Friday, January 30, 2015

Jobs? Naw. Gotta Get Women Under Control First

The Republican paint-strippers in the NC General Assembly are not happy with the new abortion clinic rules put out by the McCrory administration a couple of months ago. Their legislative plan had been to impose such strict rules that most abortion clinics would have to close, but the writing of new rules went to Aldona Wos's Health & Human Services department, which suddenly became all squishy and moderate on the topic of women's rights.

The new clinic rules -- turns out -- wouldn't force the closing of any clinics.

The hard right in the General Assembly ain't taking that lying down. They say that they'll now write a new law with their own regulations. With Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, who intends to end abortion forever for everyone, no matter what, you can guess what's coming down that pike.

The priorities of the Raleigh Republicans: punish gays and sexually active women, keep people who don't agree with them away from the polls, and make sure the poor know their place.

Their notion of getting more jobs into the state seems confined to the mortuary industry.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dan Soucek Hops on the Gay Discrimination Express

Dan Soucek wasted no time jumping on as a cosponsor of S2, the "Gay Discrimination Enablement Act of 2015," introduced yesterday by Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.

Yup, Senator Soucek always has and probably always will display a consuming contempt for gay people. That and private schools are his two issues.

Thom Tillis Begins His Senate Career with Whining

From his new seat on the Judiciary Committee yesterday, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis took time out of interrogating Attorney General-designee Loretta Lynch to complain that the Department of Justice had sued him (so far, successfully) and others over the restrictive North Carolina omnibus elections law.

Why you pickin' on li'l ole me, Tillis asked, while there's hardened criminals in never every corporate boardroom, people that gave me huge sums of campaign cash. (Okay, I made up the second part of that sentence, but Thom gave me the opening!)

To recap what Thom stage-managed through the NC General Assembly and its current legal status:
A federal appeals court temporarily struck down portions of the state law this past October, ruling that there was "no doubt" that some of its measures would effectively disenfranchise minority voters and that the legislation "stripped away" the rights of North Carolinians. But the Supreme Court blocked that ruling because it would have changed the state's voting procedures too close to the November election. The long-term status of the North Carolina law is still to be decided, as a full trial on the law's merits has not yet taken place.
But, really, Thom whined, why would we need the courts to decide if voters were being deliberately targeted when you have my solemn word that we had no such agenda in mind. Cross my heart and hope to die.

This man is on the Judiciary Committee and doesn't seem to understand what the judiciary is for.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brace Yourself, People!

The Republican-dominated General Assembly of North Carolina reconvenes at noon today, and the trouble will start at approximately 12:01 p.m.

Expect a flurry of The Cray-Cray, starting with Rep. Skip Stam's artfully titled "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which is really a license to discriminate against The Gay, if you feel so led by whatever god you're genuflecting to this week. It's no big secret that Stam's proposed law is meant "to ensure that private business owners have the right to refuse service to customers on the basis of their religious faith."

Read more here:
Stam has long been the leading jihadist for theocracy in the General Assembly, a hardliner on women's abortion rights, and he intends to be gay people's biggest nightmare as well as an Olympic generator of lawsuits and taxpayer-funded lawyer fees.

The N.C. Values Coalition, led by the helmet-haired Tami Fitzgerald, is holding a private "briefing" on the new legislation for lawmakers this afternoon. The public and the press ... don't even try to get in.

Not to be out-done, NC Senate dictator Phil Berger "said last fall that he plans legislation that would allow magistrates and registers of deeds to refuse to participate in same-sex marriages if it goes against their religious beliefs."

Because -- you dull-witted citizens out there! -- the biggest threat to North Carolina and the "problem" that outweighs every other issue facing us in 2015 is The Gay and the shuddering thought that they can now marry. And eat chicken-'n-dumplings in your sacred restaurant.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The ineffable Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer

NC Cities, Get Ready: Wealth Redistribution, the GOP Way

Harry Brown
Senator Harry Brown of Jones and Onslow counties is going to propose a redistribution of sales taxes statewide that suggests he was paying attention to how former Watauga County Commission Chair Nathan Miller punished the Town of Boone, which he hated.

Harry Brown told Mark Binker of WRAL that he thought it was unfair that urban counties like Wake raised a lot of money in sales taxes while rural counties, like the ones he represents, don't raise a lot of money in sales taxes. Therefore, Senator Brown said, the General Assembly should take from the wealthy and give to the poor.

