North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has accused the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce of blocking the appointment of black candidates to judicial and quasi-judicial boards, despite the Chamber having no official power to approve or reject nominations. Cooper claims that since 2017, the legislature has confirmed only 13 out of 33, or 39% of black nominees to these boards, compared to 60% of white nominees. The Chamber has rebuffed these accusations, providing explanations for the nominees that were not approved and stating that it works “without regard to identity”.
Gov. Roy Cooper Accuses North Carolina Chamber of Commerce of Blocking Black Nominees
Raleigh, NC – Governor Roy Cooper has confronted the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, alleging the organization opposes Black judicial nominees. The dispute grew over the weekend when the Governor, a Democrat, sent a letter to the chamber accusing it of leveraging its political power to hinder Black appointees to multiple judicial and quasi-judicial boards.
In his letter, Cooper expressed his belief that an organization meant to support the state’s economy and businesses should strongly champion the swift confirmation of qualified Black nominees for leadership positions. The chamber firmly denied Governor Cooper’s allegations in a response letter sent Sunday.
The chamber’s president, Gary Salamido, signed the response letter and stressed the chamber’s nonpartisan commitment to enhancing the future of North Carolina’s business community. He expressed disappointment over being unjustly accused of racism by the state’s chief executive.
Exchange of Accusations Between Cooper and Chamber
Despite the chamber’s lack of official power to approve or reject nominations, Cooper emphasized the group’s impact on the General Assembly, which votes to confirm his appointees. The Governor claimed that the legislature has confirmed only 39% of Black nominees to these boards since 2017, compared to 60% of white nominees.
Cooper highlighted the rejection of six consecutive Black nominees to the Board of Review in 2021 and 2022. He lamented the lack of clear reasons for these rejections from General Assembly members or the chamber.
In contrast, Salamido stated that the appointee who was eventually selected for the board was Black, making two out of three of the board’s current members Black. He also cited reasons for the rejections of the six nominees Cooper mentioned, including their intention to maintain active law practices if appointed.
Cooper also pointed out that the Business Court, which adjudicates corporate and commercial law cases, has only white judges and that the General Assembly did not consider confirming two consecutive Black women he nominated.
In response, Salamido admitted to opposing the nomination of Tenisha Jacobs, a Black woman, in 2022. However, he praised Cooper’s current nominee, Jocelyn Mitnaul Mallette, as “extraordinarily impressive” and suggested that her nomination could have succeeded with more constructive engagement from the Governor.
Upcoming Governor’s Race
Salamido mentioned that Cooper has not backed former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan’s run for governor, endorsing Attorney General Josh Stein instead. In a separate letter sent to the chamber on Monday, Cooper did not address Salamido’s comments about Morgan but emphasized the low percentage of Black nominees confirmed by the legislature.