Former budget director Perusse returning to post for Cooper
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — New North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday named four state government veterans to take key positions in his administration, including the former state budget director under the two most recent Democratic governors.
Charlie Perusse — Cooper’s choice as budget director — served about two years as Gov. Beverly Perdue’s budget director until early 2011. He also served more than six years in the budget office of Gov. Mike Easley, including about five months as acting director starting in August 2008.
Most recently chief operating officer for the University of North Carolina system, Perusse returns to the same role of carrying out the current $22.3 billion state budget and future spending directives approved by the legislature.
The budget director also often serves as an informal lobbyist for the governor’s initiatives at the General Assembly, which will be challenging in an era of partisan division and veto-proof majorities for Republican lawmakers. But Perusse’s experience, which includes an early career job in the General Assembly’s nonpartisan staff, should help him.
Cooper also announced William McKinney will be his chief legal counsel, Barbara Gibson will direct the Office of State Human Resources and Noelle Talley will join his press office. All three worked for Cooper in the Department of Justice, which Cooper had led as attorney general since 2001. Talley was the department’s public information officer. Gibson led the human resources office for the past 16 years. McKinney was Cooper’s special counsel in the department.
Cooper unveiled names of only a few people to serve in his administration before he was sworn in to office early Sunday within minutes of the new year starting. The traditional public inauguration ceremony still will be held this Saturday in front of the state archives building in Raleigh.
“We are putting together a deeply talented team and I’m excited that these experienced leaders with proven results will help me move our state forward,” Cooper said in Monday’s news release.
None of Cooper’s announced hires to date would appear subject to a Senate confirmation process the legislature approved and outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law two weeks ago.
According to legislative staff, the new law covers the non-elected heads of 11 principal government agencies, nearly all of which are considered official members of the governor’s Cabinet. The state Constitution gives the Senate power for “advice and consent” of the governor’s officers, but it hasn’t been used for Cabinet secretaries for at least several decades. A court challenge to the law is possible. Cooper already has sued to challenge a law approved last month that reduces his ability to control operations of state elections.