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NC lieutenant governor to sue governor over coronavirus orders

North Carolina Lieutenant Gov. Dan Forest (R) said in a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper (D) Thursday that he intends to sue him over his executive orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Forest’s letter claims Cooper’s executive orders, which most recently included requiring residents to wear face masks in public, “makes it impossible for me, as Lieutenant Governor, and all of the other members of the Council of State to fulfill our oaths to uphold the laws of North Carolina,” referencing a group of 10 state officials that also include the secretary of state and attorney general.

"The Emergency Management Act requires that you seek and receive concurrence from the Council of State prior to exercising the most expansive statewide emergency powers of the Governor," he wrote, saying that before a March 17 order that restaurants end dine-in service, Cooper consulted the council but proceeded despite a majority asking for further discussion.

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Forest’s letter states the governor has not consulted with the council before any orders since.

The letter also asks Cooper to avoid a conflict of interest by waiving a requirement that Attorney General Josh Stein (D) represent him.

Cooper’s press secretary, Dory MacMillan, suggested in a statement to CNN that Forest, who is running against Cooper in November’s gubernatorial election, was attempting to politicize COVID-19.

"There's no room for politics during a pandemic," she told the network. "The Governor will continue to be guided by science and the law as he works every day with public health experts to keep North Carolinians safe."

Cooper issued the mask requirement on Wednesday, saying the state will remain in the second phase of its reopening process for at least three more weeks.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, I've been clear that data and science would lead the way. In following that standard, it’s clear that our numbers will keep us from moving ahead in the next phase of easing restrictions,” he said.

The Hill has reached out to Cooper’s office for further comment.