The eight appointed members of the bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement on Wednesday unanimously selected two nominees for the final seat on the State Board.
Both are unaffiliated voters in accordance with state law that neither can be affiliated with either of the two largest political parties in the state which hold four seats on the board each, in this case Republicans and Democrats.
The two nominees are Damon Circosta, executive director of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and Burley Mitchell, former chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
The nominees will now be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper to decide which of the two will become the ninth member on the bipartisan board to ensure that votes will not be dead locked.
The nominees were decided at the inaugural meeting of the board, which was recently appointed by Cooper after more than a year of legal squabbling over the constitutionality of the board, in which time Cooper declined to appoint a board.
The Board oversees elections in North Carolina, as well as campaign finance, ethics and lobbying reporting and compliance.
The first official order of business for the board was to put forth two nominees to fill out their ranks and once the final member is seated then the new body can take on the elections and ethics issues of the state.
Already some are making statements regarding which of the two nominees they prefer including Civitas Institute President Donald Bryson who said he was surprised that Circosta would be nominated as the independent voting member of the board. Bryson states that if Cooper selects Circosta that he is choosing politics over bipartisanship.
“To call the nomination of such an ideological partisan as Circosta ‘surprising’ is an understatement,” declared Bryson. “If Governor Cooper wants to immediately undermine the bipartisan legitimacy of the State Board of Elections, then this nomination is the one he will accept.”
A press release from the Civitas Institute, which publishes NC Capitol Connection, pegged Circosta’s past affiliation with groups such as the North Carolina Justice Center, Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Common Cause NC through his work with the A.J. Fletcher Foundation.
Jim Goodmon, who chairs the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, has been very active in progressive politics in North Carolina.
The release said that if Cooper were to pick Circosta that his decision could only be viewed as political cronyism.
“The comparison between the two candidates, in terms of level-headed non-partisan judgment, is not close,” Bryson said. “Governor Cooper needs to consider if he wants to appoint a member to the ethics board who has a laudable public record or a member who is bankrolled by one of the largest progressive political donors in North Carolina? Is Governor Cooper willing to give Jim Goodmon the deciding vote on the State Board of Elections?”