This week, we take a look at the claims of former governor and current Republican candidate for the US Senate, Pat McCrory. Speaking on WBT radio last month, McCrory accused one of his opponents, US Republican Ted Budd, of “ripping the farmers off.” McCrory also suggested that Budd was using the money that was owed to the farmers to pay attack ads criticizing him. To assess whether this is true or not, WFAE Morning Edition host Marshall Terry talks to Paul specht of WRAL.
Marshal Terry: Paul, there’s quite a bit of stuff to unbox here, so let’s start with the basics. What is McCrory referring to when he claimed that Budd used money owed to farmers to pay for attack ads?
Paul Specht: Years ago the Budd family was involved in a seed business, and that business was called AgriBio Tech, and Budd’s father, Richard, eventually took over that business. Well, he was in bad shape when he took over. And so Richard Budd, Ted Budd’s father, got a $ 10 million loan, which he lent to AgriBio Tech. This loan did not save the business. The company filed for bankruptcy. But before that, the company paid off the Budd family’s loan.
Now some people are saying, Hey, that money should have been used to pay the farmers who had donated their seeds to the company for distribution and sale. This does not happen. If people are going to read the story, The Washington Post has a great detailed history on this., they will see that many farmers were not paid for their work. So that’s the controversy here. Budd’s father was in this business. He loaned her $ 10 million before she went bankrupt. The company repaid its loan. But some farmers were not paid properly for their work.
Now it’s fair for McCrory or whoever to point out, hey, you know, maybe the loan repayment shouldn’t have happened. Or the farmers should have been paid first. Itâs just right. But what McCrory has done here is take it a step further and say, Hey, some of the money the Budd family paid by the business has gone and is now being used against me. And that’s where we are here.
Thierry: OK, is McCrory right about this?
Speech : We reached out to McCrory and his campaign and they highlighted the donations of Budd’s father and Budd’s brother to the Club for Growth Action. Club for Growth is a large conservative group and political action committee. They tend to support the candidates, almost always on the Republican side. And as McCrory’s campaign pointed out, Hey, Richard and Joe Budd donated to the Club for Growth.
Well, here’s the problem: The reported donations by McCrory’s campaign took place in 2016 and 2018. Budd was not running for the Senate in those years. He was a candidate for Congress. We found it very, very unlikely that those 2016 and 2018 Club for Growth donations would be used against McCrory in attack ads in 2021. It just doesn’t seem likely.
And you might ask, why is this so unlikely? Because Club for Growth is running ads attacking McCrory. They support Ted Budd. Well, Club for Growth announced earlier this summer that they’ve raised $ 5 million just to support Budd’s campaign in the Senate. So they don’t exactly have to rummage through their couch cushions to find those ancient gifts from the Budd family.
Thierry: What did Budd say about all of this?
Speech : Budd didn’t say too much. He and his father were both interviewed by the Washington Post. They did not tell us about it and they made it clear that it was not something where they made money. Richard Budd took out a loan from a bank to lend to this business at the time. And then when it was paid off, the family claims they had to pay the bank back because it was a bridging loan. And so they say, look, they didn’t make any money with it. Ted Budd spokesperson said: You know, he lost his shares when the company went bankrupt. They kind of believe this whole thing is out of proportion. And speaking with the Budd campaign, there was sort of a surprise to hear McCrory say that the money from that AgriBio Tech settlement years ago would somehow be involved in the Senate race today.
Thierry: And is it true what the Budd campaign spokesperson said that the Budd family didn’t make any money from it?
Speech : It seems highly unlikely. And here’s why: When Richard Budd got that $ 10 million loan and gave it to the company, he had to contract with the bank. When the company paid off Richard Budd, the family say he then had to pay the bank back. And then years later, as it went to court, when the farmers said they should have been paid, the Budd family agreed to settle out of court and pay back $ 6 million. So if we keep track and do that math here, they loaned out $ 10 million. They got $ 10 million back. Years later, they agreed to repay $ 6 million. In the void here, they would lose $ 6 million.
Now, it’s certainly possible that somewhere in all these years they may have invested that money, or maybe they haven’t paid the bank back. I do not know. I trust what they say. I can only relate what is said to me. When checking the facts, we ask the person making the request to âprove what you sayâ. The burden of proof lies with the person who spoke. And so we asked McCrory, can you prove to us that the Budd family made money on this deal, this loan repayment, and then used that specific money on attack ads against McCrory? And they couldn’t do that.
Thierry: So how did you assess these claims by Pat McCrory?
Speech : We rated them âmostly falseâ. Let us now go back to what he said. He said the family made money from their $ 10 million loan repayment. McCrory doesn’t have proof that they made any money. It’s hypothetically possible that when the family got the repayment of the company’s $ 10 million loan, they could have invested it and made that money grow and things like that. But the family say they had to pay the bank back, and then years later, through a settlement, had to pay back $ 6 million. So, McCrory’s claim that the family made money certainly seems exaggerated.
Now the second part of this claim is that the money they earned is given to a “special interest group,” in its own words, which attacks it. It’s true that Richard and Joe Budd, Ted Budd’s father and brother, donated money to the Club for Growth, and of course, it’s a special interest group, you might say. But they donated a total of $ 70,000 in 2016 and 2018, and McCrory suggests that this money donated over three years ago is somehow being used to pay for ads against him in 2021. We don’t see that link. , especially since Club for Growth announced earlier this summer that they had raised $ 5 million just to spend on Ted Budd’s Senate campaign.
So it’s highly unlikely that that money that started with an AgriBio Tech loan repayment years ago ended up in the Club for Growth Senate campaign fund in 2021 to be used against McCrory. We just don’t see the evidence.
Thierry: Okay, Paul, thank you.
Speech : Thank you.