In a surprise move Tuesday morning, the state Senate Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks for his confirmation hearing next week.
The 14-5, party-line vote to subpoena Hooks was not listed on the committee’s agenda, and it took place as a three-judge panel held a hearing a few blocks away on Gov. Roy Cooper’s lawsuit challenging the Cabinet confirmation requirement.
Sen. Tamara Barringer, a Cary Republican who chairs the committee, said Hooks had said he would not attend the March 15 hearing unless a subpoena required his attendance. Larry Hall, Cooper’s secretary of military and veterans affairs, attended confirmation hearings last week under a subpoena after judges declined to act on Cooper’s request to delay or drop the subpoena. The Senate voted unanimously Monday night to confirm Hall.
“I say we get on with it,” Sen. Dan Bishop, a Charlotte Republican, said of the Hooks confirmation process. “The last time we issued a subpoena the outcome was very good.”
But Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat, objected to the subpoena. “The process is premature, and there’s a court hearing today dealing with this very litigation,” he said. “This matter was not on the printed agenda that was before us. It’s irregular, it’s improper and I wish we were not continuing to go down this path.”
Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman of Archdale called McKissick’s argument “a bunch of BS.”
“What is irregular is not having the common sense to ask them some questions that is clearly in the (state) constitution,” he said.