Speaker Appoints Subcommittee Members to Investigate Disaster Relief Delays and Pipeline Permit Fund

Raleigh, N.C. – State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) appointed members to the Subcommittee on Hurricane Matthew Recovery Efforts and the Subcommittee on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Thursday, following a vote by the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations to authorize the oversight panels in August. 

Both joint subcommittees were formed after months of unsuccessful inquiries by legislators and the press to Governor Cooper’s administration about hurricane relief delays and allegations of a pay-to-play permit fund related to approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Subcommittee on Hurricane Matthew Recovery

Hurricane Matthew struck nearly two years ago and caused widespread flooding that devastated communities in eastern North Carolina.

While South Carolina has already placed people in more than 100 new or repaired homes with Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DRs), as of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations hearing on August 29 not a single of those projects in North Carolina had been completed.

Earlier this summer, reporting by WBTV revealed that Governor Cooper and his administration ignored the recommendations of their own review panel and attempted to award a multi-million dollar contract to a preferred vendor.

The subcommittee that was authorized to investigate the struggling relief program will look into the decisions that have delayed aid distribution, including why it took the governor six months to re-submit required environmental reviews after the federal government rejected the first set.

The subcommittee will also seek to determine the exact sequence of events that led to the governor’s decision to ignore the expert recommendations and try to award a major contract to one company.

House Members Appointed to the Subcommittee on Hurricane Matthew Recovery:

Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne) Co-Chair, Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), Rep. William Brisson (R-Bladen) , Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake), Rep. Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland), Rep. Brendan Jones (R-Columbus) Advisory Member.

Subcommittee on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Governor Cooper has refused to answer questions from the legislature about allegations of a pay-to-play pipeline permit deal, but reporting by WRAL revealed that Governor Cooper and his administration negotiated a shift in the control of the $57.8 million payout from a career bureaucrat to a discretionary fund personally controlled by Governor Cooper.

During those negotiations, the Governor and his administration delayed a crucial permit.

The day after the pipeline sponsors agreed to pay $57.8 million to Governor Cooper’s fund, the Governor approved the requisite permit.  Both were announced on the same day.

In February, the state House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved House Bill 90 NC Truth in Education with a bipartisan vote of 104-12, distributing the controversial fund to local school systems impacted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

House Members Appointed to the Subcommittee on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline:

Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) Co-Chair, Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) , Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg), Rep. Ken Goodman (D-Richmond), Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) Advisory Member.

Disaster Relief Timeline

  • April 12, 2018: NC has spent $0 of $200 million grant to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew, report says (WBTV)
  • April 16, 2018: Lawmakers have a lot of questions, get few answers about hurricane recovery (WBTV)
  • May 25, 2018: Congress members want Cooper to explain slow distribution of Matthew recovery money (WRAL)
  • May 31, 2018: Where is the money? Hurricane Matthew victims still waiting for relief (ABC11)
  • June 7, 2018: Cooper – Process to fix homes damaged by hurricane ‘taking too long’ (WBTV)
  • July 9, 2018: State misses another deadline for Hurricane Matthew recovery (WBTV)
  • July 24, 2018: Hurricane Matthew recovery grant: $236 million. Projects finished so far: zero (News & Observer)
  • July 24, 2018: Matthew recovery: Two years later, victims still await money (Fayetteville Observer)
  • July 30, 2018: State officials tried to alter bid documents for multi-million dollar hurricane contract (WBTV)
  • August 13, 2018: Cooper checks on Matthew Recovery, but again won’t meet with Fair Bluff residents (WWAYTV3)
  • August 14, 2018: Cooper promises help but can’t give timeline during tour of hurricane-damaged areas (WBTV)