17 Comments for this article

Tags: , , , , ,


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)– New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger has been collecting unemployment benefits for months according to a employer wage audit notice sent to the New Hanover County Government Center. We attempted to catch up with Berger Thursday at an agenda-briefing meeting to get his side of the story.

Berger refused to speak with us on camera, but he did release a statement saying:

“Running for election, the downturn in the economy, and the time I have devoted to serving the citizens of this county in the job they elected me to do, have made it impossible for my business to maintain itself. As a result, as so many of my constituents have had to do, I was forced to apply for unemployment to temporarily help myself through this difficult time. I am sad about this and even somewhat embarrassed, because like so many hard working people, I have devoted more time than ever to work, fulfilling my County Commissioner responsibilities and simultaneously building my business. It’s painful to concede that I needed some temporary help, and I along with many Americans have had to change some routines to keep afloat, but it will not deter me from moving forward. In fact, this fact has given me a greater feel for the hardships that so many people are feeling right now. I will continue my efforts to make my company viable and to serve the people of our county to make sure we become prosperous again, and allow all the people who want to work to have jobs and not have to look for help.”

Commissioner Jason Thompson says he has not been able to speak with Berger yet about the situation, but he thinks his fellow commissioner has some explaining to do.

“Anyone that wants to have open and honest government then they need to be open and honest with how they answer questions,” Thompson said.

Berger has never been specific on what he does for a living or who he works for. Thompson says as a commissioner, Berger owes it to the voters to be transparent.

“When you become a public official, you have to understand that you give up some of the rights that you as a private citizen have,” Thompson said. “If you guys want to come to my office and see what my day’s like, and short of me telling you what my salary is, I can certainly tell you where I work, how I do it.”

Thompson says he does not think this will effect the commission or their decisions. At least he hopes it does not.

“I don’t think it will effect how we do our business,” Thompson said. “I think it will effect how he (Berger) has to interact with his constituents. But as far as the business of the board… you hear the information, you make a vote. Your personal life shouldn’t be a factor. It should be what is the best interest of your citizens.”

Although Berger did not agree to be on camera at the meeting, he did say he would come to the WWAY studio within the next week to talk about this situation as well as other issues he has with the media.

Comment on this Story

  • Shaun O’Rourke

    This is what you get when you elect in these fake Republicans who BS the public into voting for them. Pantano is another one of these leaches that bleed salaries off the public either by being a career politician always raising money for elections they will never win, but able to use creative financing to pay bills with campaign contributions. If they are lucky they get in office and suck the tax payer dry for their salary. Berger and Pantano both inept to serve, but love to have their hands out for the money.

    Not to mention both guys are creepy.

  • OtherGuest

    If a person’s occupation, or lack of one, has some bearing on their ability to represent the people, then the people should satisfy themselves regarding that subject before voting that person into office.

  • Guest435

    Watch out Berger, Jason might try to beat you up in the parking lot or Barfield may want to get a loan so he can buy a sandwich to feed his face.

  • ShootersBoss

    Berger buys cheap meals, doesn’t waste our tax dollars on golf equipment like mr. barfield, or to payback his campaign manager and pals like thompson. Ask jason and barfield about the stadium they’re trying to build. The media wont. WWAY wont because they own land right there…its easy to see this smear campaign against berger is irrelevant in terms of his personal life. Has he been charged with a crime? ethical violation? Nope. Bar-Thompson dont know the meaning of ethics. WWay has an agenda and along with the other commissioners, they see Berger as a threat…brian might actually tell us whats going on behind those closed doors. things we’re not supposed to know. We’re just expected to pay…like we did for barfields trip to florida and golf outings and new driver.

    And if i’m not mistaken, jason makes money off contracts with the same governments he’s been a career politician with. Talk about corruption. Contempt for taxpayers and transparency. These two crooks run circles around berger with their public relations and media allies like wway. Berger has been a positive influence just by being there, and the other commissioners, those on the real public dole (public employees, groups that rely on taxes, civic projects like catlin who’s knee deep in the convention center and planned stadium). So Berger has hit hardtimes. there’s no crime in that. Look at the others and you’ll find berger is the most ethical by far. a victim of a witchhunt. C’mon..thompson crashes a plane with a woman he’s having an affair with and louise mccoll steps in and you guys dont report it…barfield drives to washington like berger, but berger comes back with less miles despite your allegations he was going to the beach and abusing the county vehicle. honor among thieves with wway, thompson and co. except there’s no honor in that crowd. Berger is a fighter, in over his head maybe, but who wouldnt be. get off hios back and find some real news for a change.