"...Wealthier counties are getting wealthier, and the poorer counties are getting poorer," Brown told Binker, as though he'd just stumbled on an amazing revelation. 

Gosh, Senator. Welcome to Republican economics! Isn't this what you guys have always been striving for?

We're certainly in favor of bringing jobs back to rural areas and for making sure that schools are as equipped to educate children in Jones County as they are in Wake County. But once again crippling economic development in the state's cities so that rural areas are better off is not the way to go.

The politics of envy ain't the path to prosperity.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Crazy No More?

The other day Tom Fetzer, a longtime GOP consultant, fundraiser-turned-lobbyist, and former chair of the NC GOP, commented that he thought that 2015 in the NC General Assembly could generate "perhaps a more normal agenda for the legislature on more traditional issues," like jobs and the economy.

"More normal." More normal, as in not abnormal? More normal, as in not warped by too much power and too little humanity? As in, "we knocked down the building. Now it's time to neatly stack the bricks"?

So are we to understand that the new Republican majority in the General Assembly did all the damage they ever intended between 2011 and 2014 -- got that out of their system -- and are now ready to make a thousand flowers bloom? Nothing else to dismantle, strangle, deprive of oxygen? Just the reaping of the blessings now, letting the new conservative utopia grow great, with the benevolent rich teaching us peons the beauty of austerity and giving us occasional part-time work waxing their Mercedes?

That would be "more normal," right?

Or is it the new normal, sort of like the extremes of weather that have become routine because of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Certainly, the Raleigh Republicans have spewed tons of pollution into our political atmosphere during the last four years. They've breathed their own emanations and convinced themselves that the poor will accept whatever they dish out, that the unemployed will accept being treated like cur dogs, that teachers will accept crumbs, that voters will accept every attempt to make voting more difficult.

We're not about to believe that the clown college has removed its make-up, retired its fright-wigs. Unless, of course, they really are nervous about another election cycle coming in 2016, with their patsy governor threatened and a turn-out that may overwhelm them.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Your NC Gen'l Assembly at Work: Huge Bonuses for Capitol Staffers

Article in this a.m.'s News&Observer about continuing fallout from the General Assembly's axing of pay bonuses for public school teachers, with this addendum: Republican staffers are getting huge bonuses:
Since 1988, lawmakers have given their staff longevity pay that amounts to as much as 19.2 percent of their salaries. Those bonuses also start much earlier. At five years of service, staffers start earning the bonus pay, at a 4.8 percent rate that’s better than most state employees will ever see.
Gerry Cohen, who retired in August as special counsel to the legislature and is now a lobbyist, was the top paid employee in the fiscal year that ended June 30, earning a $196,400 salary. The $37,700 in bonus pay brought his compensation to more than $234,000.
Cohen spent 37 years on the legislature’s staff. He is one of 49 legislative employees who earned $10,000 or more in longevity pay in the last fiscal year, legislative records show. The average pay for those employees was $105,500, not including the longevity pay. That average climbs to $123,600 with it.
Providing longevity pay for roughly 300 of the nearly 700 legislative staffers costs far less than giving it to teachers. Lawmakers spent $1.6 million on longevity pay for their employees in the last fiscal year, compared with the $60 million in longevity pay that was rolled into teachers’ base pay. The average longevity pay for full-time legislative staffers was $7,090.
State Sen. Majority Leader Harry Brown, a Jacksonville Republican, noted that Republicans weren’t in charge when the longevity pay was put in place for staff. He said it might be worth taking a look at, but he otherwise defended it as a tool to keep valued employees.
It's all about feathering the right nests.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Renee Ellmers, Your Door Prize Is Almost Ready!

Jim Duncan
Hattip: Roll Call

PITTSBORO, N.C. -- Rep. Renee Ellmers, the North Carolina Republican who led the charge to pull the House GOP’s 20-week abortion ban bill this week, could have a bruising primary from the conservative wing of her party in 2016.

Jim Duncan, the chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party, is mulling a bid against Ellmers, according to multiple GOP sources in the Tar Heel State.

Duncan could not immediately be reached for comment. But GOP operatives say Duncan was looking at a primary challenge against Ellmers before this week. Operatives say Thursday’s events — in which a group of anti-abortion protesters in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life demonstrated outside her Longworth office — could push Duncan toward entering a primary race.

Ellmers already started the 2016 cycle with a couple cracks in her hold on the seat.

