Raleigh, N.C. — Three high-ranking officials in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration have quit in recent days with little or no notice.
Secretary of Public Safety Kieran Shanahan left Wednesday, six days after submitting his resignation. He cited his wife's recent promotion in the U.S. Navy Reserves and his own business interests, including his Raleigh law firm, as reasons for his departure.
Shanahan's second-in-command, Edward "Sonny" Masso, resigned last Thursday as chief operating officer of DPS. No reason was given for his resignation.
Late Tuesday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos announced that Dr. Laura Gerald was out as state health director.
Gerald had served in state government for many years and was put in charge of the Division of Public Health by former Gov. Beverly Perdue. She cited differences with the McCrory administration in her resignation letter.
"Although I have demonstrated the ability to produce accomplishments that require work and collaboration with diverse groups and across political aisles, I acknowledge that I have significant differences and disagreements with many of the policy and administrative directions that I see unfolding in North Carolina and in the Department of Health and Human Services," she wrote. "These differences are making it increasingly impossible to continue to be effective in my current role."
David McLennan, a political science professor at William Peace University, said Gerald's departure isn't surprising.
"She's used to being in state government under Democratic administrations, under Gov. Perdue, and then transitions to under the leadership of Gov. McCrory and the policy differences between the two administrations. You could see that coming to a head," McLennan said.
More surprising, he said, is Shanahan's sudden departure from DPS.
"They don't speak to why he left with such short notice," McLennan said. "Most cabinet-level officials give reasonable notice so there can be a transition in place. This is not happening in Public Safety."
McCrory said Friday that he was involved in Shanahan's decision. He also said the first time they discussed it was the day Shanahan quit.
"His focus wasn't going to be able to stay on this job the way it needed to be," the governor said. "We both agreed that that would be the best move for the future."
The lack of notice in all three cases is odd, but turnover isn't unusual in a new political administration, McLennan said, adding that other governors have seen a lot more of it during their tenures.
"Most people appointed to those positions are very successful coming into the administration, and they can get kind of bogged down in the political world," he said.
Still, he said, turnover tends to speed up when a political administration's approval ratings are down, so he's waiting to see if more resignations follow in the coming weeks.