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.