Complaint alleges Moore threw weight around to save money on land deal

By: Travis Fain, WRAL, March 5, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. — A watchdog group on Monday accused House Speaker Tim Moore of throwing his political weight around to avoid environmental cleanup costs at a Siler City poultry plant his company sold in 2016.

Three employees at the state Department of Environmental Quality told WRAL News that they never felt pressured, though, to grant Moore’s company a time extension he sought to avoid unearthing and disposing of aging underground fuel tanks on the property in 2014 and 2015. Those employees include the immediate supervisor for Rose Pruitt, the inspector who dealt most directly with Moore, and the head of the permits and inspections branch at the time for DEQ’s Underground Storage Tanks Section.

Monday’s complaint was addressed to the State Ethics Commission, which has merged into the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. That body has staff, but no appointed board due to an ongoing lawsuit between Cooper and Republican General Assembly leaders, including Moore. The Campaign for Accountability also copied State Auditor Beth Wood on its complaint.

Happenstance brought the group into this matter, according to Executive Director Daniel Stevens, who said he initially filed a records request at DEQ for emails between van der Vaart, who may be up for an appointment with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Scott Pruitt, who heads that agency.

DEQ provided emails about Moore’s issue with underground tanks because Rose Pruitt’s last name is the same of the EPA administrator’s, Stevens said.

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