State Elections Board picks new director

from @NCCapitol on WRAL.com:

Kim Westbrook Strach, a longtime investigator with the State Board of Elections, will take over as the board's director on May 15.

Strach replaces Gary Bartlett, who has served as the state's top elections professional for nearly 20 years.

The board made the move at a meeting Wednesday morning after five new members appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory last week took their oaths of office...

[Democrats] Malcolm and Kricker objected to appointed Strach, not because she was unqualified, but because they had not had a chance to meet her or review the qualifications of other potential candidates.

"I am concerned about this rush to bring forward a new director without our actually meeting the potential candidates," Kricker said.

Both Kricker and Malcolm advocated for keeping Bartlett on staff until June so that the board would have more time to review replacements.

"She (Strach) seems like a very capable, competent person," Malcolm said, adding that the quick appointment, "is doing a disservice to this board, and I think it's doing a disservice to her quite frankly."

Board Republicans said they were confident in Strach's qualifications and saw no reason to wait.

Comments

Strach

What a relief. We now have a well-ridden partisan hack on the job to oversee the integrity of our elections.

Gotta love it.

Wow ...

The new director of the state board of elections is married to the legal counsel for the NC GOP.

Gee. Next thing you know they'll appoint some billionaire that bought and paid a bunch of Republican candidates in the elections and is trying to pass laws to favor the business interests of him and his cronies in charge of the state's finances.

Oh ... wait ... they already did that ....

You don't know what you're talking about

Kim Strach is not, nor has she ever been a "partisan hack," not in any sense of the word. You don't know her, but I do. I'm pretty partisan in my politics, and am as angry and sad about what is happening to the state under the Republicans as any other Democrat, progressive, liberal etc . . . But in terms of her integrity, I would rate Kim Strach right up there with Joe Hackney. And that's saying something.

As for you, *teddy,* to base your assessment of her work and her ethic based upon her marriage is so seventy-something years ago. She isn't her husband. She isn't even a Republican. What she is, however, is smart, capable, and honest. There are very few people in state government or related political spheres of whom I could say that with as great a certainty as I say it of her.

I assure you that had it been up to Larry Leake, the investigations into Black, Phipps, Easley and Perdue would have been dropped before they were started. If the Republican dominated board think she's going to tailor her investigations to their tastes, they're in for a big surprise.

All I know is what I read

and what I have read over the years about Ms. Strach makes me doubt her ability to separate family loyalties from the work of democracy. I would love to be proven wrong, and I suspect we'll find out pretty darn quickly.

I don't know you and the fact that you know Strach is a degree of separation too far to be helpful. It reminds me of someone who recently said she knew Pat Hurley personally, and judged the representative to be a woman of integrity ... just as you believe Strach to be. I hope your judgement is more reliable, because Hurley turns out to be little more than a useful tool.

For better or worse, people are judged by the company they keep. In my view from the nickel seats, there could not be a more damning statement about Strach than the very fact that she has been anointed for this role.

What you've read?

WHERE? Blogs? What have you by way of evidence? To say you've "read" something tells me nothing about why you feel so certain that you would call her a "partisan hack." I suspect that if you talked to any Democrats who have actually worked with her, you'd be surprised. Ask Bob Hall if he thinks she's a "partisan hack." Ask Colon Willoughby what he thinks of her work.

Why would you doubt her ability to separate "family loyalties" from her work? Are you familiar with her work? Do you think she manufactured evidence? You have absolutely nothing but an assumption.

The idea that a woman must be judged by her husband's party affiliation is too silly to substitute as a valid argument.

I'm not worried about whether she will do her job. I'm more concerned that once the Republican leadership finds out that she is going to do her job regardless of the politics, they'll seek to get rid of her.

We'll see.

I hope you're right ... and as I noted, I would love to be proven wrong.

I am not an insider. I don't know you or Colon Willoughby or Bob Hall, or any other Democrats who may or may not have worked with Strach. And I don't really want to know them.

My view of all this is the view of a regular person who's paying attention as best he can, without connections, friends in high places, or anything even remotely resembling personal knowledge. I prefer that view because I believe it is closer to what most North Carolinians know and think.

What "most" think?

I think that absent evidence, instead of supposition, it's unfair to label her as you have. You have no evidence, and you've cited none. What you've cited is prejudice and you're seeking to pretty it up by suggesting that lack of actual knowledge of her work, work process, or personality deserves validity because it is closer to "what most North Carolinians know and think."

You have no idea "what most North Carolinians know and think" or whether what "most' think is valid. It's certainly not an argument for endorsing the value of a given view that "most" do or don't hold it.

I have to take issue with your claiming to be "a regular person." You're not "regular" if regular means the average bear who reads the headlines but doesn't actually follow politics. You do follow politics, as do I, and unlike "regular folks," you and I both care a great deal. Nor are you "regular" if regular means the average person whose involvement is limited to office gossip, bar conversations, maybe the nightly news and maybe a morning paper. "Regular" folks don't hold fundraisers. You probably *do* know Democrats who have worked with her and don't realize it. Maybe, maybe not. But you ain't "regular," James.

As you said more recently, "we'll see." I think that's what you should have started with.

Okay. Maybe not all that regular.

But definitely outside the inner circle ... and by a very wide margin.

This business about Strach is one we fundamentally disagree on, and have for a very long time. You defended her back in 2010, claiming personal knowledge of her integrity. I, on the other hand, had nothing to work with but news stories, reflecting views very different from yours on the part of other people I don't know.

