(UPDATED – see the bottom of the post) — Here’s a fascinating and disturbing, if not terribly surprising, sidebar to the story that has erupted in recent days around Governor McCrory’s failure to disclose his Duke Energy holdings: one of McCrory’s own appointees (Note: see the update below) to the State Ethics Commission (the group that would likely review the Governor’s behavior in the matter) appears to have made an ethically questionable public statement about the matter.
The Commission member in question is Francis DeLuca, the head of the Pope-Civitas Institute and Civitas Action — its 501 (c)(4) affiliate. Here is a tweet that appeared earlier today on DeLuca’s Twitter account:
You got that? One of the seven members of the government panel charged with enforcing state ethics laws appears to have already formed an opinion on the matter and be willing to share it with the public.
And while many observers might find much potential merit in DeLuca’s opinion — at least based on the information currently available in the media — the notion that a supposedly impartial arbiter would weigh in with a public opinion on a matter on which he could well find himself hearing evidence and issuing a ruling is simply stunning. It’s as if a judge who might find himself presiding over a criminal trial at a later date had publicly commented on the guilt of a suspect in the case.
As we noted last fall here and here when DeLuca was appointed, the notion of placing a fire-breathing partisan on such a panel was a remarkable idea from the outset. Now, it’s pretty clear that DeLuca’s appointment was badly flawed for another reason: the man does not appear to understand what it means to serve in such a position and is evidently not capable of keeping his three jobs separate.
UPDATE: After this post went up, the Governor’s press office emailed me the following: “Saw your blog post on Francis DeLuca. We wanted to point out and make sure you knew that Mr. DeLuca is a senate appointment. The Governor formally appoints but it’s the Senate president’s recommendation.”)