John Brooks dismissed as chair of NCDP Council of Review

Former Labor Commissioner John Brooks has been removed as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Council of Review, the party’s committee tasked with resolving internal disputes. In her letter dismissing Brooks, NCDP Chair Patsy Keever referenced multiple violations of the party’s Plan of Organization, as well as, Brooks’ refusal to delay a hearing scheduled for Sunday April 12, at 9:00 a.m. after the Respondent suffered a serious heart attack on Thursday April 2, and underwent emergency surgery. Keever ended her letter with the simple admonishment,

“We cannot treat our fellow Democrats in this manner.”

Brooks quickly shot out an email refusing to accept his dismissal, claiming that the chair does not have the authority to remove him from his position as chair or from the Council of Review.

“This letter is void ab initio!
The chair and members of the Council of Review do not serve at the pleasure of the state chair. The only two people who can be "fired" by the state chair are the treasurer and the executive director.”

Brooks’ email displays a basic lack of familiarity with and understanding of the NCDP Plan of Organization - the very document he is charged with upholding. He states that the chair and members of the Council of Review do not serve at the pleasure of the state chair, completely failing to acknowledge that the Council is comprised of both elected and appointed members.

The elected members are selected at District Conventions in even years. Appointed members serve at the pleasure of the chair and can be replaced at any time, for any reason.

From the Party Plan of Organization:


Members. The Council of Review shall consist of one (1) member from each congressional district who shall be elected at the congressional district conventions held in even-numbered years, and four (4) members at-large to be appointed by the state chair.

No person may be a member of the Council of Review who also serves as a chair of a county or district executive committee or as an elected or appointed officer of the state executive committee.

Officers. The state chair shall appoint a chair and a secretary of the Council of Review from among the members of the Council of Review.

Terms. Terms for members of the Council of Review shall begin upon the date of their election or appointment and end on the date in the next even numbered year set for district conventions or until their successors are elected or appointed. (Emphasis my own)

The terms of members as set forth in the PoO are very clear. Members serve until their term ends either on the date of the next election in even numbered years OR until their successors are elected or appointed.

Mr. Brooks’ replacement has been appointed. Attorney Ryan Butler, who has served the party as chair of the LGBT Caucus, has been appointed to the Council of Review by the state party chair, and he was subsequently appointed to serve as chair of the Council.

Former chair Randy Voller, who repeatedly violated the Plan of Organization, even making up and assigning himself powers not mentioned in the PoO, has weighed in, once again demonstrating he lacks a basic understanding of the document.

When I was elected in 2013, Mr. Wilson and I discussed my appointments. We had differing views on the council of review, which was further complicated by the redistricting that was done by the NCGA. The membership was clarified with the elections in 2014 at the district conventions. We agreed that the four appointments of the chair would term out at the end of May in 2016, which would align all terms with the Plan of Organization and District Conventions. (Emphasis my own)

Randy Voller did not have the power to decide terms for Council of Review members appointed by the state chair. That would require amending the Plan of Organization, which takes a vote of the State Executive Committee. The only Council members who have a defined term are those who are elected to the Council of Review – not those appointed by the state chair.

Brooks is not taking this sitting down. He has decided to hold a meeting at the Holiday Inn in Raleigh, putting at risk any members of the Council in attendance. Those choosing to act outside the party structure may find themselves dismissed based on section 9.04 in the PoO.


The state executive council shall have the right to remove from office any member of the Council of Review upon two-thirds (⅔) of the state executive council present and voting being satisfied that the Council of Review member has been disloyal to the Party, has refused or failed to perform his or her duties, or is guilty of any misconduct which is not in keeping with his or her high position of honor in the Democratic Party.

Setting the meeting at 9:00 on the Sunday that follows a Saturday packed with long conventions in many counties and being unwilling to change the meeting to a more reasonable date and time are bad enough, but Brooks has crossed the line and broken the rules in other ways.


The PoO requires that both parties to a grievance be offered the opportunity for mediation.

In 9.07 under Mediation:

Within ten (10) days after a grievance is received by the chair of the Council of Review, the chair of the Council of Review shall invite the Petitioner(s) and the Respondent(s) to participate in mediation by the executive director.

