Insider Ross Hailey may mean well in his bid to be president of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, but his history as a right hand for former SEANC president Dana Cope should eliminate him from consideration for the job.
Hailey, first vice president, was a one-man committee appointed to investigate Cope after whistle-blowers came forward and The News & Observer reported alleged misconduct involving misuse of SEANC funds to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hailey found no problems.
And SEANC’s executive committee asked The N&O not to publish results of its investigation, which it did anyway. Cope now is under indictment, facing multiple years in jail if convicted.
Hailey, who now says he botched his investigation and criticizes his former ally Cope, has lost credibility with the organization and ought to recognize it. That he doesn’t is perplexing. He presents himself as the only viable alternative in the upcoming election by SEANC members, which is simply astonishing.
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And he continues to criticize his opponent for the job, Art Anthony, who is one of the two people who brought evidence of misconduct to The N&O. Amazingly, Hailey says Anthony should not have taken his complaints outside SEANC because, “It brought further embarrassment to the organization.” Anthony didn’t bring the embarrassment. Cope and those who were his chosen lieutenants did. And when confronted with clear and undeniable problems, those lieutenants including Hailey didn’t want to acknowledge them.
So even after all that has happened, Hailey thinks Anthony should have kept quiet?
In the end, of course, the choice is up to SEANC members. But that choice comes at a time when the organization needs to rebuild its credibility, and when the problems it has had could affect relations with the General Assembly, which has charge of issues such as raises.
Anthony seems qualified. At 63, he is a social science researcher at N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center. What he did took courage, and electing him to the SEANC presidency would send a message to members, from members, that a new day has come.
The scandal involving Cope, who has acknowledged mistakes, has damaged an organization whose main duty is advocating for state employees.
Anthony shows signs of being someone who would change it for the better.