Dark-horse NCGOP chairman candidate tied to Pat McCrory, Art Pope political ops


Michael Whatley seemed to appear out of nowhere.  Touting his ties to the 2016 Trump campaign, he’s promising great things for the NCGOP if they just make him their new chairman.



Well, we found some interesting 2016 reporting by some of the more well-known Chapel Hill lefties about Mr. Whatley’s OTHER 2016 activities:


North Carolina’s embattled Gov. Pat McCrory has been criticized for his close relationship with the energy lobby, especially the company where he worked for 29 years, Duke Energy.


A recent Republican fundraising event in North Carolina featuring McCrory and hosted by an energy lobbyist has renewed scrutiny of McCrory’s ties to energy interests, and raised fresh questions about the relationship between the governor’s re-election campaign and outside political groups.


The Raleigh event planned for Oct. 7 was organized by Real Jobs NC, a political group founded by Art Pope and other Republican mega-donors in 2010. According to an email invitation obtained by TV station WRAL, the event aimed to raise money for “hard hitting ads” against Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, with McCrory slated to appear as a “featured guest.”


Because of Hurricane Matthew, McCrory ended up not attending the event. But that he was even invited in the first place posed several legal and ethical questions, the first relating to whether the event violated state election laws.


After the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that loosened limits on corporate and union donations to political groups, lawmakers established a range of federal and state rules aimed at creating a firewall between candidates and super PAC-style committees. North Carolina’s statuteprevents outside political spending that’s “in concert or coordination with” a campaign.


Nationally, candidates and committees have increasingly pushed the boundaries of coordination laws, causing federal and state lawmakers to propose new rules clarifying what is and isn’t allowed.


As for the Real Jobs event, North Carolina election officials say that it’s not clear whether McCrory’s planned appearance would overstep state laws, but it certainly walked into a gray area.


Amy Strange, deputy director for campaign finance and operations at the N.C. State Board of Elections, told The News & Observer, “It is unclear whether Pat McCrory is coordinating with Real Jobs NC to benefit his campaign, but appearing at the event could generate questions about potential coordination.”


Big Energy connections


Also notable was who sent the invitation for the Real Jobs NC fundraiser. The email came from Michael Whatley, a partner in the national energy lobbying firm HBW Resources.


Most North Carolinians probably haven’t heard of HBW Resources, but behind the scenes its lobbyists have been intimate associates of McCrory, especially in his push for offshore drilling.  […]


Real Jobs NC was a dark money group initially established in 2010 to fuel the GOP takeover of the NC General Assembly.



The lefties also have another piece about some — in their view — questionable lobbying efforts by Whatley’s company:


[…] Based in Houston, the Consumer Energy Alliance was created and operated by HBW Resources, a high-powered lobbying firm that represents energy interests, and it gets funding from industry groups including the American Petroleum Institute.


A Facing South investigation published last year found that HBW Resources and the Alliance have been instrumental in running the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, a group led by Pat McCrory (R) of North Carolina that promotes oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic Coast. The Alliance disclosed its role in directing the Coalition, which includes governors from eight other states, only after Facing South and others revealed their involvement.


Now the industry-backed Alliance is facing allegations that it engaged in potentially criminal activity in its efforts to promote the Nexus Gas Transmission Pipeline in the Midwest. Opponents of the pipeline project say that a slew of letters submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) shortly before a public comment period closed in August were generated by the Alliance, and included potentially hundreds of names from people who didn’t consent to their names being used — and in some cases, people who aren’t even alive.


Terry Lodge, an attorney representing groups opposed to the pipeline, and pipeline opponent Paul Wohlfarth were tracking the comment letters submitted to federal officials and began contacting signers.


One letter allegedly in support of the pipeline came from a man who died in 1998. Another came from a woman who suffers from dementia and whose son said she would have been unable to write such a letter. In all, Wohlfarth spoke with 14 people whose signatures or those of family members were found on pro-pipeline letters to FERC but who said they did not sign them. He found 200 other letters with very similar language, leading him to suspect the number of fraudulent letters could be higher. […

The NCGOP is already in a mess — thanks to a  leader who appears to have played fast and loose with campaign finance and other laws.

10 thoughts on “Dark-horse NCGOP chairman candidate tied to Pat McCrory, Art Pope political ops

  1. A special interest lobbyist who has never held ANY office in the North Carolina Republican Party is NOT what we need for a chairman. The state chairman’s job is NOT an entry level position.

  2. This is the Tea Party versus the corporate “establishment”! The Truth versus Money! Make no mistake about it! I am a Capitalist but, detest corrupt, crony Capitalists! We North Carolinians have a ripe opportunity to turn the Republican Party around and reestablish the NC State Constitution, The Constitution for The United States of America, The Rule of Law, our Sovereignty from the District of Columbia!

    1. “Energy” is a big area. If he is working for the Green Energy scam- Big Solar and / or Big Wind, that more than neutralizes any plus from working for oil. But the huge negative is that he is a lobbyist. That we don’t need. Lobbying is very well paid. One has to wonder why he would take a much lesser salary at NCGOP. What other game does he have afoot? Or does he expect the NCGOP to pay him at the same rate he would get as a lobbyist?

        1. Lobbyists are part of the swamp. We do NOT need the swamp running our party. And NOBODY should start out at the top without ever participated in the party structure before. Finance types have made poor party chairmen in the past, examples being Bob Bradshaw and Jim Hastings. Hastings at least understood that he should get a handle on the organization side and spent a term as Watauga County GOP chairman before running for state chairman, but that did not help. Our outstanding state chairmen in the past have always come from the organization side – Frank Rouse, Dave Flaherty, and Jack Hawke, and funny thing, even though they were from the organization side of the party, all of them did outstanding at raising money. Hayes is supposedly from the finance side, but he has not set the world on fire with fundraising, and has been a disaster from the organization standpoint. What fundraising he did seems to be of the corrupt variety.

  3. Speaking as an individual Concord voter I am distressed by the information floating around that some of the NCGOP Chairman candidates are looking at the job as a part time honorarium type of job. Working with a new Executive Director, raising funds and recruiting new staff in conjunction with the new ED I look on it as pretty much a full-time gig until after the 2020 election The NCGOP, President Trump and the RNC deserve no less. We have not had this for several years and it hasn’t worked out very well. Interested in the thoughts of others including Concord Convention delegates who will elect our new Chairman in Concord on June 8.

    1. Which one of the candidates are wealthy enough to do this fulltime for eighteen months for no pay? And is that the kind of candidate we really want? Isn’t that what we have now?

      1. Rick- “Wealthy” is a relative term. There is just one candidate for the NCGOP Chairman’s race who has a mature (grown) family situation, a steady retirement income, the discretionary time and the bandwith to work 60+ hours a week for the NCGOP. That one candidate already lives within an easy commute from the NCGOP HQs in Raleigh and does not require a salary to do the job. He is also the only declared candidate who has no business or financial-related conflicts in serving. So far as I know, there is only one candidate who does NOT intend to make the position a part-time job, working remote from Raleigh and turning over most of the heavy lifting to a full-time ED. That same candidate has a solid track record of winning elections in democrat-dominated areas, and has the backing of rank-and-file, grass roots Republicans all across the state. Moreover, that candidate is the only one with C-level credentials as an accomplished sales executive closing $100M or more in business for a major corporation- experience that is vitally important for future NCGOP fundraising. I could go on and on…suffice it to say, there is just ONE candidate who fills that bill.

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