Brooks did not offer the Respondent the opportunity to participate in mediation and it is unclear whether he offered the Petitioner’s the opportunity based on the wording below. According to his email, it looks like he did not offer the parties the opportunity to mediate because the Executive Director, who would handle the mediation, has not yet been hired.

3. A hearing on this issue was scheduled for 9 a.m. this Sunday, April 12th, after the petitioners declined “mediation” since “mediation” was actually unavailable. A. The issue is a black and white issue – either the “notice” requirement was or it was not complied with. The requirement can not be compromised. Moreover, mediation in this instance would only be a delaying tactic since there is no one empowered at the present time to mediate. No one has been nominated by the State Chair to the Executive Council to be Executive Director of the State Party and so there is no one eligible to mediate under the rules set forth in the Plan of Organization.

The Petitioner and Respondent should not be penalized simply because an ED has not been hired, especially when interviews are taking place. Brooks was not entitled to void a provision in the Plan of Organization, regardless of the reason.


John Brooks made a unilateral decision to grant the Petitioner an extension of time to build a case even though it was in clear violation of the Plan of Organization.

From Section 9.03 Rules and Decisions:

Any grievances arising from such Party meetings or convention not brought to the attention of the chair of the Council of Review within the ten (10) days shall be deemed to have been waived, unless the Council of Review determines that the incident or event could not have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence within such period of time.

The lead Petitioner in this complaint was claiming that she did not receive proper notice of a meeting. She attended the meeting and nominated the woman who is the Respondent to serve out the rest of the term of the 3rd Congressional District Chair. The Petitioner’s nominee (now known as the Respondent) did not win, and the Petitioner apparently decided to file a complaint because she did not get a postcard notifying her of a meeting that she attended.

Then, even though hearsay evidence is not allowed in Council of Review hearings, Brooks gave the Petitioner extra time to gather inadmissible hearsay evidence. Finally, when the Petitioner failed to gather enough inadmissible hearsay evidence, John Brooks stepped way outside the boundaries of his role as chair and conducted an investigation, sending surveys into the district in an attempt to collect inadmissible hearsay evidence.

This issue of required notice is not one that can be waived. Either the requirements were met or they weren’t. Nevertheless a petition was filed and I requested that the petitioners attempt an expanded survey to determine whether or not it appeared that the “notice” requirement was met or whether there really was an issue that needed the Council’s attention. The petitioners attempted to do this but did not get enough feed-back to reach a useful conclusion. I gave them an extension of time to do this survey. When the attempted survey was inconclusive, I had them file their petition and I personally mailed out a survey to all 40 members of the 3rdDistrict Executive Committee. I have received 4 responses – two saying they received a notice and two saying that they did not. (emphasis my own)

Brooks’ interference was not only inappropriate, it was not welcomed by all recipients of his survey. David Cox commented on Facebook:

When I recently received a "survey" from Mr. Brooks concerning the most recent petition, I was surprised at his ex-parte investigation. Generally, in judicial proceedings, including quasi-judicial ones, it is impermissible for members of the body to consider "evidence" not presented at the hearing under rules of evidence and the usual protections. So when I received the survey attached to an undated letter from Mr. Brooks, I consulted the POO. I also read the petition. Of the four individuals listed as not receiving notice, one lives in the 7th CD, one was present at the 3rd CD meeting, a third informed the acting chair that she could not attend due to schedule conflict, and the fourth was mailed a notice.

Clearly, the Council of Review was in need of new leadership. Brooks showed repeatedly he lacked impartiality and from all appearances, he was using his role as chair to act out his own vendettas. NCDP Chair Patsy Keever did the right thing in removing Brooks before he could do further damage.



Glad to see Patsy in action

Brooks seem to be indulging in the kind of privileged crap that makes me sick. Good riddance.

Yes, he is

...and I heard that he stormed into Goodwin House and wasn't quiet in announcing his displeasure.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thank you, Betsy!

Betsy, thank you for exposing the garbage that continues to undermine our party and drives away those who expect fair and equal treatment. Sadly, the faction under the previous chair can't let anything go. Removing one of his old minions comes with a free-massive hissy fit included. It's time those folks are not re-elected into the SEC.

