House and Senate members on the Joint Transportation Oversight Committee say they still have not been given a chance to review 10 new appointees to the state Board of Transportation, as required by state law. But Gov. Pat McCrory is moving ahead with plans to install them at the April 3 board meeting, The N&O's Bruce Siceloff reports.
On March 1, McCrory sent the 10 names, along with documents that disclose how much money each appointee contributed to the governor's election campaign -- to the House and Senate clerks, the House speaker and the Senate president pro tempore. He didn't send the packets to members of the oversight committee, as was done by previous governors.
“In the past they were mailed directly to us, each member, from the governor’s offices," said Sen. Clark Jenkins, a Tarboro Democrat who serves on the oversight committee and previously was its chairman. “I think the governor’s office should go a little bit further than leaving some sort of notice at the clerk’s office and the chambers’ leadership offices. I think it should go to the oversight committee."
McCrory has sole authority to make appointments to the 19-member board. But the law provides for review by the House-Senate committee of the new members -- along with campaign financial disclosure statements -- before they are sworn in:
The Governor shall submit the names of all proposed Board of Transportation appointees, along with the disclosure statements required under subsections (i), (j), and (k) of this section, to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee prior to Board members' taking office. The Committee shall have 30 days to review and submit comments to the Governor on the proposed appointees before they take office. The Governor shall consider the views expressed by the Committee concerning the appointees to the Board. If the Committee does not review or submit comments to the Governor on the proposed Board appointees within the 30 days, the Governor may proceed to appoint the proposed members to the Board.
Rep. Frank Iler, an Oak Island Republican who is vice-chairman of the oversight committee, said he is acquainted with a few of the appointees but he doesn’t know anything about their political contributions.
“I’m OK with the ones I’ve seen, but I haven’t seen their bios or whether or not they made campaign donations,” Iler said.
A McCrory spokeswoman indicated that the governor is not planning to send the campaign finance disclosures directly to oversight committee members, and he will not cancel the meeting in April, as he did for the meeting in March.
"We look forward to the new Board of Transportation members taking their seats at the meeting on April 3," said Crystal Feldman, the governor's press secretary.
Jenkins said he still wants the chance to review the new appointees.
“I don’t think the General Assembly should hold them up unnecessarily for some sort of political reason, but we should have the right," Jenkins said. "It's there in the law.”
Sen. Neal Hunt, a Wake County Republican, agreed.
"I think it would have been nice to be able to look at it," Hunt said. "But I'm not mad or anything."
He said he would go to the office of Sen. Phil Berger, the Senate leader, to review the transportation appointees' campaign disclosure statements.
"Now that I know where they are, I'm gonna go look at them there," Hunt said.