Pat McCrory is gone, but less than forty-eight hours before leaving office, the outgoing governor placed some of his closest advisers—and some donors—on key state boards and commissions.
McCrory made thirteen appointments on Friday. Chief of staff Thomas Stith and former budget director Lee Roberts were appointed to the board of the Golden LEAF Foundation, a state-chartered organization that recently received $25 million as part of the Hurricane Matthew relief package. McCrory general counsel Bob Stephens and former state representative Brian Brown, meanwhile, were appointed to the State Board of Community Colleges.
Samuel Bratton, president of the Wake Stone Corporation, was among four appointments to the Mining Commission; he gave McCrory $11,500 in 2012 and 2016. (Bratton also cut four checks to new governor Roy Cooper, totaling $1,950, from 2006–14.) Meanwhile, Department of Health and Human Services deputy secretary Randall Williams—who helped lead a department that state epidemiologist Megan Davies said "deliberately misleads the public" when she resigned in August—got one of five appointments to the Oil and Gas Commission.
All of these positions are unsalaried.
These appointments follow two others that were confirmed during the General Assembly's fourth special session: Yolanda Stith, who is married to Thomas Stith, was named to the Industrial Commission, an agency that administers the Workers' Compensation Act; she'll be paid more than $127,000 per year. Also, budget director Drew Heath was confirmed as a special superior court judge.
While McCrory was handing out new jobs, one administration official decided to take matters into his own hands; during the last week of McCrory's term, Donald van der Vaart, the polluter-protecting secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality who was on Donald Trump's short list to head the EPA, demoted himself to a position in the air quality division that has civil service protections. .
Though it's happened at least once before—former Alcohol and Law Enforcement secretary John Ledford demoted himself to an agent before McCrory took office—the move baffled some longtime political observers.
"We're kind of in uncharted waters with this whole dynamic," says Catawba College professor Michael Bitzer.