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Cooper appoints Elections, Ethics Board after more than a year of vacancy

Gov. Roy Cooper appointed eight members today to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement after leaving it vacant for more than a year.

He was required to choose from a list of 12 nominees — six provided by the state chair of the Democratic Party and six provided by the state chair of the Republican Party.

Here are the eight members with edited descriptions provided by the Governor’s office:

  • Andy Penry of Raleigh as a Democratic member. Penry is an attorney at Penry Riemann.
  • Joshua Dale Malcolm of Pembroke as a Democratic member. Malcolm is the chief legal officer, general counsel and assistant secretary to the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees. Malcolm currently serves as a justice on the Supreme Court of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
  • Valerie Johnson of Durham County as a Democratic member. Johnson is an attorney at Copeley Johnson and Groninger.
  • Stella Anderson of Watauga County as a Democratic member. Anderson is a professor in the Department of Management for the College of Business at Appalachian State University.
  • Stacy “Four” Eggers, IV of Boone as a Republican member. Eggers is an attorney with Eggers Law.
  • John Randolph Hemphill of Raleigh as a Republican member. Hemphill is an attorney with Hemphill, Gelder and Monroe.
  • John Malachi Lewis of Mt. Pleasant as a Republican member. Lewis is the deputy counsel for the North Carolina Republican Party.
  • Ken Raymond of Winston Salem as a Republican member. Raymond owns and manages Triad Notary Service.

Lawmakers passed a measure in December 2016 merging the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission.

They have since changed the structure of the merged Board three times. House Bill 90, the most recent change which became law today, requires a 9-member board — four Democrats, four Republicans and one unaffiliated member.

Those eight members Cooper appointed will select two unaffiliated nominees for Cooper to appoint to the ninth spot on the state Board.

Board spokesman Pat Gannon said that naming those two nominees would be the newly appointed Board’s first order of business at its first scheduled meeting.

A meeting date has not yet been set, but state law directs that it be held within 14 days. Meetings are open to the public.

“We congratulate the new members of the state Board and are very grateful they chose to serve at this important time,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the Board. “We look forward to getting to work immediately to tackle issues that have come up in the absence of a State Board and continue preparations for the 2018 elections.”

Cooper is still pursuing litigation over HB90 and the law that created the merged agency, Senate Bill 68. You can read more about that and the Board’s responsibilities here.

Mail-in absentee voting for the May 8 primary election begins Monday. One-stop early voting starts in a little over a month.

NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse congratulated Cooper on “appointing eight respected and qualified nominees.”

“We look forward to working with all eight members of the board appointed today, and the yet to be named member reserved for a person not aligned with any political party,” he said in an email.

He said the Board’s duty would be to make the “new era of bipartisan ethics and elections enforcement successful.”

“I know our nominees are committed to finding consensus and expanding voting opportunities that are fair for all,” he added. “However we got here, it is time to set aside the political battles over the Board and for both Republicans and Democrats to make the new structure work. North Carolina Republicans will do all we can to make that happen.”

The North Carolina Democratic Party declined to comment about the appointments.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshal congratulated the new Board members in an emailed statement.

“I look forward to working with them on a smooth transition of the Lobbying Compliance Division and its functions,” she said. “We have begun discussions with the Department of Administration and the other stakeholder agencies on how to transfer the Lobbying Compliance Division. We are confident this process will proceed promptly and efficiently.”

This is a breaking news story and will be edited as updates become available.

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