Last year, we had high drama over then-mayor Patrick Cannon’s arrest and conviction on federal corruption charges. Now, comes word that a federal investigation is touching very closely to another Charlotte politician:
Congressman Robert Pittenger’s family business, Pittenger Land Investments, is being investigated by the FBI, according to Pittenger’s office.
“We confirm there is an inquiry into Pittenger’s former business, which he has had no management role with for 2.5 years,” said spokesman Jamie Bowers. “He turned control of the business over to other family members when he got into office.”
The congressman’s wife, Suzanne Pittenger, is now CEO of the company.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Pittenger, who represents North Carolina’s 9th District, said he is cooperating with the investigation. “The government has requested information and we are very happy to provide it. Our business and personal affairs have always been conducted with integrity and we look forward to resolving the matter as I continue my work in Washington on behalf of the people of North Carolina’s 9th District.”
“This was a number of months ago,” said Pittenger. “The business was absolutely very glad to give them any information they requested. We’re totally certain that they have the answers that they need.”
His spokesman said the investigation has nothing to do with his congressional office or duties.
Pittenger’s official House of Representatives bio says, “In 1985, Pittenger and his family moved to Charlotte where he built a national real estate investment company from scratch.”
The company’s website states that PLI has bought invested in more than $250 million of undeveloped land in four states.
WBTV caught up with Pittenger while he was hosting a previously scheduled town hall meeting in Mooresville Tuesday night. He continued to say he did not know what the investigation was about, just that it began in April.
He maintains he’s done nothing wrong.
“Everything that’s been done, has been done with greatest integrity and I have no concerns whatsoever,” Pittenger said.
From my experience covering the law-and-order beat as a driveby, I can tell you federal criminal investigations are painstakingly slow. They take great pains to ensure they have their target painted into a corner — with no choice but to seek a deal. These things can take months or even years to come to a conclusion. And you don’t hear a peep about their details until they’re ready to make an arrest. (After all, the Cannon probe got started in 2010.)
This may all be totally peripheral to the Pittengers and their business. This may be all about somebody they did business with. But, as a rule, it is never a good sign when the FBI comes knocking on your door seeking your records.