Rep. Patrick McHenry (R, NC-10) announced Wednesday that his former regional director, J. Brett Keeter, will now serve as the district director on his staff. The change will take effect immediately.
Keeter will manage McHenry’s district offices located in Hickory, Gastonia and Black Mountain, where he will oversee the seven district staff members responsible for assisting 10th District constituents with issues with federal agencies. In addition, Keeter will now serve as McHenry’s main contact to local governments throughout the seven counties of the 10th District.
Prior to Keeter’s appointment, Mark Fleming served as McHenry’s District Director from January 2008 to March 2014. According to McHenry’s press release, Fleming left the position to become the president and CEO of Conservatives for Clean Energy.
Keeter is the longest tenured member of McHenry’s staff, having worked in the congressman’s district office since he was first sworn in as a member of congress in January 2005. Prior to McHenry’s election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Keeter served as a legislative director during McHenry’s time in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
A Gaston County native, Keeter graduated from UNC-Charlotte in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He currently resides in Gastonia with his wife, Madeline.
“Brett has long been a trusted aide ably serving the constituents of the 10th District,” McHenry said. “I am pleased to announce his promotion as District Director. Few know North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District better than Brett. I have no doubt he will continue his strong work in this new role.”
McHenry also shared his praise this week for the bipartisan passage of House Resolution 588, concerning the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s suspension of exit permits for adopted Congolese children. The bill, which McHenry co-sponsored, requests that the Congolese government immediately resume the processing of adoption cases and the issuing of exit permits.
“The Congolese Government’s refusal to issue exit permits for these adopted children is both irresponsible and unnecessary,” McHenry said in his press release. “There are numerous loving parents prepared to welcome these orphaned children into their homes and the DRC has instead decided to build arbitrary barriers preventing it. I am proud to cosponsor and support this resolution calling upon the DRC to immediately resume issuing exit permits so these children can join caring families in America.”
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, it is estimated that there are more than four million orphans living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Americans from 43 different states have attempted to adopt children from the DRC, but have been prevented from doing so due to the government’s suspension of the issuance of exit permits.
McHenry first became aware of the DRC’s suspension of exit permits last November, when a local Gastonia family contacted his office seeking assistance. McHenry worked with the State Department to assist the Littlejohns in securing exit permits for their two adopted children in the DRC. This June, the Littlejohns were reunited with their children when they arrived home to Gastonia. Last month, McHenry also met with other North Carolina families that have been prevented from adopting orphaned children due to the DRC’s suspension.