In 2014, local activists were angry over her support for giving undocumented immigrants earned legal work status, and she received a primary challenge. She defeated Frank Roche, a radio host whom Republicans called a weak and underfunded challenger, with 58 percent of the vote.

Republicans say Duncan, a retired businessman who ran a computer disaster recovery company, is a more serious candidate than Roche. Duncan has better ties to the conservative base in the district, both because of his role as chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party and as a co-founder of the Coalition for American Principles, a group that seeks to elect Republicans in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Raleigh Republicans Mismanage State Into a Budget Deficit

The current six-month revenue shortfall in North Carolina: $199.2 million, half-way into the budget year.

Raleigh Republicans are totally cool with it. Not to worry. No sweat. Not a big deal. Nothing to see here.

But what if the deficit gets worse, considerably worse, in the next six months? "Asked about that last week, Senate leader Phil Berger said he doesn’t want to get into hypotheticals" (The Daily Reflector).

We bet he doesn't. Instead, he wants to pivot to the obligatory bashing of prior Democratic regimes (always a good move) and to vague promises that the Lord will probably -- might or for sure will -- provide: “We were able to deal with a $2.5 billion shortfall,” he said, referring to 2011. “If we end up with a situation where we are short from projections, we’ll manage, and we’ll manage in a way that will continue to move North Carolina in the right direction, continue to move North Carolina forward.”

Forward, North Carolina!

At least some people -- the very rich and large corporations -- are getting very forward with the new Republican flat tax in North Carolina. The rest of us ... not so much, especially school teachers, university employees, the long-term unemployed, people who used to work in the NC film industry, and numerous others who had the bad judgment not to hire expensive lobbyists.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How Extreme Is the New Anti-Abortion Bill in the U.S. House?

So extreme that even NC Rep. Renee Ellmers opposes it. Ellmers, in fact, is credited with leading a revolt of Republican women against the bill. Without the votes to pass it, the Republican leadership in the U.S. House pulled the bill last night. (Oh, it'll come back eventually, my brethren. Republicans love their rituals.)

The vote was supposed to happen today to coincide with the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It was all show, of course, since any of the far right's anti-abortion legislation has zero chance of becoming law until Rick Santorum sits in the Oval Office.

But ... Ellmers? Reportedly, she was upset over the rape provisions in the bill, and she rallied other Republican women to her side. (No mention of Virginia Foxx in any of the reporting, but you know she's not going to buck the Catholic hierarchy, let alone the bulls in Congress.)

The bill was creatively named the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act." (Oh Republicans!) It would ban abortions after 20 weeks, even in cases of rape, unless the mother filed a police report.

The fury against Ellmers by Tea Partiers, and others determined to legislate women into becoming involuntary breeders, has already erupted. (Which is precisely why you won't see Virginia Foxx taking a public stance on the bullshit being shoveled by her male colleagues.)

Raleigh News&Observer is reporting that Ellmers couldn't take the heat from the pro-lifers. So much for that profile in courage!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Virginia Foxx Pants

Some things about the State of the Union ... you just couldn't make up. Virginia Foxx's fame-whore rush to get the president's autograph, despite what he stands for as opposed to what she stands for, despite what he just said in that speech, despite the embarrassing optics of her fawning ... well, it's cringe-worthy.

Even more gag-inducing ("Gag me with a dipper, y'all!") was Joni Ernst's #breadbag brag that she knows everything there is to know about being poor, so y'all should just cheer up about your low wages 'n' stuff, because she's made it to the U.S. Senate!

Someone on Facebook observed that fake poverty screams as loudly as does a fake Southern accent.

As does the hypocrisy of the Lady in Blue.

Yep. She pours acid out of that side of her mouth that isn't simultaneously drooling. From Carolina Public Press:
Rep. Virginia Foxx, who represents a portion of Western North Carolina in the state’s 5th Congressional District, slammed the president’s speech, declaring him “mired in the past.”
“The American people spoke loud and clear in November, but it’s evident from tonight’s State of the Union that President Obama wasn’t listening,” Foxx said in a news release. “Despite a rejection of his policies at the ballot box, the president continues to propose outdated, Washington-centered ideas that simply don’t work.”
Foxx, who was elected to a sixth term last year, decried the president’s proposals on tax reform and higher education, calling the latter a “top-down federal government boondoggle.”
Still, the congresswoman thought highly enough of Obama to ask for what appeared to be an autograph on the floor following his address, causing a buzz among social media users who spotted her on TV.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NC Republicans to Hollywood: Drop Dead

The axing of North Carolina's film incentive program is costing us jobs, and more than just the jobs for the crews and the support staffs, it's costing small businesses BIG TIME.

