This story originally appeared in the the North Carolina Tribune, a paid newsletter affiliated with Business North Carolina.
Former Rep. Leo Daughtry’s sudden departure from the UNC Board of Governors left some wondering if he was forced off the board. He said this week that he wasn’t asked to resign, but alluded to the recent controversies he’d spoken out about.
“I believe I had done about all I could do on the Board of Governors, my influence had waned,” the longtime Johnston County legislator says.
House leaders offered him the opportunity to join the Board of Transportation, with a term beginning at the end of the month. He’ll join several other former GOP lawmakers there: former Rep. Chuck McGrady and former Sens. Andy Wells and Jerry Tillman. Asked if he had any particular goals for transportation, he said “not yet – roads in the east obviously.”
Daughtry’s exit from the UNC board comes after he strongly criticized the UNC System Office’s move from Chapel Hill to Raleigh — something that was mandated by legislative leaders without much discussion at the board level.
The $250 million plan also calls for new office space for the state community college system and departments of Public Instruction and Commerce.
Former UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith said legislative leaders “pressed [Daughtry] out because he was making the right points and asking the right questions.”
Smith says Daughtry had also been critical of UNC leaders’ hiring of top legislative staffers. That includes Senate leader Phil Berger’s former chief of staff Andrew Tripp and House Speaker Tim Moore’s former chief of staff Bart Goodson, as well as the continued contract with political consultant Jim Blaine, also a former Berger chief of staff.
Tripp is senior vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, while Goodson is senior vice president of governmental relations. They report to system President Peter Hans.
Smith says the UNC board is “more political now than ever.”
“I think it’s a huge travesty that Leo Daughtry is no longer on that board,” he says. “Having diverse views and opinions is what creates good decisions and outcomes.”
Lawmakers tapped Lee Barnes, the CEO of the Durham-based Family Fare convenience store chain, to finish Daughtry’s term, which runs through June 2025.
Daughtry was a state senator from 1989 to 1993, and a House member from 1993 to 2016.