Publisher's note: This post, by Donald Bryson, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.
In an article
published on April 1, NC Policy Watch's Rob Schofield makes a series of concerning arguments about the North Carolina State Treasurer's office.
The current State Treasurer, Dale Folwell (a Republican), has been diagnosed
with COVID-19 and has self-quarantined. However, in that context, Schofield quickly jumps to the conclusion that Treasurer Folwell may be completely incapacitated and unable to perform his constitutional duties. He then leaps from that conclusion to a discussion about a plan of succession for the office of Treasurer and who can administer the powers of that office. Schofield writes, "Folwell doesn't appear to be empowered under state law to simply designate such a person. That power resides with the governor."
Remember, the office of State Treasurer is a duly elected official, not appointed by the governor. Schofield launches into nothing less than a partisan power grab with his arguments. What Schofield is implying is:
- Treasurer Folwell does not have the legal authority to name someone with the power of his office while he is incapacitated; and
- Cooper may need to consider replacing Treasurer Folwell.
However, Schofield is incorrect in his legal opinion because he was not thorough. While he does cite other parts of the state constitution and state law, he missed Chapter 147 of the North Carolina General Statutes, which pertains directly to State Officers. General Statute 147-75
- The Treasurer may authorize a deputy to perform any duties pertaining to the office. The Treasurer may authorize a deputy to affix the Treasurer's signature to any check, warrant or any other instrument the Treasurer is required to sign. The Treasurer shall be responsible for the conduct of his or her deputies.
In other words, Treasurer Folwell has broad authority to name someone to take over the bulk of his duties.
Rob Schofield and NC Policy Watch have been vocal enemies of Treasurer Folwell (see HERE
, and HERE
, for examples). However, even hinting at replacing a duly elected state officer - particularly one that has been an opponent of NC Policy Watch - and that selection being done by a political ally (Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat), smacks of a political coup.
NC Policy Watch is a project of the liberal North Carolina Justice Center
, which receives significant funding from the AJ Fletcher Foundation
and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
Using a public health crisis to advance political goals is shameful, not to mention the method prescribed in the article is contrary to state law. Now is not the time or place for Schofield to be speculating about the health of Folwell for partisan political purposes. NC Policy Watch should unpublish the article and spend more time chasing facts than fake narratives
North Carolina needs more in-depth and more responsible thinkers than this in the field of public policy.