American Commitment president Phil Kerpen recently caught The Charlotte Observer dumping an article laying out North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan’s connection to potentially serious mishandling of stimulus funds.

From the cached version of the article:

State officials say a stimulus grant given to a company run by Kay Hagan’s husband needs “further legal review.”

WBTV obtained a memo written by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources which includes a letter to the state’s auditor from last month. The memo states that NCDENR is looking into potential conflict of interest claims involving Senator Kay Hagan.

NCDENR says they have reviewed grant records and found conflict of issue claims warranted further legal review. Kay Hagan’s husband manages one of the companies in question, who received an energy efficiency grant money in 2010.

According to the NC Department of Energy and Natural Resources, the grant agreement included provisions prohibiting family members from receiving incentive payments, “these rules require, among other things, that no one with direct lineal relations may receive incentive payment. For example, the mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter or a contractor working in this Program cannot receive Awards, contracts and subcontracts.”

The federal Department of Energy Assistance grant agreement had similar regulations that included members of the immediate family, partners, or people who has a financial interest in the firm selected for the grant.

The current version of the same page offers a 404 error, and the Observer has not offered an explanation for the article’s removal.

Real Clear Politics currently has Senate incumbent Hagan up by a razor thin margin over challenger Thom Tillis, which may or may not explain why the Observer chose to jettison the damaging article—and why the paper had previously failed to give the story any real attention.

Via Newsbusters:

A search for “Hagan” at the Observer website shows they haven’t really dug into this story. There’s a brief citation of Politico’s reporting on September 26. There’s a (perhaps unavoidable) reference to it in a debate story on October 7, with the scandal-blurring headline “Conflict-of-interest charges fly in North Carolina Senate contest.” It quickly matched up the Hagan charges with charges against Republican Thom Tillis from “the state Democratic group Forward North Carolina.”

On September 20, the Observer displayed how badly it was beat on this story by merely reporting “Hagan: A life in politics, helped by family success.” Now, it’s the other way around.

The moral of the story? This: