Some of N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory's appointments are raising eyebrows.
Some of N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory's appointments are raising eyebrows.

Cabinet of Controversy: N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory’s 5 most dubious appointments

Pat McCrory was sworn in as North Carolina's new governor in a private ceremony on Jan. 5, becoming the first Republican in 20 years to hold the state's top office. He joins veto-proof Republican supermajorities in the state House and Senate as well as a conservative majority on the state Supreme Court.

The public inaugural celebration will take place this weekend, with a parade, parties, musical performances, and a formal ball whose lead sponsors include tobacco giant Reynolds American.

Meanwhile, McCrory has finished assembling his cabinet (and giving its members generous raises) and making other key appointments -- and some of his choices are raising observers' eyebrows. Here are five of the most controversial:

1. Art Pope: The Koch brother from another mother in charge of the state budget. After co-founding the Libertarian Party of North Carolina while studying political science at UNC, Pope went on to earn a Duke law degree and serve as special counsel to Gov. Jim Martin, the state's last Republican governor, and four terms as a Republican state representative.

Today Pope is known for his generous contributions to conservative think tanks and politicians, including at least $20,000 he and his immediate family contributed to McCrory in the latest election. The money comes from the family business Pope heads -- the North Carolina-based Variety Wholesalers discount retail chain.

Pope is a close associate of prominent conservative philanthropists David and Charles Koch of the Kansas-based Koch Industries oil and chemical conglomerate. He served as a national director of the Koch-funded tea party group Americans for Prosperity and attended the Koch brothers' annual VIP strategy meetings for wealthy conservatives. In addition, Pope's family foundation has contributed at least $1.9 million to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, making it the group's second-largest backer after the Kochs.

Now -- after Pope's long involvement in a political movement that advocates a free-market ideology, opposes tax increases on principle and questions the very role of government -- McCrory has named him director of the Office of State Budget and Management.

"This would be like a President Romney appointing the Koch brothers as his directors of the EPA and IRS," wrote Rob Schofield at N.C. Policy Watch's Progressive Pulse blog.

2. Kieran Shanahan: Found guilty of assaulting a neighbor's children, now leads the Department of Public Safety. A graduate of East Carolina University and UNC law school, Shanahan spent over five years as an assistant U.S. attorney before launching his private law practice in Raleigh, N.C. He's long been involved in Republican Party politics, serving as counsel for the state GOP and four terms on Raleigh city council. He's also been mentioned as a possible Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in 2014.

But in 1996, while still on city council, Shanahan was found guilty of two counts of misdemeanor assault for an incident in which he roughed up two neighborhood boys, ages 11 and 13, who were involved in a fight with Shanahan's children. Instead of being formally convicted, though, Shanahan won a "prayer for judgment continued" from the sympathetic judge -- essentially, a warning without a penalty.

"I believe in my heart that I did the right thing," Shanahan told The News & Observer at the time. "I think this will enhance my stature and reputation."

3. John Skvarla: A science skeptic takes over the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In 1978, with a law degree from UNC, Skvarla founded the Raleigh, N.C.-based law firm of Skvarla, Wyrick and Robbins, specializing in corporate taxes and capital formation -- the same firm where Pope served as an associate attorney from 1982 through 1984.

After leaving the firm in 1984, Skvarla went into business, running a variety of companies. Since 2005, he has served as president, chief operating officer and then CEO of Raleigh, N.C.-based Restoration Systems, a "mitigation banking" firm that restores wetlands for credits it sells to developers to make up for those destroyed elsewhere, as required by the federal Clean Water Act.

Environmental advocates greeted Skvarla's appointment with cautious optimism given his experience and statements that his agency's work would be grounded in science. But that hope turned into shock after an interview with WRAL reporter Laura Leslie in which Skvarla expressed unscientific and poorly informed views.

For one thing, Skvarla rejects the scientific consensus on the reality of human-caused climate change, dismissing Leslie's observation there was such a consensus as "misleading." The problem of climate change is a major concern for the North Carolina, which is in a hotspot for sea-level rise related to global warming.

