Under the Dome

Cooper appointee accused of dragging lobbyist by her ponytail steps down

In this 2003 file photo, Rep. Daniel McComas, center, talks with fellow legislators about new legislative districts during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly.
In this 2003 file photo, Rep. Daniel McComas, center, talks with fellow legislators about new legislative districts during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly. ehyman@newsobserver.com

About a week after harassment allegations against former state lawmaker Daniel McComas surfaced, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said McComas stepped down Friday from the state Board of Transportation.

An article and radio story by WUNC public radio include allegations that in 2003 McComas, then a Republican House member from Wilmington, pulled a 26-year-old lobbyist around his office by her ponytail.

“He notices (my tattoo), he remarks on it, and then he proceeds to take me by the ponytail and pull me around his office, from legislative staffer’s desk, to legislative staffer’s desk saying ‘Can you believe what she has on her neck?’” Marisol Jimenez, the lobbyist, told WUNC. Her boss was in the room when it happened and corroborated the story to WUNC.

After retiring from the legislature in 2012, McComas has served in several appointed positions. Gov. Bev Perdue appointed him chairman of the North Carolina Ports Authority, and earlier this year Cooper appointed him to the state Board of Transportation.

According to WUNC, McComas denies the allegations, saying it’s out of his character. “I certainly don’t recall dragging her around by the ponytail,” McComas told WUNC.

The Democratic governor’s office didn’t respond Wednesday and Thursday to emails asking if he thought the allegations would warrant McComas’ resignation or any other disciplinary action. But on Friday, Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said McComas has stepped down.

“Governor Cooper received Mr. McComas’ resignation and believes stepping down was the appropriate thing to do,” Porter said.

Lauren Horsch: 919-836-2801, @LaurenHorsch

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