My pleasure!

Good luck with convention :)

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

John Brooks' use of a kangaroo court

needed to be exposed. Thank you, Betsy, for writing about this. There is another blogger who is twisting facts. I think it's because he really doesn't understand the Plan of Organization -- something Voller never bothered to understand either.

Nancy G. Rorie

This absolutely needed a bright light on it

I am aware of the other "blogger." Another Voller disciple who has either never read or unable to understand the Plan of Organization. He is always claiming that he has spent time talking to attorneys as if that will make us trust his blather.


Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Voller and the "blogger" are interpreting

the Plan of Organization as they would like it to be to suit their own set of circumstances. It's not going to work for them this time.

Nancy G. Rorie

Tripe and garbage

The presentation of this material is a total slander on John Brooks, who has worked for the Democratic Party for years. This is lynching party being conducted by Beth Ostgarrd and others. Patsy had someone drop an envelope at John's house with an undated letter, one which was unbalanced and unhinged, Next we luck few on the COR got an email from Ryan Butler declaring himself the new chair. The breaches of protocol and good order in this affair were legion, with Beth Ostgarrd and Buck Wilde fanning the flames and where no flames, setting fires. The Keever/Hunt/Marshall faction is desperate to kill a Sunday meeting of the COR, which I am on and I still believe to be chaired by John Brooks. Patsy put out no general announcement and her letter is undated - violations of protocol in any sense. What is up? This seems to be the Chris Hardee rescue effort, and we can expect Hardee to appeal the COR findings despite the lies he told under oath and the many evasions. I think that none of you have a clue about what you are talking, and being fed junk by folks best described as "Voller-Haters" who have indeed achieved new highs in the rancidity of their smouldering resentments.



Ahh...and now the sideshow begins

Hype, hyperbole, and misused words. It is expected of you, Bill, and has gone from highly entertaining to tiring in one paragraph.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

You have enemies? Good. That

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.

Winston Churchill

And Bill, I wouldn't fan the flames if I really wanted to get into this, I would use gas.

The important thing to remember here is ...

... to keep attacking and fighting your fellow Democrats. Everyone knows that registered Democrats greatly outnumber registered Republicans in this state. The only way to ensure that we keep the governor's seat and the legislature firmly in Republican hands is to keep up the infighting, the dissension, the name-calling, and the unprofessional behavior. Otherwise we might start winning elections again, and we can't have that. Air that dirty laundry, rah, rah!

Proud member of BlueNC for more than 9 years

So, Bill

Are you suggesting that we simply allow people who are hell bent on disrupting the party to run over us?

Nah... I think crap like this deserves as much sunlight as it can get. We don't fix problems by hiding them. We fix problems like this by exposing the ridiculous for all to see.

Also, BlueNC is not an arm of the Democratic Party. We have always written about the party and have often been critical. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Keever, Hunt, Marshall Democrat

Now Bill, I want to thank you, that is the nicest thing you have ever said to me, for that is just what I am.
I voted for Jim Hunt anytime he was on the ballot after I came of age, and would do so again.
As for Elaine Marshall, she taught school with my dad years ago, and we are long time supporters.
And I have only had 2 chances to vote for Patsy Keever, but I sure hope that I can do so again.
Thanks for pointing all that out.

My only question is why would you, Bill, not want to support these fine North Carolina democrats?

For damned good reasons

I have see far too many shenanigans in the NCDP and its players to be a true believer, like you apparently are. I would not join the Democrats until 2000 because too many of the older folks were Dixiecrats and racists. Bush II convinced me to get active. As for the older "faction", where we are now, in a hole, is a result of those folks. I do not see an excellent or even adequate bench. I see migration to Unaffiliated at high rates. I have watched the use of both elected and appointed positions for personal advantage far too frequently.

