Former N.C. Rep. Larry Hall will face a subpoena to appear before the N.C. Senate Commerce committee for a confirmation hearing.
The committee voted to issue the subpoena Thursday after Hall, who has been acting as Secretary of Military and Veteran’s affairs, did not appear at a scheduled hearing. It was the third time the committee has convened a hearing without him. The subpoena calls for Hall to appear March 2.
Gov. Roy Cooper is locked in an ongoing legal battle with the North Carolina General Assembly over its authority to confirm his cabinet appointments. The assembly’s Republican majority passed a law granting themselves that power when Cooper, a Democrat, defeated Republican Pat McCrory in last year’s gubernatorial election.
A state three judge panel initially prevented the hearings from moving forward but then ruled they could proceed ahead of the case’s next court date on March 7. However, Cooper technically must submit the names of his nominees to the Senate before they can be confirmed – and Cooper has yet to submit any names.
Republican Senators called that “a game” Thursday and denounced the governor and Hall for defying the committee. They said Thursday that Hall’s appointment happened while the Senate was in recess and so the Senate can move forward on his confirmation immediately. Hall has been serving as secretary in an interim capacity, GOP Senators argued, and can’t do so until May.
Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), co-chairman of the committee, said he was “disappointed” that Hall again failed to appear Thursday.
“At this point Secretary Hall and his boss [the governor] are openly defying not just the legislative legal authority to call witnesses to the committee but the very, very plain language found in the North Carolina constitution,” Meredith said.
Democratic Senators questioned the appropriateness of the subpoena and held that the court order makes it clear how the confirmation hearings must proceed.
“I think it’s very much a game, an unnecessary game,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) of the subpoena and the committee’s insistence on moving forward with confirmation hearings. “We should be working together. Regardless of who that governor is, regardless of what that party is, we need to be working together as a team for the benefit of all the citizens of this state.”
Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) said he had respect for Hall in working with him over his years as an N.C. House member but is appalled that Hall has shown such disrespect for the committee and the process of confirmation.
“I thought he was a strong leader in the House,” Hise said. “It is my hope he’s being forced to do this, that this is not directly his choice. And we have issues with anyone who would force the secretary to disobey the law.”
Hall could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
A spokesman for Gov. Roy Cooper denounced the committee’s action Thursday.
“Larry Hall is a Marine Corps veteran and longtime legislator who brings a wealth of experience to his work as Secretary for military and veterans affairs,” the spokesman said in a statement. “It’s disappointing that this committee, which has ignored the findings of a court order by meeting prematurely, would engage in this political charade when there’s so much to focus on – repealing HB2 and raising teacher pay. We look forward to the March 7 hearing on the constitutionality of this unprecedented process.”