Attorney Jennifer Gray was given the newly-created position of associate general counsel of the North Carolina Dept. of Insurance (DOI) on March 6, 2017. A month later, at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase, she was photographed standing next to powerful House Speaker Tim Moore. According to two sources, Speaker Moore and Ms. Gray are engaged to be married.
Though North Carolina has clear hiring procedures, Jennifer Gray landed the $89,000 a-year post even though no other applicants were interviewed – or even considered – for the job, according to the DOI’s Marla Sink.
This raises two possibilities, both of which present problems for the DOI and, possibly, Speaker Tim Moore himself. The DOI itself has given conflicting accounts to Checks and Balances Project.
#1: Ms. Gray’s Hiring Was a Violation
According to a document provided by the DOI, the job the Speaker’s girlfriend was given should have been governed by North Carolina’s Policy for Selecting Employees. That would mean state hiring requirements were ignored when the high-paying job was given to a woman romantically linked to the powerful Speaker of the House.
This document, provided by the DOI, is from the North Carolina State Government’s internal Human Resource Information System known as “Beacon.” It clearly indicates that Jennifer Gray started hire date was March 6, 2017, and her “current position” number is 65026433. (Click here to see the entire document.)
North Carolina’s Policy for Selecting Employees includes these requirements:
- “Employment shall be offered based upon the job-related qualifications of applicants for employment using fair and valid selection criteria and not on political affiliation or political influence.” [Emphasis added.]
- “Political influence occurs when political affiliation impacts the decision to hire or not to hire and the selection decision was not based on fair and valid selection criteria.”
- “The individual selected for the position must be chosen from the pool of the most qualified applicants.”
If a violation occurred, according to the Office of State Human Resources, the state enforcement agencies responsible for investigations and sanctions equal opportunity employment violations are the State Courts, State Human Resources Commission, and/or Office of Administrative Hearings.
#2 Gray Got a Political Patronage Job That Could Ignore State Hiring Policy
A second possibility — stated in documents and emails provided to C&BP by the DOI — is that Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey hired Ms. Gray into a vacant, existing “policy-making exempt position” — job #60013309. Policy-making exempt is a category of state jobs that can be filled without hiring state hiring procedures – essentially a political patronage job.
C&BP repeatedly asked for an explanation of why the internal Beacon document clearly states Ms. Gray’s “current position” is job #65026433 – not job #60013309, the policy-making exempt position.
But no one would fully answer that question. Instead, they keep repeating the same answer, despite the fact that the documents conflict:
We Requested Emails but Received None
In our July 12, 2018, records request to DOI’s Marla Sink, we asked for “all communications with applicants regarding the position. After receiving some records, but no emails, we contacted Ms. Sink who said she just needed to have them pulled. A week later, she emailed back to say that there were none. (See the records request here.)
Does Either Explanation Matter?
These conflicting accounts raise questions:
- When did the relationship between Speaker Tim Moore and Ms. Gray begin?
- Why does DOI refuse to respond to the question of different job numbers.
- Why are there no emails at all, even any arranging an interview, notification of a start date, etc.
- Did a violation of state hiring policy take place?
Jennifer Gray has relevant previous legal background as an Assistant District Attorney in the Wake County District Attorney’s Office. But there are many previous assistant district attorneys.
Only one is Speaker Tim Moore’s girlfriend.
Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and other donors.
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