campaign finance irregularities

Harris unloads both barrels on Tillis for pay-to-play politics

And it's actually a legitimate complaint:

But one of his leading challengers, Rev. Mark Harris, is hoping to stir things up and is planning to repeatedly criticize Tillis's decision to remain as House Republican leader while running for the Senate. Tillis is able to raise money for his Senate campaign from lobbyists with interests before the state's General Assembly, but it's illegal to raise such funds for his state legislative campaigns. Framing the speaker's conduct as "pay to play," Harris suggested the activity was unethical.

"It would have been better judgment for him to step down as speaker. It opens the door for questions of ethics to be raised," Harris told National Journal, arguing that it could become a glaring vulnerability if Tillis wins the GOP nomination against Sen. Kay Hagan. "If I had one thing to do differently [in the campaign], I would have demanded he step down as speaker in October."

Tillis is blatantly taking advantage of a loophole in our campaign finance/lobbying laws by doing this, and it should be an issue for voters (both Primary and General) to contemplate. And unless I missed it somehow, our NC reporters have left this issue alone. Maybe he isn't "breaking the law" in the classic sense, but it is definitely newsworthy.

Another shadowy Super PAC goes after Kay Hagan

It's getting hard to keep up with them:

Our America, a Super PAC based in North Carolina, has announced that it has purchased a number of billboards that will highlight Senator Kay Hagan's continued refusals to back up her promises with regard to Obamacare. "On more than 20 occasions, Senator Hagan has stated that she will protect the rights of citizens to keep their health plan and to see the doctors of their choice", said Allison Milbridge, spokesperson for Our America.

Our America is working in several different states with a goal of returning Republican majority to the Senate. The group is preparing to release this commercial (http://www.ouramericaaction.com) in Minnesota targeting Senator Al Franken, the actual deciding vote in the passage of Obamacare.

Maybe you can find something more on Allison Milbridge, but I couldn't. And it looks like this is another case where the "Headquarters" is actually a UPS Store. Which should be a serious red flag for the NC BOE, but apparently not.

Pay-to-play politics Tillis-style

You scratch my back, I'll give you some television time:

It was the spring of 2013, and lawmakers were busy drafting more than 1,700 bills, including a handful that had big implications for companies that manage homeowners associations and condominiums. At the same time, a group called Alliance for Better Communities, which is bankrolled by property management companies, gave four donations totaling $51,000 to a nonprofit closely tied to Republican state House leaders.

There's a lot more to this sordid tale, but (as is almost always the case) the people slinging money around were able to do so legally. Proving once again, there's often a huge difference between "legal" and "ethical."

Art Pope & Koch Brothers wealthy political bullies

The rumors of their influence are greatly underestimated:

We saw this with the 19th century robber barons and in the 1930’s with the liberty league. Each generation has had to deal with these bullies. In the modern era, they are the Koch brothers and their wealthy allies, including North Carolina’s Art Pope. Spending millions of dollars, America’s 21st century bullies have reshaped the Republican Party and are threatening representative democracy.

Since 2010, in North Carolina, conservative businessman Art Pope has spent millions moving the state government to the right. Now, for the first time since reconstruction, Republicans control the governorship and the legislature. One observer noted, “Democrats running for office in North Carolina are running against Art Pope.”

This is one big reason why Democrats (both elected and activists) need to support campaign finance reform, instead of trying to "play the game" of big money with their Republican opposition. Aside from a handful of progressive businessmen, most of the wealthy would prefer to continue the shift of the nation's wealth upwards and preserve their dominance of our public policy debates, and the GOP gives them exactly that. The longer we put that off, the more influential these modern-day robber barons become:

The Puppetmaster attempts to alter history in editorial

Trying to sweep away the money trail:

I and my company have never given money to super PACs, and none of the organizations I worked with in 2010 did any election campaigning under Citizens United.

It was the voters, not Citizens United, who changed the face of North Carolina government. No matter how many times the progressive left repeats its lies about North Carolina, it is not going to change the truth.

Like many of his faux-Libertarian "experts" who write about various issues, Pope uses a small truth to conceal a much greater lie. By adding that "under Citizens United" qualification at the end of the sentence, he hopes to convince readers that this never happened:

ISS stats on DAG McCrory's shadow PAC Renew NC

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, spends money on political ads like a duck, it's a f$$king duck:

As a so-called "social welfare" 501(c)(4) nonprofit, number of its donors the group, since renamed the Renew North Carolina Foundation, must publicly disclose: 0

Limits Renew NC must adhere to on contributions from lobbyists and corporations, which are banned from giving directly to candidates: 0

Date on which McCrory told reporters who questioned his participation in Renew NC's high-dollar events that "[e]verything we are doing is right regardless of the perception you are giving": 6/26/2013

This is another massive fail by the NC Board of Elections. The television ad which all of us (including the BOE) have watched for too many days now was obviously (and poorly) acted out by the Governor, meaning he is actively and directly involved with Renew North Carolina's efforts. In case that's not a clear enough description, here are two more words for the BOE to mull over: coordinated communications.

Old white men meet at old white men's club

So they can settle their debts without any riff-raff bothering them:

The N.C. Republican House Caucus Leadership fund will be raising money at the Carolina Country Club next month. The Aug. 27 shindig is billed as a reception honoring the GOP House caucus. Chipping in $10,000 will get you 12 tickets to the VIP and general receptions, with less expensive options available down to $150 single tickets.

In all fairness, the Club did just decide to finally allow one (Duke Energy) African-American to join its previously lily-white ranks:

AFP pushes the envelope on 501-C (4) restrictions

Jumping into the 2014 US Senate race in a most uncharitable fashion:

Americans for Prosperity is targeting Democrat U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in a new web ad about renewable energy at the same time the conservative organization touts Republican Thom Tillis on taxes. The timing of the two ad campaigns is coincidental, said Dallas Woodhouse, the group's North Carolina director. "They have nothing to do with each other," he said.

Pardon our French, but that is a steaming pile of bullshit. Of course they're related; having the ads run simultaneously will make it much more likely voters will be able to connect the two candidates down the road. And behavior like this is also a big reason why the IRS focused on conservative "charities" in their recent crackdown:

The Governor's gambling debts continue to pile up

And his newly-minted Board of Elections doesn't have a rug big enough to sweep this stuff under:

Sweepstakes operator William George says a longtime business partner asked him early last year to write a $4,000 check to the campaign of Pat McCrory, then the presumptive Republican nominee to become North Carolina's next governor. George, 67, said he handed his donation to Hagie, who he then saw add it to a stack of checks from other sweepstakes operators. Those checks and others are the subject of a sworn complaint to the N.C. Board of Elections, which is investigating whether some 2012 political donations from sweepstakes operators violated state campaign finance laws. The elections board was scheduled to meet by telephone Tuesday for the first time since the April 22 complaint was filed, and a new five-member board McCrory appointed takes office Wednesday.

This is gonna get real interesting, real fast. If this new board tries to dismiss the complaint, the story will go national, and quickly.

Hartsell plays fast and loose with campaign cash

And this time it's personal:

State Sen. Fletcher Hartsell Jr. spent nearly $100,000 of his campaign’s money in 2011 and 2012 paying off debts on at least 10 personal credit cards, according to new campaign finance reports. Hartsell, a lawyer and influential Republican from Concord, was unopposed in both the primary and general election campaigns.

First of all: should we even call it a campaign if you have no opposition? I think it should be formally termed a waltz, and it wouldn't hurt to have some Strauss playing in the background when one of these folks enters a room. Opposed or not, when the money just keeps coming in, you gotta spend it on something.

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