Lt. Gov. Dan Forest announces lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper
Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest announces a lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper over how he has handled the reopening of North Carolina, accusing him of violating the Emergency Management Act.
Well, good morning, everybody. This week, in my capacity as lieutenant governor and a member of the Council of State, I'm filing a lawsuit against Governor Roy Cooper challenging the executive orders related to Cove in 19 in the process by which they were implemented. This is the only option left on the table as all others have been exhausted. This lawsuit is not interested in the substance of Governor Cooper's orders. Let me say that again. This lawsuit is not interested in the substance of Governor Cooper's orders. It specifically addresses his lack of authority under the Emergency Management Act to shut down North Carolina without the concurrence of the Council of State. The members of the Council of State include the governor, the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, the attorney general, treasurer, commissioner of labor commissioner, insurance commissioner, agriculture superintendent of public instruction and the state auditor. From the beginning of our country, Americans have rightly been suspicious of executive power. When the governor is delegated power, it is not absolute. There exists a system of checks and balances which are necessary to ensure that we respect the freedom and the will of the people. One person in the position of governor or secretary of health is not allowed under the law to shut down wide swaths of the economy indefinitely. Governor Cooper has not followed the law. In March, Governor Cooper announced via Social Media that he was going to shut down restaurants in a matter of hours. Then, a few hours later, he asked Council of State for approval of his plans. He then held a press conference announcing his plans. While the Council of State was in the process of voting via email, the majority of the Council of State voted not to prove the executive order because the governor allowed no time for discussion of an order that shut down 11% of the state's economy. Without sufficient time for those impacted To prepare, the governor chose to unilaterally move forward in defines of the law and the Council of State. To date, he has not sought concurrence on six separate executive orders related to shutting down North Carolina in times of crisis. The rule of law is mawr important than ever. We must do the right thing in the right way. No one governor or citizen is above the rule of law, I am asking the court to invalidate Governor Cooper's unlawful executive orders that continue to shut down large parts of the economy until he receives the concurrence of the majority of the Council of State as required by law. I'll be happy to take questions from anyone in the media. I remember the first time you criticized Lawrence was with restaurant. Yeah, signed 45 different other statutes and said they have the power. Didn't need the assurance that you are your lawyers. Look, this statutes and I assume it, Jack says that's not accurate. Or can you just kind of describe their statements? Get your counter arguments. Yeah, exactly. That really is. What the entire lawsuit is based on is the fact that the governor is claiming other statutes for his emergency powers in our lawsuit, which I'm not gonna get into the details of today because it hasn't been released. But you will actually get The lawsuit will release that publicly as soon as we do, but it specifically relates to the executive power orders that he's using as it relates to the Emergency Management Act and the lack of concurrent from council estates. So that is very specifically what this lawsuit is about. Lieutenant Governor, I'm talking about we're seeing clearly for because the virus, what I do that's really not relevant to the lawsuit, Laura. But the point being that this is about the overreach of executive power and the rule of law, that's what this lost suit is specifically about. I would say that as we see the case numbers go up even in North Carolina, as testing, as you know, is going up significantly as well as we continue to test into communities in the tracing and tracking program that is going on, that we should very specifically focus our efforts on those communities where the issues are very similar to what's happening in in Florida and in Texas, where the mayors and the county commissioners are taking actions not necessarily the governor's taking actions in these instances. So you guys have on your website as well as the News Observer has on their website, even breakdown down into ZIP codes. I don't believe there's a one size fits all approach to this, so we have numerous counties across North Carolina that have no issue at all. Should those counties be required to follow the same guidelines as the very specific locations as to where the outbreaks are and where the where the big problem areas are for our state. So I think it's time to move beyond the overall one size fits all statewide emergency plan and move into very specific attack on where the problem areas are in our state. That's how I believe you're gonna learn how to live with the virus that we may not find a vaccine for. This may go on for a while, right? Just follow Texas on a statewide basis, and I realize that, Yeah, I'm asking what your business That depends on the situation. I mean, you know as well as I know there's a complete lack of data transparency in North Carolina. You've been asking a lot of the same questions that that I have been asking along the way. There's a lot of data points that are just just been missing eso While we continue to track number of cases, the cases are going to continue to go up until there's a vaccine for the virus. We all know that, but we tracked that every day and it becomes a headline. Every single day, the new number of cases, the reality as many of those cases have recovered. We know that we should be tracking what we call active cases. I believe we should be tracking symptomatic at cases as well. I believe we should take out of the data the 60 some percent of deaths that are happening in congregate care facilities because they have absolutely nothing to do with the general public in the lock down. They're separate issues. There's lots of data that we could get into. But the most important one now is certainly hospitalizations. And specifically I see use and how people are being impacted in the hospitals themselves are the reason for beginning this entire process, as you recall, was to flatten the curve. And we asked the people of North Carolina to make great sacrifices to flatten the curve so that our hospitals and hospital workers did not get overrun. We have never had a curve problem in North Carolina, or hospitals have done a marvelous job in our hearts. Hospital workers have done a marvelous job