NCDP Works to Uncover Truth about McCrory Coal Ash Faxes

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016

CONTACT: Dave Miranda

NCDP Works to Uncover Truth about McCrory Coal Ash Faxes

What else is he hiding?

RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina Democratic Party this morning submitted a public records request to Governor McCrory’s office seeking to learn the nature of faxes from Governor McCrory’s communications office to government agencies. One such fax directed the Department of Health and Human Services to overturn do-not-drink orders for families living near Duke Energy coal ash ponds, despite state scientists’ belief that water near these ponds was toxic. Governor McCrory worked for Duke Energy for 29 years.

For months, the McCrory Administration has contended that the decision to downplay safety concerns and ultimately overturn the do-not-drink orders was made by scientists. But testimony by DHHS Communications Director Kendra Gerlach indicates that that was not the case. Somewhat bizarrely, Gerlach testified that she was faxed instructions to downplay water safety concerns by the Governor’s communications office. A popular form of communication in the late 20th century, it is unusual to see faxes used for casual communications today.

“It now appears that the McCrory administration lied about their decision to downplay water safety concerns near Duke coal ash ponds,” said NCDP spokesman Dave Miranda. “Now we’re trying to figure out what else McCrory is hiding. Why on earth would anyone use a fax machine in this day and age? The only possible answer is that this was an effort to hide public records. We need to find out what other instructions Governor McCrory’s communications staff faxed to state agencies.”

Click here to read NCDP’s public records request on McCrory’s secret faxes.

McCrory’s coal ash scandal began when state scientists unexpectedly inserted language downplaying safety concerns for wells near toxic coal ash sites owned by Duke Energy, despite the fact that no cleanup had occurred. Then 30-year state scientist Dr. Ken Rudo testified under oath that McCrory’s administration had pressured state scientists to declare the water safe to drink. McCrory and his administration denied improperly influencing scientists, and McCrory’s Chief of Staff Thomas Stith accused Dr. Rudo of perjury in a late-night press conference.

Over the last few weeks, the scandal has deepened. Stith recently testified in a deposition that he had not looked at Rudo’s testimony before accusing him of perjury. And last week, DHHS communications director Kendra Gerlach testified that Governor McCrory’s staff did indeed ask scientists to overturn the do-not-drink order, via fax.

While the McCrory administration rarely responds to public records requests, NCDP is working to make public the contents of that fax, and to determine what else Governor McCrory may be hiding by using faxes instead of emails.

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The North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) is the North Carolina affiliate of the Democratic Party. NCDP works to elect Democratic public officials, encourages North Carolinians to become involved in Democratic politics, and fights for equality, opportunity and prosperity for all North Carolinians.