Unanimous Senate confirms Roseland as state controller
- The N.C. Senate voted 47-0 Tuesday to confirm Nels Roseland as state controller.
- Roseland has continued predecessor Linda Combs' legal battle against a forced money transfer tied to North Carolina's long-running Leandro education funding lawsuit.
More than seven months after he started the job, State Controller Nels Roseland has won official confirmation from the N.C. Senate. Senators voted 47-0 to approve Roseland as controller through June 2029.
The seven-year appointment also requires a vote in the state House.
“I have been very pleased with his work and what he’s doing,” said Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson. “I think he’s a great guy, and he certainly has the experience. … Mr. Roseland is doing an outstanding job.”
Sen. Gale Adcock, D-Wake, noted that she has known Roseland since his days serving two four-year terms on the Cary Town Council. Adcock said Roseland had recruited her to run for the council.
“I’ve always been impressed with his dedication to public service, and I’m delighted to support the appointment of such a skilled, experienced, and dedicated individual as our state controller,” Adcock said.
Roseland has generated headlines for his role in the state’s ongoing Leandro education funding lawsuit.
When Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Roseland as acting controller, effective July 1, 2022, the controller’s office was playing a leading role in a dispute over state courts’ ability to bypass the General Assembly when spending state money.
Roseland’s predecessor, Linda Combs, went to court in November 2021. She asked the N.C. Court of Appeals to issue a rare “writ of prohibition” to block an order from Judge David Lee, who then oversaw the Leandro case.
Lee had ordered the forced transfer of $1.75 billion out of the state treasury to fund court-ordered Leandro education items. The order targeted Combs, the state budget director, and the state treasurer.
Combs argued that taking part in the forced money transfer would have forced her to violate her oath of office. She also could have faced criminal charges, she argued. Combs said she could move money from the state treasury only with permission of the General Assembly in a budget act.
The Appeals Court agreed with Combs and issued the writ blocking Lee’s order. Then the state Supreme Court stepped in and agreed to take up the case. Combs’ term as controller ended on June 30, 2022, during the middle of the legal battle.
One week before Combs’ retirement, state senators held a confirmation hearing for Roseland, who was working as Cooper’s deputy state budget director. Roseland promised to pursue Combs’ legal strategy. Yet on three separate occasions, he refused to answer “yes” or “no” about whether he would comply with a Leandro court order calling for the forced transfer of funds from the treasury.
In the following months, Roseland continued to follow Combs’ legal path. He filed an Aug. 1 petition urging the state Supreme Court to reject the forced money transfer.
After the high court rejected that petition and endorsed the forced money transfer in November, Roseland objected to a proposed timetable for proceeding with the case. Shortly after Roseland’s objections became clear within court documents, the Leandro case shifted to a new judge.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James Ammons of Cumberland County now oversees the case. He is scheduled to hold his first Leandro hearing on March 10 in Raleigh.
The controller is the state’s “chief fiscal officer,” according to the office’s website. “The Controller serves as an independent resource to protect the financial integrity of the State and to promote accountability in an objective and efficient manner through its accounting, disbursing, payroll, internal control, data management, eCommerce, and financial reporting systems.”