Gov. Cooper Relies on Left-Wing Activists

Gov. Cooper Relies on Left-Wing Activists

(the article first appeared on

More than 50 of Governor Roy Cooper’s appointments are either employed by or are board members of North Carolina progressive non-profits found in the online database Mapping the Left (MTL). MTL is a user-friendly online database/web page that identifies the vast network of left-wing groups and activists in North Carolina, sponsored by the Civitas Institute.

MTL has identified many of Gov. Cooper’s appointments to state boards and commissions as progressive/left-wing activists.

When we introduced the website in January 2015, we knew that it would be an ongoing project.

Mapping the Left will never be a finished work. The people and the groups of the Left flow from one position to another. Groups come and go. Alliances shift and reform. We continue to add data and welcome your input to help us make our database as accurate as possible.

To say we were right about the work never being finished is an understatement. When the project was announced just over three years ago, we reported 140 groups, approximately 1,800 activists and seven networks in the debut project. As of today, we have mapped 200 groups, nearly 3,500 individual activists and 13 networks.

Politics and Money

From the start, many of Gov. Cooper’s appointments to boards, commissions and his governmental office have been controversial. On December 7, 2016, a month after the election, Cooper announced the appointment of Ken Eudy as his senior advisor.

Eudy was a controversial choice for Cooper on many levels. Just before the 2016 Election, Eudy penned an article where he admitted that he did not stand for our military.

I do stand for the Star-Spangled Banner. But I stay in my seat when thousands of fans stand and cheer men and women in the armed services. My silent protest draws some certain looks or sideways sneers.

Eudy has known Gov. Cooper for many years. He too was active in the North Carolina Democratic Party and served as the executive director of the organization in the 1980s.

Eudy was also co-founder of Capstrat, a Raleigh public relations and consulting firm that made millions from lucrative state contracts. Eudy sold Capstrat to Ketchum, a firm used by Russia for public relations contracts, in 2013 for an undisclosed sum.

Eudy and Capstrat also have ties to Roy Cooper through a nearly $500,000, contract with NC GreenPower, a group that won one of the first grants awarded through Smithfield Environment Fund grants. The Smithfield grants are the result of an agreement former Attorney General Mike Easley made with Smithfield Foods in 2000 that required the pork production company to pay more than $50 million to fund annual “environmental enhancement grants”. That same year, 2000, Easley was elected governor and Cooper was elected attorney general.

Cooper continued to oversee the Smithfield grant program, handing out millions of dollars in grants to environmental groups until he was elected governor in 2016.

Some think that the Smithfield environmental fund is very similar to the $58 million pipeline fund agreement that Gov. Cooper “negotiated” recently.


Another Cooper appointee who has MTL connections and is also connected to the Smithfield environmental grant funds is Heather Jacobs Deck. Deck was appointed to the Sedimentation Control Commission which was created to;

administer the state’s Sedimentation Control Program pursuant to the N.C. Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973. The commission is charged with adopting rules, setting standards and providing guidance for implementation of the law.

Deck is also the deputy director of the MTL group Sound Rivers. Sound Rivers, an environmental advocacy organization, received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from the Smithfield fund. Deck frequently communicated directly with the AG’s office concerning the group’s grant.

In addition to Deck, Hartwell Carson was also appointed to the North Carolina Sedimentation Control Commission. Carson is a member of the MTL group Waterkeepers Carolina. Both Waterkeepers Carolina and Sound Rivers are members of the North Carolina Environmental Partnership (NCEP). NCEP spent $1.6 million on TV ads opposing Gov. Pat McCrory, the incumbent candidate and Roy Cooper’s opponent in the 2016 gubernatorial election.


In a state ranked 49th, among 50 states, in number of employees who are either members or represented by unions, Cooper has appointed at least two labor union bosses to work-related commissions.

Marybe McMillan is president of North Carolina branch of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which represents more than 120,000 union workers in the state. McMillan was appointed to the NC Works Commission. According to its website:

The NC Works Commission recommends policies and strategies that enable the state’s workforce and businesses to compete in the global economy.

Vernon Gammon, Secretary-Treasurer of North Carolina Teamsters Union 391, was appointed to the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees.

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

Other appointments made by Cooper, since taking office, include board members of some of the most progressive and leftist groups in the state. His appointments even have connections with the most influential organizations on the Left in North Carolina, including the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR). ZSR is the progressive left’s cornerstone in the state and is the biggest funder of left-wing causes. Cooper’s ZSR appointments include:

Noah Reynolds, treasurer of the ZSR Board of Trustees, was appointed to the Historical Commission.

Leslie Winner, former executive director for ZSR, was appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound, Basic Education.

Jose Oliva, a ZSR fellow, was appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs.

Cooper has also looked to the NC Justice Center, North Carolina’s largest progressive policy organization, to add to his boards and commissions. The NC Justice Center was picked by ZSR to be the “administrative home” for Blueprint NC. Blueprint NC, the hub of left-wing activity in North Carolina, gained notoriety with their 2013 strategy memo that directed their members to “eviscerate, mitigate, litigate, cogitate and agitate” the state’s Republican leadership.

The list of Gov. Cooper’s controversial appointments goes on and on and there is only one place that vets the background of the governor’s appointments and identifies linkages with leftist organizations in North Carolina.  Mapping the Left was created to educate citizens and policy makers about the significant extent of the left’s political infrastructure in North Carolina. MTL is a repository of vital information that exposes to public scrutiny the left’s networks, its largest funders and linkages to participants in today’s North Carolina political battles.