It started when Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat, publicly criticized a bill involving Charlotte's airport earlier this month. He called the bill, which came as a surprise to city officials as well as most lawmakers, a "sneak attack." That didn't sit well with Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican and a chief sponsor of the bill.
Neither did Jackson's subsequent fundraising appeal.
"Moments ago, Senator Rucho and the Republican majority slammed a bill through session that could strip Charlotte of its airport," he wrote in an email to supporters. "Right now the court is settling the matter. Apparently Senator Rucho has run out of patience. We all know this isn't about policy -- it's about control."
That prompted the following exchange between the two senators.
-- "Senator Jackson, we need leaders to tell the truth," he emailed back. "The court and the FAA are at an impasse and need clarification of the law. Shame on you for politicizing this most important economic issue for our community. The people of
-- "Sen. Rucho, Our concerns about this bill were completely appropriate. 1) There was zero consultation with any of the stakeholders. 2) The bill was plainly substantive and not technical.
3) The whole thing just smelled awful. I’m genuinely ready to work with you on this and any piece of legislation that impacts our county. I think you’d find that I’m a flexible and reasonable person. If there’s ever anything you’d like to collaborate on, my door is always open."
-- "Your political exploitation of an important economic issue and your fund raising letter is what smells," Rucho responded this week. "You apparently speak before you know the facts especially since you were not engaged in the original debate. You can't ignore the pay to play actions of the former mayor and the on going investigation by the FBI. There is already a pay to play connection with the airport taxi service and there is no telling who else will be implicated.
"It is all about insulating the airport from pay to play politics and cronyism but maybe that does not concern you."