New ethics complaint filed over House speaker’s chicken plant

By: Dan Kane, The News & Observer, January 14, 2019

A Washington, D.C.,-based government watchdog group asked the state ethics board Monday to look into the role a senior aide to House Speaker Tim Moore played in state environmental approvals for a closed chicken plant Moore co-owned.

The Campaign for Accountability obtained emails in late November that showed Mitch Gillespie, who until recently worked as a senior policy adviser on environmental matters for Moore, had sought a status report from state environmental officials on how they were handling the removal of two underground tanks at the Siler City property. One of those tanks had leaked gasoline, requiring the removal of more than 400 tons of soil.

Gillespie’s inquiry came as Moore and his partners in Southeast Land Holdings were two months away from striking a deal to sell the property to Mountaire Farms, a major chicken processor which is now redeveloping the site. Within hours of Gillespie’s request, state Department of Environmental Quality officials said in emails that Southeast would be eligible for a state fund that helps pay for underground tank cleanup costs.

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