"I have studied this every day for almost 10 years, and I know there's great divergence of opinion on the science of climate," Skvarla said. "I'm not ready to say which is right and which is wrong."

Skvarla also questions whether oil -- which McCrory wants to drill for off North Carolina's coast as soon as possible -- is a finite resource. He pointed to the discredited Russian theory of abiotic petroleum, which holds that oil is not a fossil fuel formed from ancient zooplankton and algae but instead comes from deep carbon deposits that date back as far as the earth's formation. It's a theory popular among creationists who want to believe the earth is only 6,000 years old.

But at the same time Skvarla has been studying fringe ideas about climate and oil, he was ignoring a very real problem facing coal-dependent North Carolina: poorly regulated disposal of coal ash waste, which has resulted in groundwater contamination at 14 power plants across the state owned by Duke Energy, where McCrory worked for 28 years.

Asked about coal ash by Leslie, Skvarla replied, "It's not something that I'm overly familiar with at this point, so to opine on it would not do justice to the topic."

4. Tony Tata: Fired as superintendent of the state's largest public school system following a transportation fiasco, put in charge of the Department of Transportation. A retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army who served as the deputy commander of the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, Tata attended The Broad Superintendents Academy, a 10-month program founded by billionaire businessman and education reform advocate Eli Broad to train non-educators to run urban school systems.

In 2009, controversial former D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee recruited Tata to serve as her chief operating officer. The following year, he was picked to serve as superintendent of the public schools in Wake County, N.C. -- hired by a school board that had recently been taken over by Republicans in an electoral effort for which Art Pope served as a financier and chief architect. The Republican board moved quickly to scrap a longstanding desegregation policy designed to prevent concentrated poverty in schools, sparking a wave of protests and a political backlash that resulted in Democrats taking back board control in 2011.

The new Democratic board majority kept Tata on as superintendent despite complaints about his educational inexperience and reportedly bullying management style. But the last straw was the chaos that ensued at the start of this school year, when Tata's decision to take 52 school buses off the road to save money led to a weeks-long debacle where buses arrived late or not at all, stranding children and inconveniencing parents. The board fired Tata last September after less than two years in office.

In naming Tata to lead the state Department of Transportation, McCrory said, "If he can do it in Afghanistan, he can do it here" -- apparently ignoring the fact that Tata was unable to do it in Wake County, N.C.

5. Aldona Wos: Chosen to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, raising questions about McCrory's pledge to reject pay-to-play politics. A Polish-born physician who grew up on Long Island, Wos left her home in New York City for Greensboro, N.C. in 1997 when her husband, Louis DeJoy, started a private logistics company there whose clients include the U.S. Marine Corps and the Postal Service. Wos soon became one of the top Republican fundraisers in North Carolina, resulting in her 2004 appointment by President George W. Bush as ambassador to Estonia.

Wos and her husband have contributed generously to McCrory's gubernatorial campaigns -- the maximum of $16,000 in his failed 2008 campaign, and at least $13,000 in the latest election cycle (final reports are still being tallied). Altogether, Wos, her family and employees of her husband's company have contributed over $216,000 to McCrory's campaign and the state Republican Party since 2008, according to an analysis by the liberal advocacy group Progress NC. Wos also served as co-chair of McCrory's recent campaign.

Though Wos has no experience in state government, McCrory appointed her to run the state Department of Health and Human Services, a massive agency with 17,000 employees and an $18 billion budget. That has led Progress NC and other critics to question the sincerity of McCrory's campaign promise to end the political patronage system that flourished under the Democrats.

"Pat McCrory isn't shy about rewarding big campaign donors with plum jobs in his administration," Progress NC said about the Wos appointment.

Some of N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory's appointments are raising eyebrows.
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Recall Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory should be recalled as governor of North Carolina. He is breaking campaign promises and rapidly turning the state into an undesirable place to live.

