Veteran State Government Radio journalist and commentator Barlow Herget is getting tired of writing about Gov. Pat McCrory’s gaffes, but as he notes in this morning’s column — see below — the foul ups just keep on coming.
It’s not funny anymore.
Governor Pat McCrory has entertained the North Carolina public this summer with a series of mistakes that invited humor and jokes as well as ridicule. The blunders were funny because they were glaring acts of hypocrisy or obliviousness.
He stepped in a bucket passing out cookies to female pro-choice protesters.
This, right after he signed a much more restrictive anti-abortion law, breaking a campaign promise not to do so.
He said there was no money in the budget for a pay raise for teachers and state employees and then the news broke on his big pay increases for some young, inexperienced political appointees in the Department of Health and Human Services.
The latest scandal involves two more big salaries. The department paid a consultant, Joe Hauck, $228,000 for eight months of work. Former Republican State Auditor Les Merritt was paid $58,000 for two months work. (The irony that the pay was a bit high and that he is a member of the state Ethics Commission did not stop him from taking the money.)
I do not begrudge Governor McCrory from helping his friends and supporters. That’s the nature of politics.
The outrage is that Mr. Hauck works for the husband of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos. This glaring conflict of interest smacks of cronyism at its worst. If this didn’t raise eyebrows in the Administration, one wonders what kind of conflict of interest would get Dr. Wos’ attention.
Maybe a $500,000 contract for her husband’s advice offered over the supper table?
To be fair, Governor McCrory may not have known about Mr. Hauck’s excessive consulting fee until it made headlines. But the Governor did know that Secretary Wos’ judgment deserved oversight. Remember she tried to hire someone to oversee the former More-at-Four pre-kindergarten program who didn’t believe in such educational measures.
Secretary Wos is trying to defend Mr. Hauck’s pay to penny-pinching Republican legislative leaders. But even Representative Nelson Dollar of Cary, a loyal and veteran Republican Appropriations chair, says he needs to “look at the particular situation” of Mr. Hauck’s contract.
Governor McCrory campaigned as an outsider who would fix what he called the broken government in Raleigh. It was an effective slogan. But he must have left his tool box back in Charlotte.