Raleigh, N.C. — A woman who was, at one point, House Speaker Tim Moore‘s fiancée was the only person considered for a pair of state jobs after the speaker‘s office forwarded her resume – and only her resume – for consideration.
The second job, her current one, was created by the General Assembly through a 2017 budget bill.
Jennifer Gray spent about nine years with the Wake County District Attorney‘s Office before joining the state Department of Insurance, where she works with local prosecutors to shepherd fraud cases through the courts. These cases lingered in the past, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said, and last year, the General Assembly added about 30 positions at the department to investigate and help prosecute them.
Gray was hired at the department before those jobs existed, as an attorney at an annual salary of $82,000. Department General Counsel John Hoomani said Gray was the only person considered for that job and that her resume came from Moore‘s office. It was the only resume the office forwarded for the job, Hoomani said.
That position, and Gray‘s current one at the department, was one of the hundreds exempt from normal state hiring rules, Hoomani said. Elected officials are essentially able to name whomever they want to these “exempt policymaking” jobs without interviewing others, much like a political appointment.
Causey said he felt no pressure from Moore to hire Gray. Moore‘s office confirmed that he and Gray were in a relationship when her resume was forwarded to Causey‘s department. The two were, at one point, engaged to be married but are no longer a couple.
Gray declined an interview request. Causey said Gray has done “an amazing job” at the department, and Hoomani said her experience as an assistant district attorney fit well with the job description, which required her to work with district attorneys around the state.
Hoomani also said he didn‘t know about Gray‘s relationship with Moore when he interviewed her for the job.
Moore, R-Cleveland, issued a statement through his spokesman Friday, who asked that it be published in its entirety:
“I recommended Jennifer to the Department of Insurance and provided her resume because they were looking for a prosecutor and she was an experienced and talented lawyer with 10 years of service as an assistant district attorney,” he said. “I often recommend people who are fully qualified and I believe will be a credit to the state, and no laws or rules are violated in making such recommendations. Jennifer and I are no longer in a relationship, but we remain close friends.”
Gray started at the department in March 2017. The state budget that passed later that year added new fraud investigator positions, as well as a prosecutor chief job that would eventually oversee another pair of attorneys added later to the state budget.
Gray moved into the “financial crimes – prosecutor chief” position, which pays $88,893 a year, on Nov. 1.
The job wasn‘t in an initial Senate version of the budget proposal that year, but it was in the House‘s, and it ended up in the final negotiated bill.
Some of these details by the Checks & Balances Project, a watchdog group.