under the governor’s control.

The ex-federal agents released a report on Wednesday to the Republican-controlled legislative committee that hired them a year ago to review the January 2018 side deal between Cooper’s office and utilities working on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Cooper’s environmental department announced a key water permit had been issued the same day the “memorandum of understanding” with the governor’s office was unveiled.

Cooper and aides have said repeatedly the mitigation package wasn’t a prerequisite for the permit. Republicans weren’t convinced, leading to work by the investigations firm.

Wednesday’s report didn’t focus specifically on whether crimes occurred.