Governor-elect Roy Cooper must not be familiar with the favorite mantra of North Carolina’s political Left – “Forward Together, Not One Step Back!” His first appointments appear to be throwbacks to at least 30 years ago.
Aside from Kristi Jones, Cooper’s chief of Staff in the Attorney General’s Office who will take the same position in the Governor’s Office, Cooper named two former lobbyists to key positions today.
He picked Brad Adcock as his legislative director. Cooper appears to believe Adcock’s 30 years working as a career lobbyist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will help him with the Republican super-majority in the legislature.
Cooper’s third appointment of the day, and the most troubling one, is Ken Eudy, named as senior advisor to the governor-elect.
In a state that is home to nearly 130,000 active-duty military personnel and nearly 100,000 military retirees, Cooper’s pick of Eudy is troubling. In a September 8, 2016 article published on the EDNC website, Eudy tried to make a case for teachers being the “linchpin of our national defense.” He proudly emphasizes that he has something in common with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick: while he (Eudy) stands for “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events, he stays in his seat when thousands of fans stand and cheer men and women in the armed services. Even Kaepernick says he respects the troops, while protesting against the country. Eudy disdains our men and women in uniform.
“I sit simply because I think it odd that, of all the categories of Americans that we honor, we honor warriors,” he wrote.
We must ask of Roy Cooper: does he share Eudy’s vision in attacking the members of our armed forces and veterans?
Eudy’s bio includes work as a reporter for WBTV and the Charlotte Observer. He served as executive director of the NC Democratic Party in the 1980s and was named one of North Carolina’s top 20 lobbyists.
Eudy also has deep connections to BCBS-NC. He is founder of Capstrat, LLC, a communications company that did extensive work for BCBS-NC. In 2007, Eudy was accused of trying to strong-arm BCBS policyholders who had complained about the insurance non-profit’s announcement of record profits of $190 million. NC Policy Watch, the media project of the NC Justice Center, in a 2007 article wrote:
“Ken Eudy and NC Blue Cross have a long-term relationship. Millions of dollars that should have gone to lower health premiums or pay for medical services has gone straight from the pockets of Blue Cross policyholders into Capstrat’s profits.”
The Policy Watch article continued:
“Back in 2003 when Blue first announced record profits of $190 million, over a thousand people wrote outraged letters, emails, or made phone calls to Insurance Commissioner Jim Long worried about the effect of the focus on profits on their premiums and whether they would be able to afford health coverage.”
“Nonprofit Blue became extremely worried at the prospect of stringent review of their outsize profits. Eudy, acting for Blue Cross, made a transparent attempt to intimidate ordinary citizens around North Carolina from expressing their concerns to the Insurance Commissioner. To do this, Eudy demanded, and received, copies of all those letters and comments complete with names and addresses. Remember, these are ordinary Blue Cross policyholders who legitimately might worry that Blue would be unhappy with what they said and this unhappiness would be reflected in their health premiums or coverage.”
According to this Triangle Business Journal Article, the pressure Eudy put on the Department of Insurance led then-Commissioner Jim Long to pen a letter to “those whose correspondences he was forwarding to Capstrat. In the letter, he told consumers that the DOI had no choice but to comply with the FOI Act, which mandates that public records must be produced when requested.”
Long wrote, “Some people are fearful that Blue Cross will raise their premiums or deny their claims in retaliation for contacting me and complaining. Let me assure you that such action by Blue Cross would be illegal, and I would not tolerate it.”
But are a bureaucrat’s words enough to truly reassure nervous and vulnerable policyholders?
Another troubling issue is Eudy’s status as both a major recipient of state dollars via contracts and a major donor (over $100,000 to state politicians, mostly Democrats.)
This tangled relationship has drawn criticism even from the left. The State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) once picketed outside Eudy’s home. SEANC accused Eudy of “pay-to-play” politics because Capstrat had received millions of dollars in state contracts.
And will Eudy still receive money from Capstrat while working for the governor? And will Capstrat still profit from state contract while Eudy is serving as Cooper’s right-hand man?
Because of all the state contracts, and dollars, Eudy got at Capstrat over the years, that makes him probably the highest-level recipient of state funds to ever get a senior appointment in the Governor’s Office.
In short, Eudy took money from the state, gave part of it back to politicians, gained influence that way, and then got more dollars – and now is getting a powerful job at the center of government.
One more question: a recurring problem is the “revolving door” in which insiders get plum jobs in government, collect salaries, then return to private life to cash in on their connections. Will Eudy renounce state contracts and lobbying when he leaves the Cooper Administration?
To sum up, Ken Eudy is fat-cat insider who’s raked in taxpayer dollars through state contracts, is happy to bully ordinary people worried about health care, and disrespects the men and women who put their lives on the line in the military every day. Is that the kind of person Roy Cooper wants at his elbow giving him advice on vital topics?