Freshman North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration added to its staff this week, but opened itself up for instant criticism after it failed to indicate how much money each hire will make.
Recently, the Gov. was criticized for dishing out a 8 percent increase in spending to secretaries of his incoming cabinet over the amount his Democratic predecessor spent.
The belt-loosening Gov. pay raise provided and as much as an additional $13,000 to some.
GOP lawmakers changed state law last year to give the governor the power to determine cabinet salaries, a change from the previous year when all eight secretaries made $121,807, as set in state law.
Of the raises, Aldona Wos, health and human services; Kieran Shanahan, public safety; Tony Tata, transportation; and Sharon Decker, commerce all now make $135,000, or 11 percent more. John Skvarla, environment and natural resources; Lyons Gray, revenue; Bill Daughtridge, administration; and Susan Kluttz, cultural resources saw their pay increase to $128,000, a 5 percent hike.
In contrast, the State Employees Association of North Carolina only saw a 1.2% salary increase in last year’s budget, according to the association website.
“Before that our members hadn’t seen a raise since 2008,” spokesman Johnathon Owens told The Tribune.
As far as the additional staff salaries, the governor’s press office informed The Tribune it would not release salaries until the office is fully staffed.
State law though requires an employee’s salary and other information be made available for public inspection during regular business hours.
The following is a profile of each new appointment without an attached salary:
Crystal Feldman, Press Secretary – Feldman joins the governor’s press office after most recently serving as Press Secretary for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. She previously served as a spokesperson for the California Republican Party and Communications Director for Sue Lowden’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Nevada. Feldman is a graduate of Georgetown University.
Ricky Diaz, Deputy Communications Director – Diaz joins the McCrory administration after most recently serving as Press Secretary for Governor McCrory’s campaign and Deputy Communications Director for his transition team. Prior to joining the McCrory campaign, Diaz served as Director of Media Affairs for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In 2010, Diaz joined Richard Burr’s campaign for U.S. Senate, where he served as Deputy Communications Director and served as e-Campaign Director for Chris Christie’s campaign for governor in 2009. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University.
Jenny Steele, Press Assistant – Steele joins the governor’s press office after most recently interning for Governor McCrory’s campaign. She is a Charlotte native and recent graduate of Auburn University, where she majored in Journalism.
Blannie Cheng, Deputy Advisor for Jobs and the Economy – Cheng joins the McCrory Administration after working as a tax and private equity attorney at Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, L.L.P., the largest law firm based in the Research Triangle. Blannie serves on the Development Committee for the North Carolina Bar Association and is a graduate of the UNC School of Law.
Meredith McCullen, Scheduling Director – McCullen joins the governor’s team after serving as Scheduling Director for Governor McCrory’s campaign and transition. She is a Clayton native and graduate of Appalachian State University and Suffolk University, where she earned a Masters in Political Science.