In this instance, the only difference between me and "regular people" is the fact that you hounded me into hiding, whereas regular people don't seem to suffer such attention.

Let's leave it at, "we'll see." In the meantime, I'm betting McCrory-gate gets swept under the rug.

And yet you've still cited no evidence

News stories have not reflected "views." NEWS stories don't reflect "VIEWS" unless your idea of news is FOX. News stories report facts.

No news stories that I have read produced/revealed/cited any "facts" that justify your labeling Kim Strach as a "partisan hack." If you can produce these "news stories," please do. (I know that you know the difference between a blog and a news story.)

Again, what, besides the fact of her being married to a Republican partisan, says that she is in lock-step with a GOP agenda? What? Have you nothing? You're sure as hell not referring to anything that suggests that what she found in her investigations was untrue. That would be meaningful. But it's not there.

I don't know how to respond to your saying that I hounded you into hiding because I have no idea what that means. Please elaborate. I truly do not know what you mean by that. I'd be ready to answer it if only I knew what on earth you meant.

The problem I have with your maligning Kim is two-fold. First, it's fundamentally unfair, because you've produce absolutely nothing to justify it. Secondly, it suggests weakness on the part of Democrats/Progressives, because it appears to rely upon nothing but emotional, visceral dismay that she put Democrats who broke the law in jail. That's not a strong selling point for the Democrats or Progressives. You want to go after people who abuse power, not people who expose abuses of power.

I think you and I have this much in common, James, which is that we are both idealistic. The difference here is that I feel confident in a fair fight when the argument is about Kim Strach's execution of her responsibilities.

Again, if you can cite news stories that report facts about her execution of her responsibilities that reveal a bias, I'm interested in seeing them. As a Democrat who cares deeply about her party's vision and future, I want to move forward on high ground. To denounce Kim Strach on the basis of her husband's party is cheap, and will never advance our interests in a meaningful or lasting way. I want too much to win to proceed on such a shoddy basis.

i provided links

Follow a few of them to the N&O. They may not qualify as news stories to you but most regular people would consider them as such.

You provided "links." Seriously?

You didn't utter specifics; you made some generalities, and you cite LINKS? You can't make an argument, so you provide LINKS without saying what within those stories support your maligning Ms. Strach?

What, specifically, in these news stories established evidence of wrongdoing or partisanship by Kim Strach?

tsk tsk tsk

If you had an argument, James, you'd make it, not tell me to go read a link and infer what point you think you have.
So far, you've got zip.

You're trying very hard to defend maligning someone against whom you have no evidence of wrongdoing at all. In doing so, you're discrediting yourself, not Kim.

It may or may not reflect

It may or may not reflect wrongdoing and it has nothing to do with following her husbands beliefs. What it does raise is questions about an appearance of impropriety at best and more likely the potential for conflicts of interest. Her husband as legal counsel for the GOP most certainly assisted in drafting election complaints that went to the State Board where she in turn was in charge of investigating the complaints. And it is interesting to note that all of her investigations focused on high profile democrats. Do any of us really believe that in her 13 year tenure no republicans committed any campaign finance violations?

And her husband continues to be involved in election matters as legal counsel for republican candidates and that is something that must be watched closely!!!

I for one am grateful to James and blue nc for keeping us informed!!!!!

Kim Strach

Again, the idea that because she is married to Phil Strach, she has to end her own already well established career is ridiculous. Phil Strach resigned his position within the GOP. Why should she have to quit her job? Because she's irrevocably tainted by marriage? That's absurd. The days when husband and wife were one and he was the ONE are long past, thankfully. And no, as a matter of fact, Phil Strach had ZERO role in drafting election complaints that went to the State Board with his wife in charge of investigating. None. You can assume a lot, and apparently have, but you don't have the facts on your side. Of course, what would be really helpful to the argument that Phil Strach "corrupted" his wife would be to discover a problem with her findings. Did she manufacture evidence? I'm not hearing anyone say there's a shred of evidence that she did anything wrong.

As for the investigations on high profile Democrats, given the fact that the Democrats held power for decades (with minor interruptions in the Governor's office), with control over the State Board of Elections, it really isn't that odd that high profile Democrats got cocky and corrupt. Because that's what we're talking about -- corruption -- not campaign finance violations. What they didn't count on at the State Board of Elections when they hired her, was that Kim wasn't going to be swayed by politics. She's petite and pretty, and I strongly suspect that they figured she was just a dumb little doll who could be easily directed away from any stench emerging from campaign finance disclosures of the favored party. They didn't realize that she was as astute as she is, and they certainly didn't count on her resisting the considerable pressure placed upon her to back off.

Both Democrats and Republicans are routinely held accountable for campaign finance violations. It takes more than merely making a few mistakes on a campaign finance report to get yourself hauled into court. Neither Colon Willoughby, nor the SBI nor the FBI take action for mere "violations," so don't try to soft-pedal the reasons Meg Scot Phipps, Jim Black, Thomas Wright and Mike Easley got in trouble.

As Carter Wrenn recently predicted, the same phenomenon -- the corruption of absolute power -- is likely to happen within the Republican ranks. They're already demonstrating themselves to be pretty cocky and the kinds of laws they're passing suggest that they're already drunk with power.

No, I'm not Kim Strach

She wouldn't be caught dead following this blog. The woman doesn't even do Facebook, fer cryin' out loud.