Saturday, October 31, 2015

McCrory Intervened in "Pay-to-Play" Corruption

From reporting today by the Raleigh News & Observer:
Graeme Keith Sr., a Charlotte developer and retired banker, pursued private maintenance contracts in state prisons since 1999. Keith’s contracts at two prisons were set to expire Dec. 31, 2014; a third would have ended four months later. According to a Department of Public Safety memo, Keith told prison officials and McCrory that “he had been working on this project ‘private prison maintenance’ for over ten (10) years and during that time had given a lot of money to candidates running for public office and it was now time for him to get something in return.”
The Keith Corp. got the contract extension after McCrory intervened with prison officials. We call that bribery and public corruption. Along with this bottom-line: privatization of prison maintenance "did not lead to significant savings."

Pals in matching sweaters: McCrory, far left,
 hanging onto Graeme Keith Sr.
To his credit, Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry opposed The Guv on the contract extension, saying that "private maintenance wasn’t saving money and posed a greater security risk."

Keeping his bases covered, Keith was also a big contributor to leading Democratic candidates when they ran the joint.

The FBI is now investigating and interviewing the people involved in this piece of political bilge.

Friday, October 30, 2015

UNC Board of Governors Continue Their Pattern of Violating Open Meeting Laws

Today, a 5-hour meeting of the Board of Governors, most of it conducted behind closed doors, appears to have violated the state's open meeting laws. The board reportedly took votes in secret that are supposed to be done in the light of day.

This only continues what has become a pattern for the BOG, outlined in some detail by WRAL reporter Mark Binker.

UNC BOG gave raises to two different university chancellors but refused to say who or how much of a raise ... in the same year that most faculty received nothing.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Democrats File Ethics Complaint Against Rep. Mark Meadows

Rep. Mark Meadows, king of government shutdowns in the NC-11, is the target of a requested government ethics investigation because of his toleration of a woman-pawwing chief of staff and because of eventual excessive severance payments to that chief of staff when he left Meadows' employment and moved his woman-pawwing back to Hayesville.

The American Democracy Legal Fund made its request for investigation to the Office of Congressional Ethics, and -- proving that he is in fact a rocket scientist -- Meadows issued a statement saying the charge is "politically motivated."

[chortle, snort]

Wonder what Meadows said when a conservative group previously questioned the severance pay and vacation pay that the woman-pawwing chief of staff scarfed up after he left the job in May. He was paid through August for doing nothing.

Asheville Citizen-Times: "Politico reported the severance pay violated House rules on compensation .... Rules say congressional staffers can only be paid for work done during the month of a payment, but also outline procedures for one-time payments to staffers like bonuses for special accomplishments."

Hmmm. "Special accomplishments." Is there a loving cup given out for sexual harassment?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Impeccable Logic: Candidates That College Students Don't Vote For Don't Want College Students To Vote

Citizens of Elizabeth City, NC, in Pasquotank County are back in the news for the suppression of college voters -- or at least for the advocacy of suppressing college voters at Elizabeth City State University.

Taking the lead in talking trash about college-age voters in Elizabeth City was a two-time loser in Elizabeth City town elections, Lena Hill-Lawrence, who according to the Elizabeth City Advance has a pronounced "inability to connect with student voters."

Student voters in Elizabeth City have become a local force, as is their right under the U.S. Constitution, and the Pasquotank Board of Elections achieved its own local fame in 2013 when it tried to prevent an Elizabeth City college student from running for town office because he lived in a college dorm. The State Board of Elections slapped down that interpretation, and I believe that particular college student went on to win a seat on the town council.

At a recent civic meeting in Elizabeth City, Ms. Hill-Lawrence led a discussion about the need to bar local college students from voting in elections (especially, we assume, elections in which she's running). She was joined in her disdain by the NC House member who represents Pasquotank in the General Assembly, one Robert Steinberg, who was of course an enthusiastic supporter of the Omnibus Voter Suppression Act passed by him and his colleagues that will disallow college-issued photo I.D.s as acceptable identification to vote starting in 2016 (if a federal judge doesn't throw that requirement out).

Hill-Lawrence and Steinberg got to clucking in unison about the terrible influence that college students can have over local issues: they alleged that student voters don’t know who or what they’re voting for; students, through their votes, can have lasting impact on communities they may leave after only a few years; and students, because they aren’t familiar with the issues or candidates on the ballot, can be easily manipulated into voting for candidates or causes that “informed voters” would never support.

Yep. We've heard all that toxic condescension before, especially in Boone. The Supreme Court in 1979 heard it too, but the judges ruled nevertheless that college students have a constitutional right to vote where they go to school, and the senior Superior Court judge in Wake County last fall ruled that to collude in blocking that right was an unconstitutional infringement.

We've said it before: Instead of constantly trying to block young voters, candidates like Hill-Lawrence and Steinberg ought to be figuring a way to win their votes.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's a Dumb Bird That Fouls Its Own Nest

UNC Board of Governors Chair John Fennebresque has vacated his chair on that board because the whole place was full of shit, he said, and he couldn't take the smell any longer.

Raleigh GOP: Dead Set Against 'Pork Barrel' Until They Get Their Hands on the Pork

We're finally learning what powerful Republicans in the General Assembly slipped into the state budget bill to improve their own bragging rights with constituents. Some of it -- particularly what Speaker of the House Tim Moore scored for his home county of Cleveland -- has been known for some time.