responding to the need. We don't have a problem on hospital rooms right now, availability or icy use while At the same time, elective surgeries have gone up and people are still having elective surgeries and obviously feeling. I see rooms that those hospitals in those specific locations where there are issues could roll back the elective surgeries. They could free up hospital spade bed space when necessary, there, already communicating and working together to let each other know where the hot spots arm where the issues, maybe in the future. And I think you have to address it in that way. Well, we tried going through multiple channels. We tried as a council estate begin to have conversations with the governor related to that specific issue. We said we needed MAWR information as way said. Back then, it wasn't about even the shutting down of restaurants. It was about the rapid process by which that happened by, uh, not allowing the restaurants, any amount of time to be able to prepare for that for that. But it was also about the rule of law, and so we made that very clear that the rule of law was broken and the governor didn't have not have this authority. Outside of that, we were told very specifically that he did not need. He did not need the Council of States concurrence for his executive order. In fact, I was even told by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services that she did not need that either, that she had wide ranging powers to be able to shut down the restaurants on her own. So that really defies the rule of law as well. So we went through the Council of State multiple times. We've asked the governor to have broader information sessions with the council estate to explain his executive orders and explain why these decisions were being made. We've asked for data. As you all well know, on multiple occasions, we've asked just for some very specific data. If you want to base your decisions on science and data, I believe you should make that science transparent. And you should certainly make the data transparent but specifically related to the council estate. There are 10 people on the Council of state. 10 heads are better than one in some cases, and I think that these people all bring valuable information to bipartisan body, as you know, So they bring valuable information to the table. Dale follow has been very clear. The impact theirry reparable harm that's being done, especially Downeast on this, with our municipalities in our county's related to water bills and power bills and those kinds of things where they're going to be billions of dollars behind in the long run. So these were just conversations that should be had amongst Council of State members. So we went that avenue. We were also even the Council state members. We were hoping that the General Assembly was going to be able to address some of these issues as well. So we waited through that legislative process. And there were several bills that came forward, but none specifically dealing with the overreach of power, none specifically dealing with veto overrides of some of the decisions. And so once the Legislature was done and they left town than we've said, we've exhausted all options, and this is the path to go. I've always had the same philosophy since I got involved in politics, and some people say this is this is political, what we're doing. There's nothing politically expedient about suing the governor ever. It doesn't politically work in your favor, but my office motto. My team motto has always been Always do do the right thing, no matter what the cost of the consequence. That is what I believe. And I believed again, as I said in my statement, that in times of emergency it's Mawr important than ever to uphold the rule of law. So that applies to governors that applies the citizens as well. CS 70 never reference. Did you invite any of the other members state here joining today? Not today. Several weeks ago, perhaps a month ago, we actually had conversations with the members of the council estate. They didn't have an appetite to do this. They were really just kind of like. We were hoping that the General Assembly would be able to deal with these issues and another forum format. This is this is the last. The last thing we wanted to do, Certainly. Last thing they wanted to do. And we just decided that we would move forward on her own with this without the rest of the Council of State. So we didn't ask him, in this case stage assuming this loss. And secondly, what would ask the so he gets a press conference, ask the second question again. What would you like? A big worry would ask questions, government press conferences over his authority and where he drops that Well, I think all answer the 2nd 1 first. Yeah, I think the governor has been clear. He believes he has that authority under these other statutes. That's why he's moving forward unilaterally without the concurrence of the council estate. So that's what he would claim has already claimed that on some issues, the secretary of health and human services were claimed that she had the authority to do that as well. On the Weight County Superior Court. That's a thumbs up on weight kind of spirit court filing. Thank you. This is a little tangential. There's been a lot of discussion in the last couple weeks about these bills. Concurrence. Second of words, But you haven't been presiding over with Senate passed weeks. You don't issue what? Residing. Just explain why you haven't been sure. Well, first of all, presiding over the Senate has absolutely nothing to do with the ability of debate. That lieutenant governor has no debating ability. We've obviously been working behind the scenes with not just members of the Senate, but members of the House to try to find ways. Teoh, make sure that the law is upheld in North Carolina. So that's regardless of presiding. I made a very conscious effort When session came back in. We we were traveling around the state. We were meeting with business owners and individuals around the state who have been again irreparably harmed by some of these decisions. Businesses that won't open up. I made a conscious decision not to my office, but through my campaign to actually give away funds. Two people that were hurting out there. We didn't. We didn't go with any media or any fanfare, but we traveled around the state and help people out. There are people that have lost their businesses. They won't open up again. There are people, as we know that across the state are dealing with depression and anxiety and addiction of of all kinds on. I don't think we're going to see the effects of what locked down does to your state outside of the Corona virus issue separate from the Corona virus issue. But what is a lock down do psychologically to the state into the people of our state? I think there's gonna be real damages long term that we're gonna have to figure out. And so we spent. We've been spending our time going out and meeting with people and hearing these stories and