Justice Department Investigating Cintra

Widen I-77 recently obtained a copy of an Investigative Demand of the NC Department of Justice to I-77 Mobility Partners, the wholly owned subsidiary of Cintra. An investigative demand is an order from a law enforcement agency requiring the requestee to produce materials as part of a legal investigation.

The demand was sent on Dec 16, 2015 with an order to comply by January 16. It is not known if Cintra has complied with the request. Information regarding an ongoing investigation is typically confidential, as is the status of the investigation.  Given this, WI77 does not know the status or nature of the investigation.

We do know what information was requested however, and it is sweeping, comprising sixteen separate requests.

Advertising and Marketing

Several requests dealt with the much-derided marketing campaign launched last summer. The Justice Department demanded each document comprising I77MP’s marketing campaign, including every “direct mailing, print advertisement, television advertisement, radio advertisement, Facebook post, Twitter post and press release.”

The Justice Department also demanded “all supporting documentation” for several of I77MP’s claims in those advertisements, including “between 50-100 local firms involved with this project” and “the I77 Express Lanes project will generate 8,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.”  Additionally, I77MP was required to divulge all internal memoranda and documents “regarding the accuracy of the statements made.”

It appears we are not the only ones who found Cintra’s claims of “Texas based” and “construction will start this summer” to be dubious.

Contacts and Lobbying

The Justice Department wanted a copy of all communications between Cintra and Mercury (Cintra’s lobbyist in Raleigh) as well as Ross Communications, presumably a public relations/marketing firm. In addition the demand covers “any other firm engaged to advertise, lobby, or communicate to the public or third parties regarding the I-77 Express Lanes project.”

Then there’s this: the Justice Department wanted every document that encouraged any “person or entity to support, promote, or endorse the I-77 Express Lanes project,” as well as a list every person or entity that I77MP contacted as part of that promotional effort.

That could turn out to be an interesting list.

Tolls & Traffic

I77MP was required to provide all internal memoranda and strategic documents regarding traffic impact projections, taxpayer toll subsidies, anticipated “bonus allocation” funds for the benefit of the project, and the number of vehicles using the toll lanes and general purpose lanes.

And, at long last, the Justice Department wants to know Cintra’s anticipated toll rates.

We can’t help but find this gratifying. We have editorialized previously that debt payments were timed so that “by design” they take maximum advantage of the taxpayer subsidy. We questioned the propriety of public “bonus allocation funds” being used to build private toll lanes ramps. And we look forward to learning just how bad Cintra thinks congestion will really become.

Apparently the Justice Department is interested as well.

Finances & Disclosures

The Justice Department wanted “all documents evidencing disclosure” of Cintra’s other troubled projects, namely the bankrupt Indiana Toll Road and the troubled SR130 as well as any project delays on other projects. Interestingly, they specifically wanted to know if these projects and delays were disclosed to NCDOT and CRTPO.

They also made a sweeping request for “each and every complaint, whether formal or informal” for all of Cintra’s projects in North America including “complaints from the users of the roads, government officials, investors or internal whistle-blower complaints.”


Lastly, the Demand requires I77MP to produce all communications with any credit rating agency in connection with seeking a credit rating. Specifically, the Demand lists communications with Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch and DBRS.  The first two were approached but did not give a rating, and the latter two supplied the require investment grade bond ratings.

Political Implications

This information has come to light as part of Attorney General Roy Cooper’s rebuttal to Governor McCrory recent assertion that the AG did not do enough to stop the Cintra contract. Cooper, of course, is the presumptive Democratic challenger in November’s gubernatorial election.

We were struck by how many of the requests evidenced a deep understanding of the issues with this project. This was not something that was casually put together but obviously required a good bit of time and effort to develop.

Whether or not anything will become of this remains to be seen. We can’t help but wonder if anything does result from this if it will be timed to maximize political leverage.

This could be an interesting couple of months.  Buckle up.

Here is the document:

12 16 2015 I-77 Mobility Partners CID




15 Responses to Justice Department Investigating Cintra

  1. Raul Sanchez says:

    Hopefully Mobility Partners will be shut down!!!

  2. Anne Zirkle says:

    Hmmmm, how about the contract gets cancelled with no penalty fees in exchange for dropping all the fines associated with all their misinformation, etc.?

    • Jay Privette says:

      How about some people go to jail so they can’t perpetrate this scam on others, Cintra reimburse the state for all they cost us and then the contract will be null and void without any penalties.

