Governor Roy Cooper’s first cabinet picks controversial

by and Francis De Luca

Raleigh, NC – Governor Roy Cooper’s decision to wait to announce his cabinet appointments until after his swearing in is highly unusual as reported in this recent Civitas article. In the article, Francis De Luca pointed out that just days before Cooper was sworn into office, he had “yet to announce any of the cabinet or high level administrative officials needed to run a government.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

Yesterday, three days after being sworn-in to office, Cooper was quoted as saying; “We’re hitting the ground running by making sure veteran managers are in place across state agencies,” then he announced only two of his ten cabinet nominees. Up until January 3rd he even refused to name the interim heads of the agencies after firing the previous agency heads midnight New Year’s eve.

As he makes these announcements, you can start to see why he delayed. His choices are sure to be controversial and to bring criticism and anger from many of those who voted for him.

The first of his cabinet appointments, Michael Regan, was named as nominee for Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality. With this appointment Cooper signals his allegiance to the most radical elements of the environmental movement.

Until recently, Regan was a Senior Official of the radical Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). He served with the EDF since 2008 and his most recent position was as Associate Vice President, U.S. Climate and Energy & Southeast Regional Director.

EDF is a mega non-profit with reported assets over $204 million in 2015 with an agenda that rivals the most radical of environmental groups. Fully supporting President Obama’s climate agenda that included his War on Coal (an effort to shut down all coal-fired power plants) EDF ran political ads against Republican senators in 2013.

More important is the role Regan and the EDF had with Blueprint NC, the liberal umbrella organization that is known for producing and releasing a 2013 strategy memo that described a game plan for progressive groups to use to attack (by “crippling”) the newly elected Republican governor and leaders in the Republican-majority House and Senate.  The memo directed its members to “eviscerate, mitigate, litigate, cogitate and agitate” the state’s Republican leadership.

The members of Blueprint waged a four-year war on McCrory and the Republican legislature. Their ultimate aim was to capture political control of North Carolina and advance their radical progressive agenda.

Before EDF, Regan worked for the EPA for ten years. The EPA and EDF work together to advance the radical environmentalist agenda. They cooperated with groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council in what is known as “Sue and Settle” agreements. Radical environmentalist like the NRDC would sue the EPA and progressive government employees would settle out of court and pay the legal costs and do what the NRDC wanted. No new laws needed!

The combination of these two powerful entities is not lost on political operatives. According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Staff Report (July 30, 2014):

“Under President Obama, EPA has given more than $27 million in taxpayer-funded grants to major environmental groups. Notably, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund – two key activist groups with significant ties to senior EPA officials – have collected more than $1 million in funding each. (Pg. 34)”

If Cooper was looking for a very well-connected player in the worldwide radical environmental movement – he found him in Michael Regan.

Governor Cooper’s second controversial appointment was Jim Trogdon as North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary. While much of Trogdon’s experience is within DOT (he retired as the department’s COO in 2013), the appointment might be viewed as a “finger in the eye” to the I-77 toll road opponents.

The I-77 toll road was a major factor in the 2016 Gubernatorial campaign. While former Governor McCrory attempted to ignore the controversy, Roy Cooper indicated that he sided with the opponents.

WSOC TV reports that after Trogdon left NC DOT in 2013 he went to work for Atkins. WSOC TV reports:“Atkins is an engineering firm that works with P3 projects– public and private partnerships to build things like toll lanes.”

WSOC also reported that while serving with Atkins, Trogdon penned an article called “To Toll or Not To Toll.”

“Tolling appears superior to all other options,” Trogdon argues. “Degraded trip reliability, congestion and lost productivity appear more costly than tolls. In short, tolling proved beneficial to those who value their time.”

In light of the Trogdon appointment, Cooper has said that his opinion of the I-77 toll road hasn’t changed. Many political observers attribute Cooper’s victory to the damage done to McCrory in the I-77 toll road corridor. McCrory finished over 30k votes behind other GOP candidates in the precincts most impacted.

The North Carolina Cabinet is made up of unelected heads of the executive departments of the North Carolina government appointed by the governor. The departments include Administration, Commerce, Environmental Quality, Health and Human Services, Information Technology, Military and Veterans Affairs, Natural and Cultural Resources, Public Safety, Revenue and Transportation.

During the recent special legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly added a provision to state law that Cabinet appointments require the advice and consent of the North Carolina State Senate.

Courtesy of Civitas Institute