Catching you up on the latest:
• Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper held a press conference slamming the General Assembly for interfering in the pipeline deal. He said he didn’t know who was initiated the negotiations. Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, held his own press briefing immediately after Cooper’s saying the governor still hasn’t addressed how the governor could deal with the $57.8-million fund without legislative approval.
• Thursday morning, “NC SPIN” host Tom Campbell’s weekly syndicated column said the negotiations began in July 2017 and were led by the NC Farm Bureau. His sources told him the money was to pay for the potential environmental and other costs associated with building spurs or hookups from the main pipeline to industrial sites or other locations along the route. CJ was the first media outlet to report on Campbell’s column.
• Late Thursday afternoon, Cooper’s chief of staff Kristi Jones wrote a letter to the Rules Committee chairmen of the House and Senate, echoing Cooper’s complaint of General Assembly meddling. It also identified senior counsel William McKinney and senior adviser Ken Eudy as the lead negotiators for the governor.
• Thursday evening, the latest CJ exclusive reported that the constitutional questions surrounding the pipeline deal persist. Former legislative counsel Gerry Cohen said it remains unclear if the money should be considered state funds (which would have to go through the appropriations process before they could be spent) or were something else. If they’re something else, Cohen wondered why the governor was involved at all with an arrangement that appears to be between private parties. Meantime, Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee the top House agriculture appropriator, wasn’t happy the Farm Bureau kept him unaware of the negotiations. Dixon, a retired hog farmer, said he planned to investigate further.