  • Straight Shooter

    Our news Media should look deeper into Brian Berger’s past for likely un-lawful activity. He is now a public servant and the public has the right to know more about this guy especially since he continues to evade his past.

  • Mike Miller

    Straight Shooter:
    Maybe we should investigate you as I’ve seen you state numerous times that you want to investigate the personal lives of local officials and politicians.
    You’re ridiculous. Everyone is a sinner. What are your sins? Everyone that is in office or is running for office is a sinner. I can guarantee it. We just don’t know about their sins. You have them to and I would bet my life on it. So why don’t you let us know what your’s are since you want to be the judge of everyone else. A personal life is not a litmus test for professional credentials or abilities. That is why it is called personal.

  • “Your personal life shouldn’t be a factor. It should be what is the best interest of your citizens.”

    This from the guy who threatened to beat the hell out of the mayor of Leland – yeah always thinking of what’s best for the citizens – what a public servant. What a martyr to responsible and honest government. Thompson’s so quick to take the moral high ground any time something happens to somebody else, and pretend he’s some kind of patron saint to good governance – yeah right.

  • Guestish

    Thompson invited the Mayor outside to repeat a lie. That is not a threat. The Mayor also recanted his statement, when he found out he was wrong.
    This is, most likely, not the last we’ve heard about Berger’s inconsistencies. Just admit that he was a bad pick, and we can move on.

  • Barry Batchelor

    Your personal life should not be a factor? In Your personal life if you are a dope dealer that is not a factor in your ability to serve the public? If You are an Alcoholic, should not be a factor? If You are six Bricks shy of a load that should not be a factor. I am not saying Mr. Berger is any of these but he really does lean towards the third one I mentioned. Anyone Who can’t see that is delusional, or are using this man as not only a mouthpiece for their own agenda but a whipping boy to take the heat from the other members of the board, the media and last but not least, the residents of New Hanover County. The question of Mr. Berger drawing unemployment is of no concern to me. Why he is drawing unemployment is of concern to me. No one has caused more conflict on a governing board Here since Katherine Moore. I am concerned about his nondisclosure of previous employment. I am sure there is more that goes on behind the scenes with the board. I just know what I see and hear in the Way Mr Berger handles himself and something ain’t right. Time for him to come clean now than later as this mess piles higher and higher. Transparency Mr Berger. That is what You promised. By the Way. If Mayor Futch called me a liar I would challenge Him also. He brings a lot upon himself in that department.

  • Guest52

    The problem is that he has been drawing unemployement while drawing a salary from the county. There are mechanisms to draw unemployement while still working part time but the numbers need to be looked at.

  • Guest3658974

    If I recall, when there was an incident involving Thompson and taxpayer money, he felt the public had no right to know. Now that it involves Berger, he owes the people an explanation. I’m not found of either one, but I can’t stand a hypocrite.

  • Guest272

    Beat the truth out of him Jason and let Barfield hold him so he cannot run. All of the County Commisioners are a joke. Let’s start over fresh with some new ones.

  • Guest797

    While we are on the subject….what does Pantano do for a living? He reported that he made $1,000 last year and now he claims to “have a job” but his buddy Chris Jones “hired” him for this fake position so he is no different than Berger. Both of these characters are an embarrassment in their personal and professional lives. I wonder if Berger has reported his county commissioner salary to the unemployment office? If not, charge him with a crime along with John Edwards. This guy is going down the tubes fast.

  • g money

    Ain’t nothin but a crook–and that’s my opinion…

  • GuestLee

    Sorry Mike, but I agree with Straight Shooter. Public officials are paid with public money, and therefore need to be held to a highter standard of openness and transparency than Average Joe.

    Every taxpayer has a right to know where their taxes are going, if their money is being spent legally, and that the person they voted into office is above reproach. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case here. We have a right to know, either way.

  • Dylan Oates

    “…and the time I have devoted to serving the citizens of this county in the job they elected me to do”

    Hey Brian,
    What time was this and what did you do exactly?
    Is this part of the time after you show up late to every meeting you “attend” or before?
    Maybe you can buy a new watch with that unemployment you’re drawing and at least make a small effort to actually follow through with the
    asinine statement you released.

    You haven’t done squat for the citizens of this county except demonstrate your utter incompentence. It’s an embarrassment that you’ve become one of our ‘elected officials’, but I guess that’s just par for the course considering your company on the board.


    You sir are a certifiable idiot. Just saying.


Related News