Just announced: the Fox television production of "Sleepy Hollow" has announced that it will move to Atlanta for its third season (assuming it has a third season).

Where Hollywood goes for its on-location filming, local small businesses benefit. When "The Winter People" filmed in Avery County back in the 1980s, local antiques dealers sold props to the production. The making of Michael Mann's epic, "Last of the Mohicans," in the 1990s benefited more antiques dealers as well as hundreds of local people who worked as extras.

Here's a partial list of small businesses which profit from local film production:
Printers and Sign Manufacturers
Florists/Plants sales
Restaurants and Caterers
Window Coverings
Event Rental Services (tents, etc.)
Camera and Lighting Equipment
Heavy Machinery
Car/Van Rentals
Security and Locksmiths
Antique Dealers
Marine Services
Mobile Restrooms
Aerial Services
Hollywood deals in cash money and generally doesn't waste time haggling. But the economic geniuses in the NC General Assembly wanted Hollywood gone. And it's going.

Gee, thanks, Governor McCrory, for signing that bullshit legislation.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tom Ross for U.S. Senate?

Thomas Mills started a little boomlet touting Tom Ross as the Democratic candidate to take on Dick Burr for the U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

Ross was fired as President of the University of North Carolina system on Friday in what is emerging as the most nakedly political firing of recent history. Board of Governor members -- Republicans, mostly -- made the decision, but it was the Board Chair, Republican John Fennebresque, who stumbled around at the subsequent press conference -- the most bizarre press conference you'll ever see -- saying how wonderful Tom Ross's leadership has been, but, we -- uh -- need his wonderfulness gone.

Politically, powerful Republican members of the NC General Assembly apparently wanted Ross out. So they could have someone more to their ideological liking in? Well, duh. But will it be Art Pope, who apparently has been overheard to say he'd like the job? If so, expect cloudy weather with a threat of shit-storms.

But back to the question at hand ... Tom Ross for U.S. Senate?

Ross has spent most of his life in academic settings and in academic pursuits, managing academics. That might automatically qualify him as a superior "hand" at handling hungry crocodiles. But with all due respect, I haven't found academics particularly ready for the prime time of high-level politics, especially at that national level, where some political experience might be considered pretty essential.

The late, great Paul Wellstone, excepted -- the exception which proves the rule.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Duane Powell, Jan. 17, 2015, in the Raleigh News&Observer.

You might be forgiven for failing to recognize Franklin Graham in the Templar Knights outfit.

When Hypocrites Write Their Hypocrisy Into Law: House Bill H3

Chuck McGrady
The "title" of a bill stamped as "introduced" in the NC House on January 4 by Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville: "AN ACT TO AMEND THE NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION TO PROHIBIT CONDEMNATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY EXCEPT FOR A PUBLIC USE...."

The NC Constitution used to say "except for a public good." That's just the beginning of the trouble.

What else: Sec. 4(a)(1), which grants the power of condemnation for certain uses. It's proposed to amend it this way: "Corporations, bodies politic or persons have the power of eminent domain for the construction of ... [etc. etc.] ...  facilities related to the distribution of natural gas [language added], and pipelines or mains originating in North Carolina for the transportation of petroleum products, coal, natural gas [language added], limestone or minerals.

The North Carolina constitution is being rewritten by Rep. McGrady (Rep. Jonathan Jordan is a co-sponsor) for the benefit of big gas corporations, which is to say in this day and age, frackers. Got that? Republicans are all for private property rights, except that they're even more for smoothing the way for certain corporate prospectors, who want our natural resources.

Republicans propose writing their allegiance to the One Percent directly into the Constitution: big gas companies will have the right of condemnation. What could possibly go wrong with this picture?

And there's also this, in the language of H3: 
SECTION 5. G.S. 40A-3 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: Connection of Customers. – For the public use, private condemnors, local public
condemnors, and other public condemnors in subsections (a), (b), (b1), and (c) of this section shall possess the power of eminent domain and may acquire by purchase, gift, or condemnation any property for the connection of any customer or customers."
Is it becoming clear to you yet? Do you get the drift here?

It's not just hypocrisy to talk big about private property rights while giving the right of condemnation away for somebody's private big bucks. It's the corruption of the public process itself. 


