The political warfare over his political appointees that has overshadowed the fledgling weeks of Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration spread to another front last week after Cooper named former Surf City Mayor Zander Guy, who was convicted in 1990 on financial fraud charges, to lead the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Guy was sentenced to three years in prison for fraudulently billing clients of his insurance agency for nearly $16,000, but former Gov. Jim Martin commuted his sentence and later pardoned him.
Guy announced his resignation from the costal city on Friday morning and began work today, at an annual salary of $113,456, according to the Star News in Wilmington.
Guy previously served as a member of the commission under Gov. Bev Perdue and served as mayor since 1999. Prior to his conviction, Guy served as mayor in Jacksonville and worked in real estate development.
Michelle Nix, the NCGOP vice chairman, released a statement saying: “Really? Governor Roy Cooper is replacing the [former] Lieutenant Governor Jim Gardner with a convicted felon who will oversee staffers and a large state budget.”
She added, “Certainly Governor Cooper understands that his appointments are a reflection of his own values and those of his constituents.”
Guy’s appointment is just the latest in a string of controversies over political appointees as the Democratic governor engages the Republican-led legislature in court over a recent change to give the Senate confirmation authority over his cabinet secretaries.
Last week Cooper’s secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs, Larry Hall, was subpoenaed to attend his confirmation hearing after missing three hearings while a court case over the state’s authority to hold the confirmation hearings is decided.
Hall did agree to attend a confirmation hearing last Thursday, allowing the Senate confirmation process to formally begin. Hall was unanimously approved in the Senate committee as well as in the nominating committee. His nomination is expected to see a full vote in the Senate today or Tuesday.
Also announced Friday were Cooper’s picks for the chairs of the Ethics Commission, the Lottery Commission and the Arts Council.
Cooper announced Jane Finch as the head of the Ethics Commission. Finch is a Democrat who has served on the board since 1993 and will replace John Branch, who was appointed by former Gov. Pat McCrory in December.
However, Finch’s nomination could be contentious because of the recent combining of the Ethics Commission and the State Board of Elections into one entity.
Cooper argues that he is able to name a leader to the commission while the case moves forward, while Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) argues that a court order in the case means the Ethics Commission does not exist.
Berger issued a statement saying, in part: “Gov. Roy Cooper has brazenly defied an order of the State Court of Appeals by attempting to name a chair of the State Ethics Commission that no longer exists.
“Cooper’s repeated unethical actions make clear why he sued to block the new bipartisan board that would have replaced it and is attempting to maintain total control of ethics oversight of elected officials, and we are conferring with our attorneys about appropriate options to hold him accountable for violating this court order.”
Named to lead the state Lottery Commission was Courtney Crowder, a lobbyist who previously worked under Perdue. Stephen Hill, director for Hillco, Ltd., will serve as chair of the Arts Council.
“I am confident these leaders will serve our great state with distinction, and I am grateful for their service,” Cooper said in a news release.