McCrory is the pre-historic king

Pat McCrory is the typical, citizen who longs for a return to a fantasy view of the past and is incapable of grasping today's big picture. We have to suffer under his leadership until the hole gets so deep that we vote him out. Oh! the damage that will be done until he is voted out. We will become the least productive and progressive state. We will deny healthcare to our citizens.
We will slowly become the state to avoid. We will migrate to third world status as we are led by the moronic views of McCrory's appointees. We will suffer under the philosophy that the poor are not our less talented or fortunate or crafty brothers and sisters but rather lazy takers who choose to avoid work. We will punish them for being less fortunate and be damned proud of it. Our only hope is the slow advancement of insight into the workings of the cold, controlling, selfish minds of the McCrory types in our state that cannot grasp the fact that each citizen is as valuable as the next and , more importantly, that prioritizing 'business health' over positive quality of life for all citizens will result in the 'third worlding' of North Carolina.

Budget Cuts

Governor Pat McCrory's cuts to unemployment will be difficult to reconcile given his lavish sslary increases for his "friends". I wonder if this was his decision or Art Pope's. It seems that our new governor as already started to self-destruct and will become very unpopular soon.I've always enjoyed watching Republicans destroy themselves. He may very well become North Carolina's equivalent to Camden N.J. political mob boss George E. Norcross. It becomes more obvious with each day that our Mr.McCrory is a puppet for more sinister forces like Duke Energy and Art Pope from which he can't afford to distance himself. He has already become Be-loved by a few and hated my many. His wounds are all self-inflicted.

I thought Pat might have some

I thought Pat might have some power. He knows about that better than I do; these appointments, and his shameful comments on possibly NC's greatest asset - our fine state universities - tell me he's in WAY over his head. Pat went to Catawba College, a liberal arts college, which just sent an alumni mailing bragging that he's the new governor.

I'll bet Catawba wishes they hadn't mailed that out yet.

Smart guy, could have been a smart governor and led our state to great things. Instead, he's just going to be the same suck-up who rammed through an arena the taxpayers had voted down.

Why is North Carolina in Denial?

As an outsider, I am honestly curious as to why North Carolina has some of the worst politicians in the state when it comes to climate change denial. North Carolina doesn't have major oil or coal industries, right? Is it the tobacco industry's influence? The tobacco industry funds the same "think tanks" as oil and coal, the ones that have forced their climate denial campaigns on us, and these organizations have adopted many of the same PR people and tactics as the tobacco industry. Is it that, or something else? Not long ago I remember NC was embracing new technology industries and now NC is anti-science. I am honestly just curious and hope an intelligent educated citizen can enlighten me.

NC Teabaggers

I know. It is so scary to live in NC these days. They actually want to have a state religion. Not to mention they want no college degrees for charter teachers-or backround checks!! Sounds too crazy to be true. This state has been blue for a long time-30+ years. Now we get what seems to be the biggest, baddest teabaggers of them all & they are all in cahoots to screw over poor people. I'm a single, disabled mother of an 11 yr. old & he's talking about privatizing medicaid & denied the expansion of medicaid to 650,000 NC people, even though he talked so much about God. Seems like the ones who mention God the most are the ones who do the exact opposite of what Jesus would do. They all need to check themselves. I'd like to see them live on 13,000 a yr. while raising a child with no help from Gulf War Vet husband who has PTSD & never got needed help from VA like he tried to get & left us for the bottle. We do have a green energy program here, but they are wanting to repeal it, along with the racial justice act & death penalty. Ahhhhh!!!! Get me off this crazy ride! I wish I could sue the NC Govt. for the panic attacks they give me. No, correction, the Republican Party- the new American Taliban. Hate woman's rights, love guns, only their religion is the right religion, anti-science & education, endorsed torture-need I say more? Peace! It would be nice for a change!



Gov. Pat McCrory's Cabinet Raises!

