I find it remarkable how in the age of Trump, the entire Republican Party has lost any sense of shame. Yesterday, we learned that Senate President Pro-tem Phil Berger is buying a house in Raleigh with campaign funds. Instead of trying to rationalize it in some way, a GOP official, Dylan Watts, attacked campaign finance reform advocate Bob Hall, calling him a “scumbag” and “bottom-feeder” filing a complaint. Nobody in the Republican Party called him out or even seemed shocked by the language. They’re not embarrassed by Berger’s brazen conversion of campaign cash into a personal slush fund and they’re not embarrassed by Watts’ defamatory language.
At the UNC Board of Governors, it’s worse. Republicans have appointed a busload of clowns to oversee the university system. They began by firing UNC President Tom Ross for no reason other than he was registered as a Democrat. They continued by hiring their own people and then running them off just as fast. They’ve gone through more university chancellors in less time than anyone can remember. It’s a revolving door of people tired of being micromanaged by leaders who suffer from big egos and low IQs.
Now, it turns out that members of the Board of Governors have been hiring private investigators to dig up dirt on university employees. It seems that Board of Governor member and former Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer teamed up with Republican House Majority Leader John Bell to bring down Dan Gerlach, the interim chancellor of East Carolina University who stepped down after videos revealed him drinking with students and apparently weaving down a sidewalk.
Fetzer and Bell hired the private investigator even though the university was already investigating. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time, since the PI says he also worked for former Board Chair Harry Smith who now has announced he’s stepping down altogether. It’s like the Clinton impeachment fiasco. The GOP impeached the president and the whole House leadership had to resign. Same with the BOG.
That’s two chancellors they’ve brought down at ECU. Former Board Chair and comic book villain look-alike Harry Smith put enough pressure on Chancellor Cecil Staton to force him out. Staton was recruited by Republicans to take the job, but apparently thwarted Harry Smith’s attempt to profit off his tenure. Gerlach replaced Staton but also committed the sin of being a Democrat.
So far, the Board of Governors has fired one UNC president for no reason, run off their own star-powered hire Margaret Spellings, lost the chancellor of the flagship university and presided over turnover at numerous universities in the system. Only four of the state’s 17 campuses have chancellors who’ve been on the job longer than five years. The BOG has specialized in micromanaging and now it appears that they’re also spying on employees.
These people have no shame. They see public service as an opportunity to make money and bully employees. They exploit their positions and embarrass the state. Unfortunately, they lack the self-awareness to suffer embarrassment themselves. It’s not a clown car. It’s whole clown bus.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >