The State Bureau of Investigation is probing campaign donations provided to North Carolina politicians by the video sweepstakes industry. North Carolina Department of Justice spokeswoman Noelle Talley confirmed Wednesday the criminal investigation into possible public corruption, which she said began in 2013. Talley said the probe was prompted by requests from federal and state prosecutors in Raleigh.
In November, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt finalized a separate agreement in which Burns agreed to forfeit $3.5 million from bank accounts seized as part of the investigation. According to Pruitt, the money came directly from the "laundered proceeds" of Burns' sweepstakes software company, International Internet Technologies. Court filings reviewed by The Associated Press show $1 million of that forfeited money came from a checking account in the name of the Chase Burns Trust — the same account used to send the donations to political campaigns in North Carolina.
And what should not be overlooked: millions of those dollars Chase Burns raked in down in Florida were supposed to be used to assist veterans. This is one of the reasons I have obsessed (I admit it) over this issue, and will probably continue until the whole sordid mess gets cleaned up.
Financial, environmental and educational issues will be at the top of the agenda when the General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday in Raleigh. The so-called short session traditionally is reserved for tweaking the state budget. This year legislators also will use the session to deal with timely issues from coal ash to education policy.
A bipartisan committee has recommended capping privilege licenses, a tax on businesses, at $100. While that may be good news for some businesses, the city of Greensboro expects to lose $1.3 million in revenue if the General Assembly adopts the change.
First off, all Legislative committees are "bi-partisan" in nature, with the majority party filling the majority of seats in each. The only way you can (or should) call a measure bi-partisan is if some members of the minority party vote with the majority. Don't know if this is one of them, but I'm looking. Second, the privilege tax didn't become an issue until the courts blinked on sweepstakes cafes. And now that tax is one of the only ways cities and towns can keep Internet gambling casinos from popping up on every corner:
The Journal long has opposed video poker in North Carolina, arguing that it preys on the poor and is a particularly addictive form of gambling. But just as the doctor who realizes there is no known cure for a disease, we suggest a control therapy.
Once legalized, gaming should be taxed heavily, but not punitively so. The state should reach an agreement with the industry that will permit it to operate in a controlled and safe manner. Any regulatory body should include representatives of the industry, in a minority role, to assure that the industry feels that it has a stake in the regulation.
You're forgetting some very important factors: the Legislature has proven through its actions that it will exercise its authority over municipalities if they try to exert too much influence over the private sector, especially if it adversely effects some/one of their big campaign donors. And the Internet gambling concerns have thrown a lot of money at them in the last few years, ensuring at least silent support, if not outspoken. Republicans have also shown a proclivity for stacking regulatory boards with industry-friendly members, so they will more than "feel" they have a stake in some future body, they will control it. And they will locate their gambling establishments wherever they please, regardless of where you think they should go.
A checking account used last year to make $235,000 in donations to the campaigns of dozens of North Carolina politicians contained the laundered proceeds of a criminal gambling enterprise, according to Oklahoma's top law enforcement official.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt finalized an agreement last month in which Burns agreed to forfeit $3.5 million from seized bank accounts. Court filings show $1 million of that forfeited money comes from the same checking account Burns used to send political donations to the campaigns of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger.
And several other candidates, including some Democrats. And a whopping $55,000 straight to the NC Republican Party, just a handful of days before the 2012 election. Hat-tip to WRAL for keeping tabs on this. Somebody has to.
Between January 2008 and March 2012, IIT has received over $68.6 million into this account from the AVOTW Enterprise gambling operation. IIT also received funds from North Carolina and South Carolina Internet Cafes (which some of these are being operated by the same members of the AVOTW Enterprise previously mentioned in your affiants Master Affidavit) and other states which totaled
approximately $98.4 million through March 2012.
Just to refresh your memory, the Allied Veterans operation in Florida was one of the biggest ripoffs in the name of helping veterans that has ever been perpetrated. The sheer volume of money and money-laundering transactions is staggering, and over $400,000 of those ill-gotten gains ended up in the campaign coffers of the NC GOP, including that of the now Governor McCrory. And considering there are direct ties between McCrory and Burns, the state BOE should have been all over this. And the NC DOJ might be interested in these fellows, as well:
In selecting an elections chairman, McCrory chose someone both experienced and with conservative credentials. Josh Howard, 39, a Raleigh attorney, was a federal prosecutor in Eastern North Carolina, heading the white-collar crimes section...Howard has said he prefers that decisions be made by local election boards. But he was the crucial vote in overturning the Pasquotank decision.
All of this suggests a level of professionalism that will be sorely tested as the new voter laws – which require photo IDs and cut a week from early voting – are put into effect. Whether the new Republican board will be equally as willing to investigate Republicans may be tested in the years ahead.
It's already been tested, and they failed miserably. And regardless of the other board members' responsibility in that failure, Josh Howard's refusal to explore the ties between Chase Burns' massive fraud of veterans in Florida and a raging river of that money pouring into NC GOP campaign war chests is beyond inexcusable:
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.
Many of the sweepstakes checks were mailed to state lawmakers shortly before the November election, in envelopes printed with Moore & Van Allen's letterhead, postmarked from the firm's Charlotte ZIP code and containing the business card of firm lobbyist Tommy Sevier, according to documents obtained by the AP through a public records request. Sevier previously worked as a deputy chief of staff for Senate leader Berger and deputy chief of staff to then-U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes, current chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party.
Before you run off to the shower to wash the slime off, see where that money originated from:
“I wouldn’t know him if I saw him,” said McCrory, a Republican. “I think we got it (the checks) through the mail.” Four lobbyists at Moore & Van Allen, including a former spokesman for McCrory’s 2012 gubernatorial campaign, filed paperwork with the state Thursday severing ties with IIT.
You don't need to hire a private investigator to detect that connection. The spokesman for McCrory was also the spokesman for Chase Burns. Not only does that make McCrory's "plausible deniability" much less plausible, it also narrows the field on who asked for this money back in November:
Submitted by scharrison on Sat, 12/29/2012 - 1:36pm
As seen on Twitter:
NCSweepstakes 10:42am via Safari on iOS
Trying to keep 1,000's employed during the holidays and revenue flowing to local governments. #NCGov #NCPol #NCGA newsobserver.com/2012/12/28/256…
On the employment angle, I'd say preserving the incomes of tens of thousands, so that money can be spent on family needs instead of compulsive wealth drain, is a tradeoff with which I'd have no problem. And as far as local governments, do you think they really want this in their communities? The main purpose behind taxes and license fees is to exert some form of control, so they won't be overran with sweepstakes parlors on every corner.
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