I also know, from being a long time manager and leader that an organization which does not allow its people to criticize wind up covering up things and abusing power. Back when money did not matter all that much, these things tended to be ignored. Now the inmates are scrapping internally for the change in the couch, like Elaine Marshall's attempt to railroad Parker in 2012 as she wanted the final tax check off funds, rather than sending it to the counties. And they were going to put Don Vaughn of Greensboro, an ALEC member in as chair. Some of us challenged this and Parker remained, but was hobbled by these people and the DNC. In all that I met a lot of Young Dems who were on the make and did not care one iota who they trampled, and they did. So perhaps you might understand, well I doubt you will, my dislike of some folks who have done shady things inside the party, as well as out.

And the conduct of Nina Szlosberg and Jim Hunt in operating for over a year and a half to deny NCDP money for operations was frankly traitorous. They were lining their nests at the expense of Democrats in counties and candidiates. I was amazed at the extent of their planned vengeance when Kay Hagan took her campaign to Wake County vice NCDP, to deprive NCDP of money from that operation. She had lots of help from DNC on that one, and the DSCC. And, ask Jim Hunt why he contributed a thousand dollars to Republican legislator Justin Burr, which went to a Republican in Hunts home area near Wilson.

So worship whom you want, Drink the Kool Aid and wake up one morning and find these not nice people have relieved you of your head and office. And, tell me why Hunt did not fully pardon the Wilmington 10. You can find something on it in Gary Pearce's book on Hunt. People like Pearce took the lead in getting stuff about Voller in the press and generating fear and doubt about the Party. They are pulling the same thing on John Brooks, a good man and a competent lawyer who has dedicated more time to the NCDP than you likely have on earth. The groupies who join these piranha in blueNC and in other venues in attacking Brooks, and Voller, do us no service, rather they are traitors to the supposed cause, seeking only their own influence and power. And that is the way I see it after six years working for Democrats, some of whom will as soon stab you as look at you.



I am not sure how you can reconcile this line ...

... "my dislike of some folks who have done shady things inside the party" with your later defense of Voller. He and "shady" were very close there for a while.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

What absolute made up BS!


I'm sorry, but most of this is just completely made up BS. I hate to bring this up, but; Fact: Either David Parker is a liar or Sallie Leslie is, and I will side with Sallie every time. He either covered up sexual harassment, or exhibited the worst political mal-practice in the history of the party. As well, Elaine Marshall had no designs on checkoff money in 2012. That is just made up conspiracy theory BS to further a stupid war on electeds. But really who cares? That is a fight long gone and not worth rehashing.

Thank you for your service to our nation, but when it comes to this made up narrative about Jim Hunt being a detriment to the Party, let's just say when it comes to actually contributing to the values we hold dear in State Government, you couldn't drink the Kool Aid from his jock strap.

As to John Brooks, he is a good man, but 'competent lawyer' is not an adjective that has been ascribed to him for some time.

Frankly, I prefer to ignore this, but you sir should hold up a mirror, because most of the stones you are throwing would bust right through it.

The N&O has a different view.

“There is an attempt to usurp the authority of the Council of Review by the new chair of the party, but it is not in keeping with the requirements” of the party’s by-laws, Brooks said.

Brooks points to a provision in the bylaws – known as the party’s Plan of Organization– that requires a vote by the state executive council to remove members of the Council of Review. The executive council includes dozens of party leaders.

The bylaws say removal is only possible when a council member is “disloyal to the party, has refused or failed to perform his or her duties, or is guilty of any misconduct.” Brooks’ term doesn’t expire until 2016.

That isn't the N&O's view...

That is a John Brook's quote. Please, Virginia, tell me you know the difference between a news-style story and an editorial.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

OK, the N&O printed a different view.

And it is not entirely a John Brooks' quote, it is part of a story written by Colin Campbell for 'Under the Dome'.

Now, read the whole article, please? It presents a much different point of view from yours, presented here.

I read the entire thing Virginia

Colin quotes Brooks and paraphrases him. Colin did little to no research beyond what Brooks told him. I think John Brooks has teetered off the deep end and is interpreting the Plan of Organization in a way that serves only John Brooks.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It's under the "News" section

It's under the "News" section of the paper, not the "Opinion" section. Why do you think it's an editorial?

