Shades of Gray: McCrory appointed judge, candidate contributions

According to North Carolina state campaign finance reports 17 candidate contributions have been attributed to Judge Beecher “Gus” Gray since 2008, totaling $12,046 received by 5 candidates. If the reports are correct some would seem to represent violations of the NC Judicial Code of Conduct. Canon 7 of the Code prohibits judges from personally making financial contributions or loans to almost all individuals seeking election to office.

Beecher Reynolds Gray was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory as a Special Superior Court Judge in January 2014, prior to which he had served as an Administrative Law Judge for the Office of Administrative Hearings since 1986. He was sworn in 01/09/2014 for a term ending 01/09/2019. Six of the 17 contributions have been recorded since taking office. The six campaign contributions provided $1,000 to Pat McCrory, $2,650 to Brent Jackson, and $1,000 to Phil Berger Sr. (These six contributions are specifically covered by the Judicial Code of Conduct)*.

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Previous Newby contributions

The Pat McCrory Committee reported a contribution of $500 on 9/18/08 from Paul Newby, listed as “Associate Justice, NC Supreme Court”. The Committee to Elect Dan Forest reported a contribution of $500 on 10/19/12 from Paul Newby, listed as “Supreme Ct Justice, State of NC”. The candidate contributions appear to have violated a section of the NC Code of Judicial Conduct which limits the political activity of judges, but the 90 day window for reporting and taking action on such violations has long since passed.
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McCrory Nominee Charlton Allen’s Homophobically Dubious Past

Attorney Charlton Allen’s nomination by Governor Pat McCrory to serve on the quasi-judicial Industrial Commission has come under fire. An article today by the Independent Weekly lays out some of Allen’s “Racially Dubious Past”, in particular his activities while a student at UNC Chapel Hill in the early 1990s.

“They [led by Allen] also deposited an inflatable sheep at the headquarters of the campus Gay-Straight Alliance to equate homosexuality with bestiality. One issue of the Carolina Review featured a black man in a bull’s eye. Some issues featured cartoons with pictures of Klansmen.”

More recently he expressed his opposition to protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation in answering a 2012 candidate questionnaire from the NC Family Policy Council:
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John Skvarla’s Happy Teeth

DENR Secretary John Skvarla grimaced his way through a February 19th press briefing on the Dan River coal ash spill. Only as he walked smartly away from a clamoring press corps, which was chagrined at the briefing’s premature cessation, did he crack a smile, followed by a smirking Tom Reeder, his Water Quality Man Friday. They had promised a press conference that would last as long as there were questions to be asked, but Michael Biesecker of the Associated Press had apparently asked one too many.
SkvarlaSmiling
A disconsolate Skvarla famously urged his besieged staff to “smile, be happy, have fun and enjoy the process – because if we can’t do that we’re all doing the wrong thing”. He even urged them by email to include it as a measurable goal in their Employee Performance Plans. By any public measure Skvarla is failing miserably in this category, though to be fair he and other political appointees may sit around privately laughing at the sorry state of North Carolina’s eroding environmental protections.

Skvarla’s oral fixation manifested itself early as he visited DENR’s disparate divisions and offices to get to know his new underlings. He surprised some managers in conversation with his personal affectation for tooth brushing after lunch, which he claimed put a whole new shine and invigorating outlook on the rest of the working day. It might have been dismissed as personal quirk except that later in the year at a DENR leadership training session, after regaling managers with his life story, personal leadership credo and management mantras, he had staff distribute toothbrushes emblazoned with the DENR logo along with toothpaste for the purpose of invigorating the latter half of every work day.
SkvarlaToothbrush
The inner cynic thinks this was dreamed up, Mad Men style, over mid-day martinis, but it’s entirely plausible that regular preventive maintenance can lead to a better and more productive work environment. Perhaps we could all learn from Skvarla’s happy teeth. Perhaps this could apply equally to the natural environment. How hard could it be? Because, if we can’t have a better natural environment “we’re all doing the wrong thing”.