[Incidentally, Rep. McGrady is sometimes known as "Doesn't-Look-Like-a-Collaborative-Effort" McGrady and has some great protective coating: He's a former national Sierra Club president.]

Friday, January 16, 2015

When "Partner" Is Just a "Working Title"

In an editorial today, Gov. Pat McCrory's hometown paper asks, "Was Pat McCrory fibbing then, or is he fibbing now?"
For years, McCrory was declared a partner in his brother’s firm. But on state ethics forms, the governor claimed he was merely a consultant, not a partner. There’s a big difference.
It's important that you understand the difference, even though McCrory himself doesn't want you to notice. ProgressNC, which first uncovered the discrepancy, explains:
RALEIGH -- In response to questions raised in the 54-page ethics complaint Progress NC Action filed on Monday, Gov. McCrory has refused to provide a clear explanation of his work relationship with McCrory & Company. Gov. McCrory keeps changing his story when asked what his role at McCrory & Co. was. His true job title is key to ethical disclosure requirements.
Was McCrory a “partner?” Federal Securities and Exchange Commission filings by the companies and Kewaunee Scientific, made under penalty of perjury, as well as McCrory & Company’s own website, listed Gov. McCrory as a “partner.” 
Or was McCrory only a “consultant?” On Gov. McCrory’s Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) filings disclosing income from McCrory & Company, the governor lists himself as a “consultant.” In listing himself as only a “consultant,” McCrory does not have to disclose if McCrory & Co. has material business dealings with the state.
Or was McCrory a staff employee? In response to a reporter’s question on Monday, Gov. McCrory stated that he was “paid staff for my brother.” (WRAL, 1/12/15)

Or was McCrory not really a partner, but a pretend partner? Later on Monday afternoon, the governor’s attorney, Bob Stephens, released a statement acknowledging Gov. McCrory was a partner of McCrory & Company, but that it was only a “working title.” (News and Observer, 1/12/15) 
If Gov. McCrory was a partner of McCrory & Company, or even if he was just an employee, as “paid staff” would imply, then he was required to disclose that on question 19A of his SEI. That would have forced Gov. McCrory to answer question 19B, which asks if any company listed in 19A has material business dealings with the state of North Carolina.
“Gov. McCrory’s contradictory statements continue an obvious pattern of a Governor who has been unable or unwilling to fully disclose his income, ownership interests, and conflicts of interest on public ethics forms as required by state law,” said Gerrick Brenner, Exec. Director of ProgressNC Action. “Intentionally omitting key information from state ethics forms would be a crime. Clearly, the State Ethics Commission should initiate an investigation to determine if these obvious omissions and discrepancies were deliberate."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Will the State Ethics Commission Do with the Complaint Against Gov. McCrory?

The ethics complaint filed against Gov. Pat McCrory on January 12 is not a trivial matter (the supporting exhibits run to hundreds of pages). The formal complaint, filed with the NC Ethics Commission, started a ticking clock that will run intensely through the months of January and February 2015 and perhaps well beyond. At the very least, the State Ethics Commission must, according to NC General Statutes 138A, complete a preliminary inquiry into the complaint against the governor by February 25.

A couple of things about the NC Ethics Commission, the body that will investigate the merits of the complaint:

1. Shortly after the first uproar last August over the governor's failure to list Duke Energy stock on his Statement of Economic Interest (SEI), the on-line access to SEIs suddenly went down without explanation. On-line access is still not available months later. If you go to the Ethics Commission website, the only statement is this: "Access to the Statements of Economic Interest through our website is temporarily unavailable. However, you may submit a written public records request...." "Temporarily unavailable"? That does not immediately suggest an interest in transparency, does it?

However, the governor's SEI and the amendments he's been forced to submit because of press questions about their accuracy are available as exhibits (link above) to the official complaint.

2. The membership of the Ethics Commission which will be passing judgment on the merits of the complaint: two of the seven members were actually appointed by Governor McCrory. There are two other seats that will be appointed by Tim Moore, the new Speaker of the NC House, and by Phil Berger, the President Pro-Tem of the NC Senate. Those two along with the governor's two will constitute a majority of four who owe their appointments either to the man being investigated or to his powerful allies in the General Assembly.

One of the other three commission members already sitting is Frances X. De Luca, president of Civitas Institute, who was also appointed by Phil Berger.

To which we say, "Hmmm."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

NC Justice System Itself Is Endangered

Sen. Dan Soucek
A significant piece by Doug Clark in the News & Record discusses the meddling by the NC General Assembly into our justice system, along with their meddling in issues of local control. Watauga and the Town of Boone have ample experience with both forms of meddling.

