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Robert Bryan, far from roughing it after losing House seat

Former Republican House member Robert Bryan III lost to Democrat Mary Belk in the November 2016 election, but his loss couldn’t have stung much. In April 2017 Bryan was appointed by the House to the UNC Board of Governors and was sworn in for his four-year term at the end of June. 

Before he lost his House seat, Bryan picked up the title of Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategies and Real Estate at Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions in September 2016.  Bryan has probably been enjoying some sweet perks on Cardinal’s (and NC taxpayer’s) dimes. 

85 percent of Cardinal’s funding comes from Medicaid, which included $587 million in fiscal year 2015-16, plus $83.8 million from the state, and $7.2 million from counties.

In May of this year, the Office of the State Auditor released a report on Cardinal that found it paid its CEOs $1.2 million more than the law allowed. In addition, the group spent money on cushy perks like “parties, alcohol, first-class airline tickets, and other luxuries.”

State Audior Beth Wood made it clear Cardinal must answer to the General Assembly. Wood was quoted as saying in the Winston-Salem Journal in May “Its whole independent contractor claims have been taken out of context, and they are being misleading when they say they are.” 

Let’s explore some of the lavish perks Bryan probably enjoyed, directly from the Auditor’s report

  • Christmas Parties: In FY 2016, Cardinal hosted 75 attendees at the Whitehead Manor Conference Center, a retreat-like historic venue. Cardinal paid $18,130, with an average cost of $242 per attendee. This total includes $3,250 for facility rental, $6,122 for a caterer, $1,337 for hotel stays, $668 for hotel cancellation fees, $1,385 for decorations, and $1,126 for alcohol.” 
  • Executive Credit Card Expenses: Credit card expenditures were reviewed for five former and current Cardinal executives, and an Executive Assistant: 1,591 transactions totaling $174,454. Although many transactions appear to be business related, many were questionable:
    • 20 transactions ($3,281 – 2% of $174,454) were alcohol purchases
    • 12 transactions ($10,521 – 6%) were first-class airline tickets with an average cost of $877
    • 169 transactions ($47,987 – 28%) were hotel charges above the federal hotel rate
    • 503 transactions ($38,177 – 22%) lacked sufficient documentation, therefore auditors cannot determine if unreasonable expenses occurred.”
  • Board Retreats: The FY 2016 retreat cost $78,028 for 19 board members and staff plus their guests, and three speakers […] The board had six hours of meetings at the 2015 retreat and 9 hours of meetings at the 2016 retreat, which effectively cost $9,188 and $8,670 per hour of productivity for each retreat, respectively.”
    • “For the 2016 retreat, 22 attendees included 11 board members, 8 Cardinal staff members, and 3 speakers. Although the number of guests cannot be confirmed, one of the banquet costs for 2016, scheduled in advance, was for 47 people.”

It doesn’t seem like Bryan will have to learn how to rough it. Cardinal’s Chief Administrative Officer told a WSOCTV reporter that the company has no plans to lower the CEO salary or implement any immediate changes based on the audit.