  3. Anette says:

    Interesting. Consumer Protection Law, hmmmm. Was that part of the Widn I77Lawsuit?

    • A Mooresvile Resident says:

      If one reads ALL the documents and especially the court filings about the toll contract, the answer to the Consumer Protection question becomes readily evident.

      Stop, think and ponder the expansive and somewhat global reach of the AG’s demand to I-77 Mobility partners. This reaches deep inside the lobbying efforts, political contacts, actual and implied promises and more.

      Bet you every politician is scrambling to review their social media and e-mail records for the past few years that may in any way relate to this project. Their name WILL come out.

      • Jay Privette says:

        Think about all the false claims they made to get the public to accept this deal. At one time they said the traffic volume on the HOT lanes would be greater than that on the general purpose lanes if you crunched their numbers. From their projected revenues to cost of the tolls, they falsely advertised. How could a smart businessman like Ned Curran, a CEO, approve a contract like this without clear termination conditions spelled in it without being in on the deception? If he was in on the deception, why? Hopefully the courts will find out.

        • A Mooresvile Resident says:

          As President and CEO of the Bissell Companies–a very, very large real estate developer located in Ballantyne, South Charlotte–Ned Curran appears to have much to gain from his voting for—as a CRTPO delegate—the I-77 tolls and as Chairman of the North Carolina Board of Transportation. Please note, he voted, and is NOT an elected official. His is appointed.

  4. Jay Privette says:

    All in a good days work. I don’t think I saw an issue the Justice Department wants to look into that people associated with Widen I-77 haven’t questioned or uncovered, and there definitely aren’t any issues the NCDOT and our elected officials weren’t obligated to make public. This is civic engagement at its best! Thanks all.

  5. Cheryl Pass says:

    Deliberately perpetrating public fraud for private gain is seriously business. As Jay says, above, should result in jail time and financial penalties, along with the cancellation of any contract obligations from North Carolina taxpayers. Every player who has pushed this, from any level of government and from the private sector needs to be outed and pay the price. I hope this investigation finally shines the light on every sleazy corrupt detail with every name attached.

  6. Ric Spear says:

    I may have some information that you need to know. If someone would like to email me so that I can contact them I have something for you to consider. We went through the same thing in Texas when I live there and I think you might want to no what happened.

  7. Gregory Bolster says:

    Once again, it appears that those in charge have neglected the Due Diligence process and plain common sense reasoning in some many questionable aspects of a project such as this. The fear is those in charge will continue to make the Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville residents pay for their ineptness.

    My only question is what is the timeframe that the investigatory results will become available to all concerned. sigh……….

  8. lucinda says:

    Since the North Carolina TAXPAYERS DO NOT KNOW ALL THE INTRICATE DETAILS AND THE convulted language of the contract between the Charlotte Transportation and the foreign based companies. We have no clear picture of what this may mean for the N.C. taxpayer his grandchildren and possibly his great grandchildren will possibly be paying this foreign corporation for the building and continued use of the I – 77 toll road.

    Stop the Widening of Highway I – 77
    1. Did the N.C.Dept or Charlotte Regional Transportation Authority ever request the N.C. Attorney General to complete a thorough background check for any previous illegal activities of the companies that they intended to consider a contractual agreement?

    2. Did the N.C. Department of Transportation or Charlotte Transportation Authority check with other U.S. state governments or that these companies have contractual agreements with.

    3. Are these contractual documents available online to the North Carolina Taxpayer.
    After all, the majority of the North Carolina taxpayer can understand a contract. Many of us are smart enough to catch something that may not be right.

    4. Where are the records of background checks for the general public to read online.

  9. Samara says:

    Don’t want to moan too much but with half bike half car all you are doing is causing more cnfousion and getting drivers used to driving in bike lanes. Things have improved and often a painted lane can help to guide drivers to give you more space. Think it might have been better with just two lanes for cars one for bikes. I think this junction might be perfect for green all directions light ie after every phase of cars the pedestrian lights go and walkers and bikes can clear the junction in any direction from any of the four roads to any exit. This means for every one phase for cars there are two for bikes and people, a real advantage. The phase does not have to be long ie somebody can do a 100 meters in ten seconds after all and

  10. […] won’t do much, if anything, to help with congestion), is defunct. As though the track record of Cintra wasn’t enough to see that they were not the vendor to select for a project that no one wanted. If […]

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