#ncpol: Team Pope protecting Pat about planes?

art-popeCivitas and The John Locke Foundation have long billed themselves as non-partisan, conservative watchdogs looking out for the interests of the taxpayer.  They went hard after former Democrat governors Mike Easley and Bev Perdue.  But when it comes to Republican Pat McCrory?  *CRICKETS.*

Both organizations are heavily bankrolled by Art Pope, McCrory’s former budget director who is still a big McCrory booster.  We’ve written before about our suspicions that Locke and Civitas are bowing to pressure from Pope and his underling John Hood to cover for Team McCrory.

Under Mike Easley and a Democrat legislature, the Locke Foundation was up in arms about a statewide bond referendum.  Under Pat McCrory and a GOP legislature, they were strangely silent.  But Art Pope came out and called ConnectNC “fiscally conservative.”  What changed?  Why was a bond issue under Easley BAD, but one under McCrory A-OKAY?

Today, Nick Ochsner — the ONLY driveby still doing real reporting — came out with a report questioning Gov. McCrory’s use of a state airplane. I found THIS PART of his story especially interesting:

 […] McCrory is not the first North Carolina Governor to attract attention for his use of state aircraft.a8debd716e511a80938926546f56ab76

In 2008, then-Governor Mike Easley, a Democrat, drew scrutiny for his use of the state helicopter and airplanes to fly back and forth from Raleigh to his home near the coast in Southport.

The details of Easley’s state aircraft use are outlined in a report from the conservative think tank John Locke Foundation.

Like McCrory, the Locke Foundation’s report found Easley often scheduled official events near his home or had the state’s aircraft make connecting stops to his home on his way to or from events.

A spokesman for the John Locke Foundation declined to make anyone available to comment on  McCrory’s use of state aircraft when reached for an interview..[…]

Huh?  Locke felt the need to issue A REPORT on Easley’s aircraft use, but won’t even comment, on- or off-camera, about McCrory doing something similar?

To his credit, Civitas’s Francis DeLuca did offer this up to Ochsner:

[…] Francis DeLuca, president of the conservative Civitas Institute, told On Your Side Investigates he is opposed to the state owning any passenger aircraft.

“North Carolina state government does not need an air force,” DeLuca said. “There’s only really three purposes we think the state should own aircraft for. One would be true law enforcement functions, two would be to fight fires in our state forests and the third would be maybe for transport – medical transport for our state hospitals.”

Instead, DeLuca said, he would rather see the Governor’s Office and other executive cabinet-level agencies given a budget each year to charter private aircraft as needed. Doing that, DeLuca said, would force departments to prioritize the use of private aircraft.Snip20160418_1

“When you have planes, you’re going to invite controversy over their use,” he said. […] 

It does sound like he’s speaking for HIMSELF, and not Civitas.  Though, Mr. Pope and Mr. Hood will still not be pleased.