North Carolina Republicans in the General Assembly approved a law setting up a confirmation process for the governor’s Cabinet appointees two weeks before Gov. Roy Cooper was sworn in. The move was purely partisan, a swipe at Cooper from the GOP leadership to make his Cabinet members negotiate a hoop or two, all because Cooper ousted Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
This would be a wasteful exercise, and Cooper believes it’s unconstitutional, which is why he’s suing to stop it. And a three-judge panel has put a stop to it for now. Another hearing is slated.
But Senate Republicans can be counted upon to keep up the fight to have hearings to vet Cooper’s nominees — all of them, by the way, clearly qualified for the offices to which they’ve been appointed.
Sen. Bill Rabon, a Southport Republican who is co-chair of the nominations committee, said last week he didn’t foresee trouble with Cooper’s picks to lead agencies such as Public Safety, Military and Veterans Affairs, the Department of Transportation, Cultural Resources and other posts. Previous legislatures have not thrown up roadblocks to such appointments, and in the vast majority of cases, Democratic and Republican governors have named people who were qualified for the jobs. The right to fill those jobs comes with winning the governor’s office.
Making Cooper’s choices go through this process, and passing the measure setting it up just before he was sworn in, may in part have been an attempt to get the new governor to appoint people who would please Senate Republicans flexing their power.
Cooper responded exactly the right way: he’s put up people who are experienced, capable, have served the public before in many cases and clearly have been chosen based on their competence.
GOP senators have issued a questionnaire for appointees — and one was sent to Larry Hall, a former legislator nominated to head the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, asking details of political contributions, whether he’s been sued or charged with a crime, whether he’s been investigated. Really? Hall’s a veteran lawmaker known to all those who would put him through the confirmation process. And this will come after he’s been thoroughly reviewed by Cooper’s staff.
Republicans know full well that governors of both parties historically have been able to choose their teams to govern, the members of which will follow a governor’s agenda, even when that agenda may conflict with some of the priorities of lawmakers of the opposite party. And yes, the jobs come with the right to appoint other people in agencies to positions — again, simply an accepted part of a changeover in government.