Under the Dome

Former Sen. Thom Goolsby receives Order of the Long Leaf Pine award

Thom Goolsby
Thom Goolsby

Former state Sen. Thom Goolsby got a nice Christmas present from Gov. Pat McCrory: The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, one of the state’s top civilian honors.

Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican who resigned in August, posted a photo of himself with the certificate on Wednesday. While McCrory’s office approved the award for Goolsby, it was presented by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

“It made my year when Lt. Governor Dan Forest presented it to me,” Goolsby wrote on his Facebook page.

In the Senate, Goolsby co-chaired a Senate judiciary committee and pushed the repeal of the Racial Justice Act through the legislature while successfully promoting legislation imposing tougher penalties for human trafficking.

Goolsby also called the Moral Monday protest movement “Moron Mondays,” making him unpopular among liberals. Some liberal groups criticized McCrory on social media this week for honoring Goolsby with the Long Leaf Pine award.

“Gov. McCrory is bestowing one of NC’s highest honors on a former legislator who defrauded investors,” Progress NC Action tweeted.

That’s a reference to the Secretary of State’s May order that Goolsby and a business partner stop offering investment advice after an investigation of the firm’s practices. Goolsby has not faced any further penalty in the probe and his lawyer said he “never received even one paycheck” from the venture.

Goolsby isn’t the first controversial Long Leaf Pine pick for McCrory. Also in December, the governor gave the award to the Alamance County sheriff who’s currently fighting a federal lawsuit that accuses his department of racial profiling.

It’s not exactly an exclusive club: A database shows 500 recipients of the award this year alone.