The General Assembly puts its top-down paw on cities and towns, and cities and towns must fight back with law suits over the taking of water systems, airports, and extraterritorial jurisdictions (the ETJ in Boone). But the General Assembly also attempted to pre-arrange the judicial system to guarantee that the courts wouldn't overturn their heavy-handed meddling: "Three-judge panels are now required at the trial court level when laws are subject to constitutional challenge."

Doug Clark asks, "Why use three judges when formerly one handled such cases? The legislature may assume the chief justice will appoint favorable panels, but I doubt straight-arrow [Chief Justice] Mark Martin is going to play political games."

A three-judge panel was appointed to hear Boone's suit against Dan Soucek's "local bill" to deprive Boone of its ETJ. Don't actually know who appointed those judges, but we do know that the ulterior motive in moving to three-judge panels did not exactly work out for the General Assembly in the case of Boone's ETJ. All three judges agreed that there is plentiful evidence to predict that Boone will prevail at trial, so they imposed an injunction stopping Soucek's power grab.

The top of the judicial hierarchy in NC raises its own type of power-grabbing, with a transparently partisan Supreme Court judge like Paul Newby winning election to the court in 2012 via tons of conservative pressure group money.

The bottom-line is that justice itself, and the ability of the victims of the General Assembly's overreach, are endangered in North Carolina.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The KKK in NC

The PBS documentary on the rise and subsequent fall of the KKK in North Carolina in the 1960s, which aired last night, is far more watchable than the book it's based on is readable. The 2012 book by sociologist David Cunningham, “Klansville U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan,” unfortunately reads like a book written by a sociologist. It's a tough, weary slog.

The vintage film clips of KKK rallies and speakers in the PBS documentary makes real and immediate what the book was a long way from illuminating.

There certainly are sociological lessons to learn about why the most "moderate" state in the South produced such a vibrant KKK. The place to start is probably the threat to the status quo that the entire Sixties represented to the general populace. Hippies, anti-war protesters, black power promoters, women's liberationists -- what a stew of individuals unwilling to sit at the back of real and imagined busses!

Scared the hell out of people prone to affiliate with groups like the KKK.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Gov. McCrory

Progress NC Action files formal ethics complaint against Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. McCrory has shown a clear pattern of deceptive omissions of income, stock ownership and even simple membership and affiliation with private corporate interests. With these omissions, McCrory has hidden clear conflicts of interest from the public. The State Ethics Commission should investigate.

RALEIGH - Progress North Carolina Action today filed a formal ethics complaint with the State Ethics Commission against Gov. Pat McCrory, detailing the governor’s clear pattern of deceptive omissions of income, stock ownership, and conflicts of interest between his private financial ties and his public duties as governor.

As numerous press reports have shown, Gov. McCrory has omitted key financial information from his Statements of Economic Interest in several places:

  1. McCrory initially failed to accurately disclose ownership of more than $10,000 in Duke Energy Stock on his 2008 and 2014 Statement of Economic Interest (SEI).
  2. McCrory failed to disclose more than $185,000 of income from dividends and director fees from on his 2014 SEI.
  3. McCrory failed to even disclose membership on the board of directors of on his 2013 SEI.’s mortgage business is regulated by the state.
The 50-page ethics complaint also details other clear discrepancies between public documents of other private firms and McCrory’s ethics disclosure forms. Specifically, Gov. McCrory has described himself as a “consultant” to the firm McCrory & Co., a sales consulting firm founded by McCrory’s brother, Phil McCrory.  But public documents filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission describe Gov. McCrory as a “partner” at McCrory & Co. McCrory’s & Co.’s own website and press releases have identified Gov. McCrory as a “partner” of the firm. In describing himself as only a “consultant,” McCrory has avoided the requirement to disclose that McCrory & Co. has material business dealings with the state of North Carolina. Such a disclosure would acknowledge a clear conflict of interest. McCrory & Co. has a number of clients who have government contracts with the state of North Carolina. At least one of those clients, Bentley Systems, has paid Gov. McCrory directly and contributed over $500,000 to the Republican Governor’s Association to help elect McCrory as Governor.

“A governor could be forgiven for one mistaken omission on an ethics form, but McCrory’s clear pattern of omitting key financial information reveals a public official who is either recklessly careless with the value of government transparency, or one who is intentionally hiding private financial ties and conflicts of interest,” said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress NC Action.