Here in NC we got tired of the same old thing in State Gov. we voted for Pat McCrory in hopes we would have an breath of fresh air and to finally have an Gov. that would be different in an good way, someone that would be for the good of NC, The Citizens & State Employee's at his mercy for an better way of life/living. So far we get an shock that some of the same old starts right up with giving his cabinet team an very nice raise. With the problems that we have there is no reason that "ALL" of the Cabinet Staff could have kept the SALARY when hired. Please let the rest of us live off of their salary they started with or also give way long over due State Employee's the raise that Gov. McCrory gave to his staff, they have been employeed alot longer and still haven't been brought up to what they should make for them and their famalies to be able to live off of and so many have to work 2 & 3 jobs just to make it. Still the same OLD WAYS of low income/middle class always and still carry the load of maying so many taxes that WE CAN'T AFFORD, it not right not looking out for us when we have done so much. We still have to choose to buy our meds. or get food. We shouldn't have to pay taxes on food & clothes. WHEN IS STATE GOV. & Gov. Pat McCrory going to own up and do what is right. So far those of us that voted for Pat McCrory, have been played for fools. The right thing for Pat McCrory Cabinet to do would have been to turn the raises down. God Bless the lady that took an $1.00 Salary! This is someone who cares, has heart and compassion and is one of us. What happen to the rest of you & why Gov. McCrory have you let us all down except for your raises that you gave to your cabinet saying thank you for all the donations that you gave me to get here, you know there are alot of us that voted for you but we didn't have any money to give because we need to be able to eat, barely keep an roof over our heads, please do wht is right! For those of us that believe, we know that God will do what's right. Good luck & I hope when you put your head down at night that you truly can think that you have done the right thing and get an good night's sleep!

I feel your pain. Please

I feel your pain. Please check out or Free Speech TV, Link or RT ( News by, of & for the people. run by viewer donations, not run by corp.overlords & no advertisers so they can say the truth. They have great investigative journalists who get the truth. I wish people knew ho the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity (just cause it sounds good doesn't mean diddly!), Art Pope & the rest of the tea party movement is not about small govt. like they said, it is all about stripping low & mid class & giving it all to the wealthiest few. We have billionaires threatening to take away free school lunches! It is a sad time in NC. I fear these men. I pray for a recall. Peace!

Commie? Comrade? Really? Is

Commie? Comrade? Really? Is that the best you can come up with off the cuff? Not surprising. Here's a tip. The cold war ended up almost thirty years ago. Your jibes are as old and useless as you are. If you can't debate properly, at least make your lame attempt at an insult entertaining. Get some new material, come back, and try again.

The true "Red Party"

The "Red Party" is the Republic Party whose signature color is red. They vigorously promote the billionaire ruling class above all else. The ignore our dire environmental issues, they reject science in favor of ignorance and they champion fairy tale religiosity in the face of common sense. They try to quash the rights of women, gays and immigrants. They are about as ignorant and evil an organization as I have seen in my lifetime.

I work to vote the Red Party out at every turn, but mother nature and the internet is doing my work for me. These "angry old white men" are dying out, and the people are becoming educated about their true goals and methods more every day, sharing information like this article faster than they can spread their hate and ignorance.

Rock on, Southern Studies! Bring it to them!

This is hilarious.

This is hilarious.

Pat Mac

I am one of many Charlotte residents that dislike the way Pat McCrory went against our wishes of publicly funding the sports stadium. I have not voted for him since.
With that said, I am impressed with his line up.
The reporter for this article should take a chill pill if they are to be believed with future articles.

Keep Up the Good Work

We need to keep up with this administration's every move, they are not for NC. Can anyone say 'recall'??

I notice the little internet snakes are out, also, calling this a commie blog. Sadly, they have no real argument.

Cabinet of Controversy: N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory’s 5 most dubious a

The inmates are now officially running the asylum!
(and the only other comment so far on this excellent article is by some nut who still thinks "commie" is a powerful insult! He's living way in the past.)

Nice little commie blog,

Nice little commie blog, comrade.

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