Despite mystery job, Brian Berger received unemployment

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Submitted: Thu, 06/02/2011 - 5:24pm
Updated: Fri, 06/03/2011 - 11:12am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger has been drawing unemployment benefits from an unknown company in Washington, DC, according to a story published Thursday by the Wilmington StarNews.

Berger has continuously sidestepped questions regarding what he does for a living since before last year’s election. All he will say is that he’s a consultant focusing on marketing and communications. But not once has he communicated any specifics about what he purports to market or who he consults for.

Records show that he has been on unemployment since at least January and that the benefits ended May 21.

According to a background check WWAY ran on Berger, he has only two jobs listed, including his current consulting job, which he calls Strategic Communications Group LLC. It’s listed with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office. The address is Berger’s home address.

The check also found Berger listed working for the Libertarian Party in Washington, DC, from January 1, 2008 until January 25, 2010. We called party headquarters today to confirm Berger’s employment. Executive Director Wes Benedict said he had never heard of Berger, and that he had never worked in the party’s office, which has only six people. We also called the phone number listed with the job. It was the number of a former Libertarian candidate in Indiana and current national party board member, who told us she had never heard of Berger either.

He also worked for an adhesive industry lobbying group in Maryland as the Manager of Marketing, but we confirmed today that he only held that job for seven months back from December 2003 to July 2004.

Berger says on his County Commission web page that he has been a Wilmington resident since 2004. He makes $17,000 a year as a commissioner.

Local blogger, activist and passionate Berger supporter Ben McCoy told the StarNews he thinks the county violated state and federal law by releasing a “wage audit notice” from Washington’s Office of Unemployment Compensation to the paper. He called on District Attorney Ben David to investigate. David told us he has no plans at this time to look into the matter as his office prosecutes and does not investigate.

Last week, Berger was an hour late to a meeting at the General Assembly in Raleigh. We tried to talk with him about the meeting, but he refused to stop and do an interview with us. He did mention however that he was talking with his attorney about the possibility of suing WWAY for fabricating stories. Berger has recently come under fire for being late to meetings and missing meetings for boards that he is a member of.

He also claims that there is a conspiracy among some media in town who are “out to get” him.

New Hanover County Commissioners have an agenda briefing meeting scheduled for today at 4 p.m. at the Government Center. We hope to talk with Berger about this issue and with his fellow commissioners as well.


  • John Holland says:

    I would like to join those who are defending Mr. Berger for collecting unemployment benefits in hard times.

    Sometimes, even able-bodied Americans just can’t find work. I’m so grateful we had that safety net available for Berger in his time of need. Americans’ willingness to support fellow citizens in need is what makes our country great. Please join me, Ben McCoy, and other patriots in standing up for those folks who rely on their unemployment checks to get by.

    Join us in fighting for the rights of the neediest among us, because there are jerks out there who would like to take their unemployment away.

  • Guest1984 says:

    I did not vote for berger last time- but I wish I had. The sleaze thrown at this guy has crossed a line. Collecting unemployment is not wrong –but the malicious leak and invasion of his privacy should offend all of us. The “gang up” by hypocrits like Barfield and this leak just takes place after he indicates he would not vote for a pay increase. That smells. If Wanda Copley does not look into this-then the DA should. If his rights can be violated so can ours. If Berger needs to explain his stance on unemployement then the County needs to have any employee who offered this wrongfully to the star news explain their conduct. What just took place is just plain wrong and that employee should be fired.

  • WillBDone says:

    Well that explains the lateness…he was standing in line for unemployment.

    Brian you are a hypocritical buffoon and a complete liar. I’m now paying for you twice, (1) with my tax dollars and (2) with my credibility by voting for you. Thanks!

  • Straight Shooter says:

    If this is the best you can do, to front this WACKED-OUT slease-ball then continue to lye for him again and again, than you are certainly not quailified to be our Wilmington Watcher! As they say, “Birds of a feather flock together”

  • WilmWatcher says:

    First of all, don’t levy attacks on someone if you yourself CAN’T EVEN SPELL.

    Second, I didn’t ask for your opinion on whether I’m “qualified” to write a blog called The Wilmington Watcher. I know you enlightened progressives that are so much smarter than the rest of us think that opinions stop and start with your illustrious blessing, but my Constitution says otherwise.

    Third, I know who you are, and I know why you lose sleep at night trying to figure out new and creative ways to disparage Brian Berger, although you really suck at it.

    Fourth, the rational criticism of Berger equals that of any of the other commissioners. The rest is hype, bandwagon groupthink collectivist bashing, and flat out lies. Has Brian been late to some meetings? Sure. So has every other commissioner. Has Brian missed 2 CFPUA meetings? Sure. So has Rick Catlin – even though WWAY reported dishonestly that he had perfect attendance. One of Catlin’s missed meetings was at the same time as one of Berger’s – because they were BOTH IN RALEIGH TOGETHER. One of the last meetings, Catlin didn’t show up, didn’t call, didn’t write, no one knew where he was – did the media have an orgy over it? No. Did anyone say anything? No.

    I have criticized Berger for the few truly deserved issues that he has fumbled – so don’t call me a blind supporter. His first meeting when he voted for another damn park; and for Barfield to be Chairman I still give him hell about. But the populist bashing just because simple-minded morons are trying to curry favor with other simple-minded morons is pathetic.

