NC House Speaker Thom Tillis has dipped into taxpayers wallets to provide $19,333 in going away gifts for two disgraced staffers, who resigned because of affairs with lobbyists. The News and Observer reports
State House Speaker Thom Tillis authorized payments equal to a month’s salary for two high-level staffers after they resigned because of inappropriate relationships with lobbyists.
The payments total a combined $19,333 to Tillis’ former chief of staff and his former policy adviser. Tillis said Wednesday the payments were made to help each staffer after they were no longer working for the state.
Tillis’ office also offered a justification for the payments that is an entry from the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, which in turn cites an employment law from the United Kingdom. The U.K. law, passed in 1996, says that workers are owed “pay in lieu of notice” if an employee is terminated without being given a minimum notice of one week.
Under North Carolina law and rules, however, high-ranking legislative employees are exempt from state personnel laws and generally work “at will,” meaning they can be dismissed for no reason and without severance.
Rep. Tillis' concern for the unemployed is touching, a concern that stretches far enough to adopt English employment protections even though we're no longer a colony and not subject to those laws.
However, that concern was absent last winter when Rep. Tillis and the Republican leadership allowed federally-funded unemployment benefits for 47,000 long-term jobless North Carolinians to lapse. He subsequently criticized Gov. Perdue when she restored those benefits through an executive order.
Similarly back in February, Rep. Tillis appointed a task force to examine unemployment insurance fraud. Maybe the task force should start by looking at Rep. Tillis' office.
Meanwhile, Rep. Tillis uses taxpayers' money to take care of his own, and the rest of us are left to muse over how a champion of the Tea Party gets away with citing English rather than American laws.