listening to the stories. I think that's really important. It's extremely important as your trying to pass legislation or make laws or do executive orders to get beyond the four walls of buildings like this, if you will, and go out there and hit here where the real stories of pain actually exists. Follow up. Bill was in given $50 million into a new grant program for their This is your top. All right that would you have, Did you? I mean, you know the ability to get help to these businesses. You know, I didn't lobby specifically for that, Laura. I mean, there's obviously a lot of complex details that go into all this thing When you're talking about giving away money, I think there's gonna be all kinds of people hurting for a long time related to this. I think that certainly when the government tells businesses they must shut their doors into no fault of their own, they do that and they lose their livelihood sometimes lose their business, they go out of business. I think there is a moral obligation upset this before of the government to be able to help those folks out. It's gonna cost trillions of dollars in this country, as you know, to do that. But I believe the government government has a moral obligation to help. I think the General Assembly is probably gonna be working on that for maybe years to come related to the cost of this. And so I think that there are unintended consequences that will be dealt with for a long time but specifically related to that bill. Now, I didn't LA before. Yes, So the question is, if folks could hear it, there is I questioned as well as the media has questioned data that is being shared with the public or or the council of State, or or the lack of transparency and certain data points along the way. I believe that when you are claiming science and data, the MAWR data you have represented in different ways better the more we can do to paint the picture of the data that we need to make clear, concise decisions is really important. For instance, we know who this virus impacts the most. It's the elderly. It's those that have co morbidity ease within the elderly. We know where the symptoms that people that are negatively symptomatic are. And we can focus on those communities, like nursing homes where some 60% of the deaths have occurred. And yet we still don't have full testing in our nursing homes, even though that was suggested by the vice president some six weeks or so ago. And that still hasn't happened. But nursing homes should be a primary focus, as they have been in other states. Other data is as like I said, it's very specific of honing in on when you speak of icy you beds. The I. C U beds, air filling up are those icy you beds full of people that have bad symptoms from Corona virus? Where were they there for another surgery and were tested positive for Corona virus while they're there? Are there people that have come from nursing homes into the hospitals into the icy use? Where did they come from and where did they originate from? The more you can hone in on that, the more you can deal with the problem. If our Hispanic community is getting hit exceptionally hard right now by population, then we need to have a real strong focus on our Hispanic community, both both in education terms and outreach terms into those communities to make sure that we are being proactive in those communities and not reactive. But that comes down to not just saying it's the Hispanic community because it's not in your your data on your websites actually prove that you could weaken, hone in on the ZIP codes where these things are actually taking place. We know by zip code where the Hispanic community is being hit. We could be proactive in those locations first, so there's a whole list of that I've got. I probably have 30 different points of data that we haven't been able to find a receive along the way. Death certificates is another point. North Korea is the only state in the country that doesn't have their death certificates up. We need to know specific causes of death as well, and then I think we need to make a general shift. I think it's time to make the shift away from way from a fear campaign, Which is this about the numbers increasing every day to a campaign of hope. We know that the death rate is actually decreasing. We know that in general terms, the percent positive tests, even as tests are going through the roof is generally is generally remaining the same could be going down because we're going into communities in testing where we know there are outbreaks specifically. So the percent could be going down if we were testing the general public as a whole S o. I think there's some positives out there, and there's some things that we can look for always being optimistically, cautiously optimistic as we move forward. But I think there's some positives. Well, so I think we need Teoh by providing more data, more complete, comprehensive data. I think we can take the fear away from a lot of people. Onda. We can be optimistic about the approach we're taking moving forward. We're expecting the government to make Are you next year? Part of that May or may not be a requirement. Well, Laura, as you know, um I was the only member of the State Board of Education. Do not vote for any of the three plans, and the reason was because I asked a simple question in the state Board of Education meeting. I said, What is the goal? What are we trying to achieve with our students, and how will we know that we've actually achieved that goal? When can we? When can we break down these requirement to say students are okay to go back to school freely on There was about 10 seconds of silence on that zoom call where nobody could answer that question. That's problematic. It's similar to the way I started this to the Q and A with what is the goal we keep moving. The goal post is that to eliminate the virus from our society? Or is it to keep the health care system for being overwhelmed? The people of North Carolina need to know that now, getting back to the school specifically, I think it's important for all parents to know out there and for all educators to know to. There has not been one serious outbreak of Corona virus anywhere in the world in a school, not one serious outbreak in K 12 school anywhere in the world in their schools remained open. There are schools that are opening up in different ways. But to suggest that our kids need to go back wearing masks every day and taking half days in school and get it filling up our buses halfway and all these things, that's that is based on the information we have from around the world. That's nonsensical Right now. We should not be doing that. We should allow our students to get back to school like other countries around the world are doing, and many states here in the United States air doing as well. So I don't agree with those plans because I have not seen a plan that has a goal set forth into when we will know that we've achieved the goal that is set forth, Thank you very much for your time.