Perry named head of Department of Public Safety, replacing Shanahan

jfrank@newsobserver.comAugust 21, 2013 

A month after the state’s law enforcement chief’s abrupt resignation, Gov. Pat McCrory named the interim leader at the Department of Public Safety as his newest agency secretary Wednesday.

Frank Perry led the Division of Law Enforcement, overseeing the operations of Emergency Management, Highway Patrol, Alcohol Law Enforcement and State Capitol Police, before taking the interim job after Secretary Kieran Shanahan resigned in July.

Shanahan, a close McCrory ally and prominent Republican, left the post after six months on the job, saying he was unable to manage the position with his outside business interests. His move came months after facing intense scrutiny for continuing legal work for clients at his law firm while serving in the governor’s Cabinet.

In making the announcement, McCrory touted Perry’s 22 years as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “He brings a wealth of real-world experience to the helm of DPS in addition to his dedication to public service,” McCrory said in a statement.

Perry said in prepared remarks that he was “humbled and honored” to take the position. He worked closely with Shanahan as interim chief operating officer in January as Shanahan put together his first management team.

The governor’s office did not respond to interview requests.

Like his predecessor, Perry comes into the position with political ties.

He donated $500 to McCrory’s 2012 campaign and served as a top official at a private foundation funded by an organization directed at the time by Art Pope, a major conservative donor who McCrory appointed as state budget director.

The Foundation for Ethics in Public Service, founded in 2009, was led by Les Merritt, the former state auditor. Perry worked under Merritt as investigations chief in the auditor’s office in 2007 after serving at the State Ethics Commission.

His 22 years at the FBI focused on public corruption and included the investigations into former state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps and former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance. He retired in 2004 as the special agent in charge of the Raleigh office and one of the bureau’s top ethics experts.

Before joining the FBI, Perry, a Wake Forest University graduate and Franklin County native, taught at the University of Miami and Grambling State University in Louisiana.

Perry’s new annual salary will be the same as Shanahan’s salary: $135,000 a year.

Frank: 919-829-4698

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