Intentionally failing to disclose financial interests on Statements of Economic Interest is a felony crime. Just as troubling, Gov. McCrory’s reaction to reports of his erroneous ethics forms has been to attack the media with claims of false reporting and to offer comments which themselves are patently false.

“I followed all the instructions on the questionnaires,” McCrory told WSOC-TV in Charlotte on Dec. 17, 2014.

“We did nothing improper. We did nothing unethical. We followed all the rules of North Carolina,” McCrory told WRAL-TV in Raleigh on Dec. 18, 2014. (Video of those soundbites can be found at

But the facts fly in the face of these comments:

  1. The SEI clearly requires officials to disclose sources of income of more than $5,000, yet McCrory omitted more than $185,000 in payments from in 2013. In fact, McCrory received more money from in 2013 than his salary as governor.
  2. McCrory had to amend his 2014 SEI twice because he failed to disclose ownership of  Duke Energy stock after Duke Energy’s coal ash spill into the Dan River.
  3. The SEI clearly asks if the governor is a board member of a private company. On his 2013 SEI, McCrory fails to disclose he is a board member of A follow-up question asks if the business is regulated by the state.’s mortgage business is regulated by the NC Banking Commission. Gov. McCrory has appointed a majority of the members of the Banking Commission.
“Attacking the media and the messengers will not change the clear facts that Gov. McCrory has repeatedly failed to disclose key financial ties,” said Brenner. “Are these repeated omissions simply incompetence, or are they part of a scheme to hide income and conflicts of interest? An investigation by the State Ethics Commission will hopefully help to get to the bottom of this reckless disregard for government transparency.”

The Reason Virginia Foxx Gave Glenn Grothman $5,000?

If you recall, newly elected Wisconsin Congressman Glenn Grothman attracted the negative attention of the Federal Elections Commission for accepting an illegal $5,000 contribution from Congresswoman Virginia Foxx.

Clearly, his pecksniffian disdain for the poor (see below) makes him Virginia Foxx's blood brother! No way is she NOT gonna reward that moral superiority.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Foxx: Cut My Taxes, But Don't Even THINK of Providing an Education for People Who Need It

Virginia Foxx -- bless her heart! -- took time off from measuring for the curtains in her new mansion on Hwy 105 to lecture President Obama that there's no way in hell that she'd ever support providing free community college education for all.

Her priorities are incredibly straight and courageously simplistic: the government should do everything in its power to increase her wealth and privilege but nothing whatsoever for anybody else.

Those buffets she loves to filch from and stuff into her over-size pocket book: It's all for her, none for you! Just you keep that in mind.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

McCrory Fantasizes That He's The Guv, and Stuff

Scanning Talking Points Memo this a.m., this caught my eye:
North Carolina Giving In TooIt looks like North Carolina, under unified GOP control, will likely be next to give up the ghost on Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
— Josh Marshall
 Not so fast there, Josh. You're perhaps unduly impressed that our Guv had an Oval Office meeting with President Obama yesterday and that McCrory is making gurgling sounds about joining in on Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. It's almost like you think McCrory has influence in this state.

No matter how "soft" on Obamacare Gov. Squishy has become, he's not going to be allowed to do anything that Phil Berger doesn't want him doing: "Senate leader Phil Berger, whose chamber initiated the move last year to reject Medicaid expansion, has not changed his position" (N&O).

Berger has McCrory's testicles locked in his bedside table, along with his .38. I'm sure that he'd also like get hold of The Guv's windpipe too.

Meadows & Jones Don't Support Boehner

The attractively orange-hued John Boehner was reelected as Speaker of the U.S. House yesterday, though two North Carolina Republicans voted against him -- Mark Meadows of the 11th and Walter Jones of the 3rd congressional districts

Meadows is the Tea Party "architect" of the 2013 government shutdown and is clearly also willing to shut off John Boehner's water. He's twice as "principled" as Virginia Foxx, who is a notorious toady to the power-structure.

Walter Jones is the former Democrat who often enjoys twisting Republican titty, so what did he have to lose? Jones supports raising the minimum wage, so he's already well outside the mainstream of the contemporary Republican Party.

Apparently, Meadows is completely unafraid of getting a dead fish in his mail slot.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

McCrory: "I Gotta Have Baksheesh for My Sweetums, Bra!"