Proud member of BlueNC for more than 9 years

Story was fed to NO and the reporter called Brooks

First, I strongly suspect John Burns, who has demonstrated unbridled hatred towards John Brooks contacted Colin Campbell, the reporter. Campbell then called Brooks. It is apparent they did not believe him. Burns represented Chris Hardee to the Council of Review in January, and Hardee lied under oath to the COR. This is a major tactic of the Anti-Voller League over the past two and a half years. After talking with John Brooks, I seriously doubt Campbell listened to him as he attempted to cover a complex story with meaning to no one but a small group.



i did no such thing

This is just sad.

Education, Transit, Sustainable Economic Growth

I would love to thank Mr.

I would love to thank Mr. Franklin for placing me in the company of my most favorite people. Why he would summon me in this thread is indeed obscure, however, I will take any relationship to some of the finest Democrats in this state's history. Bless you, Bill.

knows sign language

I do find it quite humorous

that they demonize some of the most respected people not only in our party, but in our state.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

For the good of the party

Anyone notice the pink elephant in the room here? John Brooks, appointed under former NCDP chair Randy Voller, now refuses to accept his appointment has ended and has been replaced by the current NCDP Chair Patsy Keever. Brooks' callous treatment of the female Respondent (who had a heart attack and surgery) requesting a legitimate delay shows Brooks' abuse of power. Brooks needs to go quietly for his own sake and for the good of the party.

The Plan of Organization

The Plan of Organization, § 9.04, Removal of Members, gives the state chair exactly zero authority to remove a member before his term expires. A member can be removed by the State Executive Committee. This is not a difficult provision to understand.

Since Ms. Keever has no authority to remove Mr. Brooks, he's still the chair of the Council of Review.

Proud member of BlueNC for more than 9 years

Wrong Bill

Brooks is an appointee and he serves until his replacement is appointed. Appointees do not have a specified term of service like elected members do. Brooks' term ended when Ryan Butler was appointed.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Wrong provision

See above Mr. Bryan. You are attempting to apply the incorrect provision of the PoO. Section 9.02 applies to Council of Review members. Specifically the last few words under the paragraph entitled "Term"..."OR until their successors are elected or appointed".

Beth you are in good company!

Silence is Betrayal

Utter nonsense. The Plan of

Utter nonsense. The Plan of Organization states in plain language the titles of officers who serve "at the pleasure of the state chair". Those include:


  • Treasurer
  • 3 sustaining fund co-chairs
  • Chair for minority affairs
  • State advisor for Teen Dems


  • Executive director

So the Party, in drafting the Plan, knew exactly how to state whether the state chair could remove a member of the Council of Review. Maybe you should consider making a motion to amend the Plan at the next meeting of the State Executive Committee to state that the appointed members of the Council of Review serve "at the pleasure of the state chair".

Until then, there's only two possible ways a member of the Council of Review's term can end: His/her term expires, or s/he is removed by the State Executive Committee.

When there's a section of the Plan specifically titled "Removal of Members" of the Council of Review, you can't just wave your magic wand and say "Oh, that's the wrong section when the state chair decides to act as an autocrat." It doesn't work that way, as you will see in the foreseeable future.

Proud member of BlueNC for more than 9 years

You are absolutely right.

Having served on the Council of Review and working with the Plan for many years, the Plan of Organization does not give the state chair the power to remove a member of the council of review. Nor does it allow the chair to appoint someone to the COR with a term of a fixed length.

However, it does give the chair the power to appoint 4 people at-large to the Council of Review. When the chair makes the appointment, per the Plan of Organization, it marks the end of the term of the previous office holder since there are no set terms in the Plan for at-large office holders. Patsy Keever did not remove John Brooks; rather, she took an action wholly within her power that had the effect of ending John Brooks's term in office.

In many other governing documents, the term "until appointed and qualified" is used, "qualified" being a term of art that typically means a formal swearing-in; however, there is no such ambiguity in the Plan - the former member's term expires at the moment of appointment.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

John Brooks is still chairman of the CoR.

Betsy Muse has her opinion, but it is not universal by any means. John Brooks disagrees, for one.

The argument put forth by Muse of PoO Section 9.02 on length of terms (that an election or appointment can replace a member) rests on an interpretation of the word “or”. This may not mean a new appointment is all that is required to boost a sitting appointment. It may instead mean an appointment can only fill a vacancy, not create one.

