The Republican-controlled State Board of Elections Wednesday chose Kim Westbrook Strach, a veteran campaign investigator, to be the elections board director. She will replace Gary Bartlett who had been elections director under the past three Democratic governors. The elections board vote was 3-2 along party lines, with Democrats voting in opposition saying they had not time to examine Strach’s credentials and thought there should be a longer transition for Bartlett. The move came just several days after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory named a new elections board, a move that typically occurs when there is a change in political parties.
Strach, who is currently deputy director for campaign reporting, had worked on the state elections campaign staff for the past 13 years. She played a leading role in a wide-range of investigations of such political figures as former House Speaker Jim Black, former Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps, former state Reps. Thomas Wright and Michael Decker and former Governors Mike Easley and Bev Perdue. All but Decker are Democrats.
Josh Howard, a Raleigh attorney who was chosen Wednesday as the new elections board chairman, called Strach experienced and “tough as nails.’’
“Kim has spent many years investigating the powerful,” Howard said. “That is not easy to do.’’
But now Strach and the new Republican-lead elections board face a complaint that 60 campaign contributions totaling more than $230,000 had been made from an indicted sweepstakes company owner to GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate leader Phil Berger and others.