Pat McCrory criticizes Cooper’s response to Hurricane Matthew, calls for new voter ID law

Former Gov. Pat McCrory called for a “clean” new voter ID law and blasted Gov. Roy Cooper in a speech Saturday to the N.C. Republican Party’s annual convention.

McCrory, a Republican who lost to Cooper last November, had strong words for his successor on Hurricane Matthew relief efforts and on the lawsuits between the governor and legislature.

“Shame on Gov. Cooper for trying to blame President Trump” for the government’s slow response to Hurricane Matthew funding, McCrory said. “Don’t blame someone else for the lack of leadership.”

Cooper had sought $900 million in federal disaster relief money, but so far North Carolina has only received $6.1 million. McCrory said that Cooper has been slow to distribute the Hurricane Matthew relief funding that was approved in a December special session of the legislature.

“The issue’s not money, the issue is action,” McCrory told reporters after the speech. “It takes a governor to speed things up, and right now, there’s no excuse for anyone not having the proper shelter and care since this hurricane occurred in October.”

Cooper spokesman Ford Porter defended the current governor’s work. “Gov. Cooper is focused on creating new jobs, improving our schools, and ensuring that families in Eastern North Carolina have the resources necessary to rebuild from Hurricane Matthew,” Porter said in an email Saturday. “We’ll leave the political punditry to the talking heads and former politicians.”

In his convention speech, McCrory also criticized Cooper’s lawsuits challenging new laws from the General Assembly that curb the governor’s power. The former governor said Cooper is “spending millions of tax dollars on lawsuits to law firms that gave millions of dollars in donations to the current govenror.”

McCrory also took shots at Cooper’s senior adviser, Ken Eudy, who was the founder of the Raleigh public relations firm Capstrat. After joking that “the Russians” were responsible for his loss, McCrory said Eudy is “the only Russian connection in North Carolina.”

McCrory says Eudy’s firm “had a big client in Vladimir Putin.” He noted that Eudy now has an office next door to Cooper and has faced criticism for refusing to stand for the military at sporting events.

Eudy no longer works for Capstrat; it was sold to a larger firm called Ketchum in 2013. Ketchum had a public relations contract with Russia for public relations work until 2015.

The former governor also had advice for the legislature. Republican House and Senate leaders were in the crowd at the NCGOP convention.

“I know for a fact that we had a lot of noncitizens that were voting,” McCrory said. “Ladies and gentlemen, voter ID would have stopped it. Keep it a clean bill, stay with a voter ID law and get that passed.”

A recent audit by the State Board of Elections found 41 noncitizens who cast ballots. They were legal residents who had successfully registered to vote. An ID requirement likely wouldn’t have stopped them. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that it won’t reinstate North Carolina’s original voter ID law; parts of the legal challenge to the law included changes to voter registration and early voting requirements.

Since leaving office, McCrory has been working as a consultant, but he hasn’t named the businesses he’s working for. “I’ve been playing a lot of golf and helping out several companies in areas that I have a passion for,” he told reporters Saturday, adding that he “serves on a couple of boards” and is working “with a foundation.”

“I’m having a lot of fun,” he added.

While McCrory’s speech to the NCGOP sounded much like his 2016 campaign speeches – and it earned him a standing ovation –the governor told reporters he’s not running for any office for now.

“I’ll make a decision about running for elected office much further in the future,” he said.

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