Governor Pat McCrory, who is totally and completely competent for leading North Carolina into the 20th Century -- suck it, 19th Century! -- whined yesterday that if the General Assembly doesn't do something quickly, as in immediately, to give him dough so that he can blow in the ears of corporations like Mercedes-Benz USA, North Carolina will totally lose out on new country club members at your better venues.

Because, see, poor corporations like Mercedes-Benz USA cannot possibly pursue outrageous profits without subsidies from incredibly well-heeled and fabulously loaded states like North Carolina. We got the money to burn!

McCrory knows this because he worked for Duke Energy for 30 years, and he gets corporate culture!

Monday, January 05, 2015

McCrory Teaches Public Relations 101

The governor's counter-attack against the Associated Press is beginning to prove the old adage: the hit dog howls.

Today, at an economic forum in Durham, Michael Biesecker, the AP reporter who first outed McCrory on accepting over $180,000 from after he was sworn into office, again was asking the governor questions about that whole deal.

Don't you get it, Mr. Reporter? The Guv does not like to be asked questions, especially questions about dubious payments from less-than-honest sources.

Even with a new message czar, McCrory can't seem to control his mouth.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Is It April Fools Day Already?

Republicans couldn't wait until they officially have both houses of Congress later this month. They're bringing the cray cray now.

Louie Gohmert for House Speaker? We could only hope! Why shouldn't the delusional lead the denatured?

Meanwhile, it comes out that the third highest ranking House Republican, Steve Scalise, was guest speaker at a David Duke KKK-style meeting in Louisiana years ago. Squabs of a feather flocking together?

David Duke has now issued a threat that Republicans in Congress better leave BFF Scalise alone, or else Mr. Duke will spill the beans on the other members of Congress, from both parties, who've also previously licked Mr. Duke's boots.

Birds of a feather better not rile the roost ... or else!

We also enjoyed the National Organization for Marriage's headline declaring 2014 an "overwhelming victory" for "traditional marriage" across the country. Talk about delusional!

Meanwhile, Fox News has decided it needs to begin bashing Pope Francis, because Pope Francis is making the leaders of the Republican Party uncomfortable with some of his pronouncements about rich people and climate change. Some 78% of American Catholics have a favorable opinion of Pope Francis. Among the 22% of American Catholics who don't much care for the new Pontif ... presumably Paul Ryan and John Boehner and Virginia Foxx!

Friday, January 02, 2015

NC's New House Speaker: Dead-Ender or Dangerous Moderate

Trying to decipher what manner of creature Rep. Tim Moore of Kings Mountain may become as the new Speaker of the North Carolina House. He's replacing Thom Tillis, who's gone on to glory in the U.S. Senate. Our Magic 8 Ball is giving ambiguous answers on Mr. Moore.

On the one hand, there's Mr. Moore's long history of hostility toward gay rights:
Moore generated a firestorm while [in student government at] UNC-Chapel Hill ... when he attempted to prevent the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association from receiving student activity funds. Moore said he doesn't regret his actions at the time, which angered many on campus. [WNCN]
Furthermore, according to WNCN, Moore sez he'll be balls-to-the-walls in continuing to defend the indefensible Amendment One, which has already been struck down by not one but two NC Federal judges, not to mention the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. By all means, Mr. Moore, let's waste more taxpayer money on more lawyers to defend that particular piece of bigotry.

Magic 8 Ball sez, "You may rely on it."

On the other hand, Mr. Moore catches grief from a Tea Party screedster for selling out fellow Republicans in helping to scuttle a bill in 2013 that would have ended solar energy subsidies. Turns out that Mr. Moore may actually care more about jobs in his district than he does Civitas doctrine on alternative energy: "Tim Moore’s 'district is home to a $27 million plant that manufactures parts for solar farms.' ”

So is Mr. Moore "soft" on a progressive issue like "sustainability"? Magic 8 Ball sez, "Ask again later."

Happy New Year From the Good Hands People in the NC General Assembly!

New Republican laws that went into effect yesterday seem actually designed to lose jobs in North Carolina while transferring more wealth to the corporations.

The "restructuring" of movie incentives is already sending TV and film shoots into other states, like deepest Georgia, according to WRAL.

While the corporate tax rate is dropping from 6% to 5% as of yesterday, the Raleigh honorables shifted more of the tax burden to the rest of us in the form of a new fuel tax on vehicles that run on natural gas. Gee, thanks! Tax collections in the state are already $190 million "short of projections as of December," and since the richest among us will pay less, your average Joe Blow will get stuck with the slack.

All of us get stuck.