RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) – Gov. Pat McCrory’s use of state aircraft to get out of Raleigh during his first two years in office has cost taxpayers nearly $60,000, an On Your Side investigation has found.
WBTV first requested flight records and other travel documents covering McCrory’s first two years in office—2013 and 2014—in early January. The Governor’s Office provided the records in mid-May.
The records show McCrory frequently uses state airplanes to get between Raleigh and his home in Charlotte or the Governor’s western residence in Asheville, even when it means having the plane make extra trips.
On Your Side Investigates reviewed the two years of flight records and flagged any flight that could have been avoided had McCrory stayed in Raleigh: flights with no passengers, flights that carried McCrory’s staff but not the Governor either coming to pick him up or going back to Raleigh after leaving him in Charlotte, or flights that included the Governor but that would have been unnecessary had he stayed in Raleigh.
Our review found 125 flights that fit the criteria: 48 flights with no passengers, 49 flights on which at least one member of the Governor’s staff was aboard without him and 28 flights that included McCrory.
Records show McCrory flies on one of two state airplanes owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Typically, records show, McCrory flies on a King Air-200 twin-engine turbo prop airplane that costs $560 per hour to operate. Records show McCrory also uses the state-owned Cessna Citation II jet that costs $770 per hour to operate.
Invoices provided by the Governor’s Office shows the 125 avoidable flights flown by state-owned jet’s at McCrory’s request cost taxpayers $59,605 in just flight hours, not including additional fees associated with individual airports. Flight manifests show McCrory took a total of 316 flights in 2013 and 2014.
A McCrory spokesman, Graham Wilson, ignored multiple requests to make the Governor available for an interview but did provide a comment Wednesday afternoon, hours before the story was scheduled to be published.
“The Governor is proud to visit his home and office in Charlotte. The current manner of using state aircraft is the most efficient and lowest cost option when it comes to expense and man-hours,” Wilson said. “Not only does it cost substantially more to keep the aircraft and crew at a specific location overnight, but it prevents that flight crew from being available to fly other missions for the rest of that duty day.”