  • WillBDone says:

    Wow! Investigate who “leaked this”! Its public information… all email to government is public information. If you want an investigation, how about this: Why did he not report the income? They had to come after him with an audit… and fraud division at that. How long has he been on unemployment? All the while saying “I’m a small businessman and I understand having to make payroll” (Google the video). Who’s on his payroll? Are they collecting too? Did he report the income from his business? Was he collecting when he started is business? If so did he report that?

    This smells… He started his “business” to cover for the fact he was on the taxpayers hand-out and lie to us all along. Now that’s worth an investigation

  • John Holland says:

    @guest is so right! Thank you for defending the rights of the unemployed! So many people are out to destroy the dignity of those who collect unemployment. They’re called “lazy,” “freeloaders”‘ etc. Lately, FOX New has been maligning unemployment beneficiaries as “takers”!

    It’s disgusting. And this latest development just shows the ongoing stigma against those collecting unemployment. It’s time for us to stand up for the rights of the unemployed, and stop these attacks on poor people like Mr. Berger. I agree with guest and @Ben that we need to start treating people on unemployment with respect.

  • guesty says:

    You would think someone without a job would be able to be at all meetings on-time. Maybe he lost track of time reading the want ads.

  • Double Berger with cheese says:

    You shouldn’t be, this is who you voted for, after all…
    While I don’t love Rick Catlain, I do think he is the only commissioner that actually has a brain…

  • MonkJctvoter says:

    I totally agree!

  • PR says:

    And for Berger to keep attacking Catlin is all the proof I need that he’s nuttier than even his critics thought. Catlin is the best Republican this county has seen in years.

  • Guestafer says:

    Going to get some popcorn and a drink. This should get interesting.

  • Guest112 says:

    What?? No “First on 3 Exclusive” here? Guess the Star News “Scooped” you guys running the story early this morning! Better luck next time guys!

  • Doug E says:

    There is nothing sad or embarrassing about collecting unemployment benefits. The only thing sad and embarrassing is being associated with a party that labels everyone that uses these benefits as part of an “entitlement society”.

  • Guest9743 says:

    Speaking of “entitlement society”, this same party will be looking at (if they aren’t already) retired military pay and benefits as an entitlement. Think this is a joke, just wait and see!!

  • WilmWatcher says:

    I can see the WWAY newsroom now – 17 people with their computers all tuned into the Star News to see what stories they will regurgitate as “news”. And when a Brian Berger story shows up, I can only imagine the wild primal orgy of excitement….ewwww

    And to clarify, I asked if Berger’s personnel files were given to the media and other interests; and if so, I asked David’s office to look into it. But you would know that if you were actually the media outlet reporting this story, instead of stealing from your competitors, and passing it off as your own.

    And be sure to censor my comments from appearing on your website – even though you mention me by name in your “article”…

  • Guest90 says:

    We all know you can’t spin this one, but at least try being honest.They said the story appeared in the Star News and the Star News also mentioned you by name so what’s your problem. I know it hurts when someone else is right and you are wrong about someone you love.

  • Guest9743 says:

    OK tea party, where are you….don’t bail on your boy now, he needs you to stand up for him, again!!!

  • Guest3479 says:

    I don’t agree with everything any politician of any party does.

    Does drawing unemployment somehow disqualify people from holding office or make them any less of a citizen?

  • Doug E says:

    They have already labeled teachers, cops, and firefighters as mooching off the taxpayers for their pay and benefits. I’m afraid the military is most likely next.

  • donjavid says:

    WWAY while you are on the subject of “mystery jobs” would you please come back to Columbus County and investigate what appears to be Mitchell Tyler’s mystery job and what appears to be his unlimited time away from his state paid job to campaign for his cronies on the taxpayers dime. WWAY you can be the first to break this story.

  • Guest1 says:

    So a few weeks ago when WWAY was the only one running stories on Berger they were being called a tabloid. Now that the Star News breaks a story first, WWAY is a copycat.

    I’ve seen many stories here where WWAY is holding Thompson and Barfield under a microscope. Where is the outrage then? Do they deserve it and Berger does not?

  • Guest228 says:

    I guess the back room dealings he was so against were made at the unemployment office..LOL..what a hypocrite!!

  • WilmWatcher says:

    That has to be the dumbest thing I have ever read on this website. And that is saying a whole hell of a lot. Congratulations.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    if he is drawing unemployment, he apparently must certify weekly that he is not working; receiving any type of income; and is actively seeking work.

    In this case, it appears Mr. Berger was receiving about $340 per week as an elected official; that’s income. He should not have been also collecting unemployment benefits.

    IN many states this would constitute fraud on a felony level. That would be one charge for each week he collected unemployment while being paid to represent his consituents.

  • TheGoatTheGoatTheGoat says:

    From the StarNews:
    “A New Hanover County commissioner earns about $17,000 a year, and it is not considered a full-time job. Having a part-time job does not stop the benefits, officials said, but only adjusts the benefit amount from the agency.”

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it’s definitely not as cut dry a determination as you assumed it to be. Maybe he collected too much by not reporting his commissioner salary, maybe he didn’t. But it clearly is not the case that he, by default, “should not have been also collecting unemployment benefits.”

  • SurfCityTom says:

    in NC.

    But if he was collecting benefits from another state, I believe their laws would apply.

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