The enigmatic Mr. Royal



The media is dismissing Steve Royal, the GOP nominee for state treasurer, as an also-ran — an after-thought.  Royal has raised very little money and has been so low-key that an awful lot of politicos (even those in his own party) have a hard time describing or identifying him.  Jimmy Stewart made “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” — a movie about an average guy, fed up with Washington, who gets elected to Congress — part of the American political lexicon.   Is Steve Royal about to give us “Mr. Royal Goes To Raleigh”?

One nominee for a Council of State office this year shared this story with me:

“We were all at  a candidates forum just a few weeks before the primary.  Frank Roche, the supposed front runner in the treasurer’s race, was telling us all that he had yet to see his opponent Steve Royal.  Well, Royal was at the event, and walked over to shake hands with Frank.  Frank enthusiastically shook hands with Steve, chuckled, and said ‘I was beginning to believe you didn’t actually exist.’ ”

Well, Royal is very real.  He won the May primary handily, and is putting a scare into Democrat incumbent Janet Cowell. Current polls show him within a whisker of Cowell, and the incumbent has begun to air attack ads against Royal. (Royal rebuts her charges and fires back on his web site.)

The Republican’s low-key  but blunt-spoken style has won him a lot of enthusiastic followers among Tea Partiers and Ron Paul supporters.  While Royal is surging,  Cowell has been hit with criticism from the State Employees Association and bad publicity about her really bad decision to invest millions in state retirement funds in the dubious Facebook IPO.

Royal makes his case pretty simply on the home page of his campaign web site:

What’s the real problem?   

It’s the DEBT! Former chairman Adm. Mike Mullen described the nation’s debt as “America’s biggest national security threat”.  Not only does our nation face a debt crisis, but so does North Carolina.  Excessive debt can not only destroy individuals, but also cities, counties, and even states. Debt is to be respected, even feared.

North Carolina has been racking up almost 3 billion dollars of debt to the Federal government by overdrawing the unemployment fund and this debt grows everyday (about $25 million per week). The complete lack of leadership by the current Governor and Treasurer is without explanation. Also, the pension fund has gone from being over-funded to drastically under-funded. This can only be described as political and financial negligence.


Big money is destroying the political process. The serious office of NC Treasurer has been used as a political “milking-machine” for almost twelve years, to fund the office holder’s political coffers with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Known as “Pay-To-Play” because the vast amount of this money came from law firms, financial interests and bank interests. My motto shall be: Absolutely No Pay-To-Play.

And no more games with the pension fund’s financial reports, period!…as with a $771 million loss on securities realized but not shown. Last year’s report excluded over $5 billion in questionable mortgage securities, not disclosed. We should protect the pension funds with a full independent audit.

My belief

We need Main Street North Carolina’s ethics, not Wall Street’s. The Treasurer’s office needs to have complete and total transparency. Twelve years of keeping the citizens and retirees in the dark is long enough. I will serve only one term (four years) and then return home, as I believe I can (and should) get the job done within one term.

My experience in business and finances is real and practical. I review daily the current economic issues via CNBC and Bloomberg. My interests and experiences extend beyond the accounting and tax world.