Cooper, Commerce, Wake County: Transparency’s for chumps

Tyler Dukes at WRAL continues to fight for transparency from the Cooper administration and Wake County officials over what incentives they promised Apple all those many months ago.

It’s well past when public officials should have disclosed that information, as Dukes has reported. But his requests are still being stonewalled:

It’s been eight months since Apple announced it would locate a second campus in Austin, Texas, shocking North Carolina officials actively recruiting the tech company for a rumored expansion in Research Triangle Park.

Yet, state and county officials have maintained their silence over their efforts to land a deal with the tech giant, and they continue to refuse to disclose any records related to the recruitment process, which could commit millions of dollars in tax withholdings to one of the world’s most profitable corporations. …

A company’s announcement that it will relocate or expand in a specific location normally makes many of those records public.

But Commerce spokesman David Rhoades told WRAL in June that state officials consider Apple’s Austin announcement separate from the ongoing recruitment effort in North Carolina. …

Open government advocates have called state’s position a “dangerous precedent,” fearing that officials are abusing existing exemptions in state law to prevent public disclosure indefinitely.

Answers to Dukes’ emails were variants on the same theme:

  • “Sadie Weiner, Gov. Roy Cooper’s chief spokeswoman, did not respond to a request for comment”
  • Rhoades [at Commerce] said “there’s no change in status to report at this time.”
  • “Apple officials did not respond to requests for comment”
  • “Wake County spokeswoman Dara Demi refused to provide any records about what the county may be offering”

This is shameful behavior. The hypocrisy on display is staggering — Gov. Cooper angrily denounces corporate tax breaks and Wake County officials lustily raise property taxes year after year.

But by far the biggest issue is the betrayal of good government: Public officials cannot conduct themselves as if they aren’t accountable to the people, not in a free state.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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