Betsy Muse’s interpretation could lead to unfettered house cleaning after the election of a new NCDP chair, to remove CoR members who render fair judgement against cronies of the new chair, and remove the necessary independence of the CoR during the first year of a new chair’s term, along with needed transition.

This seems disruptive at best. It invites corruption. This is certainly suggested, given the timing of the change, just before the CoR is to meet to review Chris Hardee’s alleged perjury before John Brooks’ CoR Board last January when he was removed from the Chairmanship of CD 3 (because he does not reside there), and further questions about the 3 CD executive meeting that “re-elected” him a the District 3 Chair in February. John Brooks wants to address the alleged perjury committed by Chris Hardy in the last CoR meeting.

Was Hardee’s support for Keever part of a quid pro quo now taking place by removing John Brooks?

The balance that was struck in 2013 and 2014 seems fair and wise. The PoO allows the chair (Patsy Keever), to select a chair of the Council of Review and its Secretary. (See page 31, section 9.02 of the PoO) The council is composed of 17 members with 13 of the members elected at their respective district convention in the even numbered years and the remaining 4 members comprised of appointments from the state chair. John Brooks, chair, Barbara Hughes, secretary, Delmas Parker, and Willie Fleming currently occupy seats that were appointed or reappointed by former Chairman Randolph Voller in 2013 and 2014. The balance that was struck dealt with the gray areas in the PoO that were a source of discussion in 2013. In a nutshell, all of the terms run through May of 2016. At that point the 13 members representing their districts will either be re-elected or their seats will be filled by new members from the district. The 4 at-large appointments will either be re-appointed by the State Chair or new members will fill those seats, thus allowing the State Chair to make appointments to the COR that insulate it from petty political machinations. The balance in favor of the State Chair is the ability to select the COR’s chair and secretary at anytime from its membership. And of course if there is cause to remove a member in the interim the State Chair can pursue removal by a ⅔ vote of the executive council.

Exactly Right!

Thank you Mr.Queen for explaining it much more clearly and thoroughly than I did. I completely concur. Ryan Butler was appointed to an at large seat on the CoR and in turn was also appointed Chair of the CoR thus ending the at large ''APPOINTED" seat held by John Brooks. End of story. Let's move on. Thanks again.

Silence is Betrayal

Not right at all.

Keever's people are circling the wagons. The pot is calling the kettle black. And without the full story you are impugning the good name of John Brooks. From what I understand a complaint was filed by members of Mr. Hardee's district twice. Mr. Hardee was found to have lied to the council of review while under oath and by a vote of 8 to 4 with one abstention found to have not resided in his district. His attorney, Mr. John Burns, who is currently a county commissioner in Wake County, communicated with members of the council of review via text messaging during its deliberations and came back to the Goodwin House on January 24th, insisted on re-arguing his case before the closed executive session and attempted to intimidate Mr. Brooks and other members of the COR after the meeting ended. The behavior and motivations of Ms. Keever, Mr. Burns, Mr. Hardee, and a few partisan members of the COR are the real story not Mr. Brooks, who is just trying to do his job.


Ms. Penley is not on the Council of Review and was not present at the last meeting. She simply doesn't know whereof she speaks.

knows sign language

I was at Goodwin House.

John Burns had his temper tantrum in public, in the hallway. He threatened Mr. Brooks before witnesses. I sat through the whole proceedings. The deliberations were private, but minutes exist. I know exactly what happened, including a statement about how every one lies.

I have pictures I took.

I tried to post a shot of you, Beth, and Hardee, on Dem Eomen's Facebook page, under where you tried to say I was not there, but I was.

Ms. Ostgaard, I am sorry your memory is so poor. I attended the Council of Review meeting on January 24, 2015. Here are some pictures from the meeting.

I believe everyone is empathetic of the health problems of Ms. Leech and wish her a speedy and full recovery. That said, I understand that the agenda for the council of review meeting has three items including a timely petition regarding Halifax County and a review of Mr. Hardee's perjury before Council in January. The Council could table the complaint involving Ms. Leech and still handle the other business. Why was that a problem?