Roy Cooper will literally take the oath of office to become North Carolina’s next governor in the dark. He has scheduled his swearing-in for just after midnight on January 1, 2017, as allowed by the NC Constitution. The midnight swearing-in ceremony is not the only thing cloaked in darkness as Governor-elect Roy Cooper takes office this weekend.
Cooper has yet to announce any of the cabinet or high level administrative officials needed to run a government. He has announced a handful of senior level advisors including the controversial appointment of Ken Eudy as his senior advisor. Eudy, among other outrageous positions, publicly stated he would not be honoring our service men and women.
Cooper’s lack of transparency as to who will be a part of his new administration is in contrast to every other transition in modern NC history, or any other state, where incoming administrations were open and eager to announce who would be working alongside the incoming governor. We can hardly view Cooper’s refusal to announce appointments with surprise seeing that, as North Carolina Attorney General for 16 years, he only sent a “handful” of emails. Not much transparency here.
The lack of cabinet or other appointees has not slowed Cooper from dismissing state employees. As reported by the Associated Press, letters signed by Cooper’s incoming Chief of Staff Kristi Jones, were delivered this week to a number of state employees. The letter included a sentence from Jones saying “We hope you will continue to serve North Carolina in other ways.” Since there have been no appointee announcements from Cooper it leaves us to wonder who the “we” would be.
But even while the Cooper transition team is staying dark, the Raleigh rumor mill is going strong. So here are a couple of names that have floated to the top.
For budget director Cooper is looking at Beverly Perdue alum and longtime bureaucrat Charlie Perusse. Perusse filled that position in the Perdue administration and we know how well that went, leaving the state with a $3 billion dollar budget deficit. He is currently the COO for the UNC system being hired there by liberal activist Tom Ross.
Perusse’s last stint as the state Budget Director included not only the $3 billion dollar deficit, but the largest tax increase in state history and the start of deficit spending in the state’s unemployment fund eventually running up a $2.6 billion debt to the federal government. For more spending details see a history of spending and taxes in North Carolina.
Perusse is not the only name mentioned. For the important position of Secretary of Transportation the name of long time democratic fundraiser and environmental activist Nina Szlosberg-Landis has been floated. She previously served three terms on the Board of Transportation as an environmental activist appointee. If this rumor turns out to be true it probably means Cooper will be rewarding his environmental supporters at the expense of improving and building roads and highways. It could also mean he will be prioritizing urban mass transit over improving roads across the state.
Szlosberg-Landis has connections not only to environmental activist groups, serving on the boards of the Environmental Defense Fund and the NC League of Conversation voters but also to pro-abortion activists, serving on the board of Lillian’s list here in NC.
Szlosberg-Landis would be in position to reward both Cooper’s environmental supporters and his supporters in the urban areas which helped him narrowly win the election.
The final appointment while not a rumor – would make perfect sense. It appears Laura Leslie of WRAL-TV may be auditioning for the role of Press Secretary. This would put someone in charge of messaging for Cooper who has been hard at work since 2011 to demonize Republicans in the state.
Also part of the rumor mill is that Governor-elect Cooper has acknowledged that two people, up for appointment consideration, have already been dropped from his list because they did not want to go through the new approval process. Those in the know seem to believe that there has actually been as many as a half dozen that have chosen not to be considered in light of a bill passed in the recent special legislative session that makes the governor’s cabinet appointees subject to approval by the State Senate.
If the people Governor-elect Cooper is considering for appointment to high office do not feel they can stand up to scrutiny, what does that say about the administration Cooper is trying to put together to run our state? Maybe, that explains why Cooper is being sworn-in to office in the dark of night.
With just over 24 hours to go before the dark of night swearing in, there is still time for Cooper to name potential cabinet heads, but being New Year’s weekend, not a lot of people will be paying attention. Is this a harbinger of the openness we can expect from a Cooper administration?