But first ... the baseline for the rank hypocrisy:
"The Republican civic religion is that government is the problem and no problem can be solved by throwing tax dollars at it." [Gary Pearce]
Other that Speaker Moore's particular pork detailed at the link above, here are some more choice slabs of bacon doled out to districts where Republicans rule:
$1 million for the High Point downtown library "plaza project." Sen. Trudy Wade got language inserted into the budget bill: $1 million to be remitted to "a city with a population between 105,000 and 110,000 located in a county that changed its state poverty ranking last year." The only city that matches that description is High Point, and that's how the pork barrellers do it ... try to hide the recipient with highly specific language that only one town fits.
$100,000 for Lincolnton, which didn't ask for it, but it's home to Rep. Jason Saine, chair of the Finance Committee.
$100,000 for Reidsville, which didn't ask for it, but it's home to Clayton Somers, Speaker Moore's Chief of Staff.
$100,000 for Smithfield, which didn't ask for it (“It was a complete surprise,” said Sarah Edwards, director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corp.), hometown of Rep. Leo Daughtry, a longtime Republican legislator whom Speaker Moore appointed to lead two House committees.
$100,000 for Rutherfordton, where House Majority Leader Mike Hager gets to brag.
$100,000 for Dunn, where House Rules Chair David Lewis gets to strut.
$2 million for an airport tower at Jacksonville, inserted into the budget by chief Senate budget writer Harry Brown.
$10.96 million for a new middle and high school in Jones County, also inserted into the budget by Sen. Harry Brown, making him the Grand Master of Pork in the 2015 General Assembly.
I'm not opposed to any of these projects, and that's not the point. All are worthy expenditures of money, no doubt. It's the process that's corrupt to the core. Powerful people in high places skimming for their powerful friends. The odor of the hypocrisy is enough to gag a slaughterhouse worker. Republican legislators who whined in unison when others doled out the earmarks are now grabbing the cash while the grabbing's good.

And pretending that they're still pure like the driven snow.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

General Assembly Saying Goodbye to Wasp101

There was news yesterday that NC State Rep. Bryan Holloway of Stokes County was resigning from the General Assembly to take a lobbying job with the NC Schools Assn.

That wouldn't ordinarily be a head-turner, but Holloway has been the General Assembly's most photographed metrosexual and was very publicly outed a couple of years ago as the secret author of the Wasp101 blog, a preening, clothes-horsey sort of daily diary about making a good first impression.

The fact that Holloway felt at the time of his outing that he must deny the double-life only made the masquerade all the more interesting. Ivy Style appears to have been the first to ferret out the truth. Camel City Dispatch in Winston-Salem picked up the story and added good detail. Investigative journalist Greg Flynn also contributed.

Weird dude, this Bryan Holloway, both for his need to parade for the camera and for his continued denial of the truth. Now he's a lobbyist for education in this woe-begone, education-killing state.

Good luck with that.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Notorious B.O.G. "Train Wreck": Member Kotis Spills Some Beans

Marty Kotis, a member of the notorious Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, spoke on the record with the Greensboro News&Record and gave us some slight glimpse inside that politicized body.

1. BOG Chair John Fennebresque is a diva. According to Kotis, Fennebresque took it on himself to oust UNC President Tom Ross from the job, the event last January that has launched the current meshugaas. “John went in there hard-charging and, bam, it blew up from there. As it should. If I was a sitting president and someone came in there and did that, I think I’d be upset as well. The process was just completely flawed.”

Kotis was the lone "NO" vote on firing Ross last January.

Kotis can't answer why Ross was fired: “The reason we can’t answer is because we don’t know. John [Fennebresque] did this on his own. Only he can answer why."

2. The "search committee" for a new president -- three key Fennebresque allies on the BOG and Fennebresque himself -- took a dictatorial approach to the process and cut out everybody else.

3. Senate Bill 670, which would require the full BOG to review three finalists for the president’s job, was passed by the General Assembly (and still hasn't been signed by Governor Squishy), was introduced because of complaints coming from Kotis and other BOG members: "So when you run into a major roadblock, you’re going to vent to the people who appointed you and tell them that you can’t do your job .... This was not the legislature reaching down and trying to tell us what to do. This was us asking for help.”

4. Last Thursday, when Fennebresque suddenly called an emergency meeting of the BOG for Friday and members of the BOG learned that Margaret Spellings was the lone candidate being anointed by Fennebresque and his allies, Kotis and others on the BOG called for Fennebresque to resign, and Republicans in the General Assembly sent Fennebresque a sternly worded warning about violating S670 (which still hasn't been signed into law).

5. Fennebresque has called another meeting of the BOG for this morning, and everyone expects Spellings to be presented for a vote. Kotis and others are probably not going to be happy with that scenario: “You can’t sit back and just watch this train wreck occur over and over and over,” Kotis said Wednesday. “At some point you have to take action. You have to be willing to break ranks. You have to be willing to be a whistleblower. There are a lot of us feeling that now.”

UPDATE: 12:05 p.m.
Career politico Margaret Spellings elected President of the UNC system without a dissenting vote.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dallas Woodhouse, Carolina Rising, and Campaign Misdeeds in 2014

Oh Dallas, Dallas, Dallas!

The new executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, the ineffable Dallas Woodhouse, is now being implicated in some seriously wrong campaign shenanigans from last year, shit that should put him in deep doo-doo with the IRS.

As one of our fair state's most notorious political operatives -- past head of Koch-funded Americans for the Prosperous, for example -- Dallas Woodhouse formed a 501(c)(4) with the IRS in March 2014, a tax-exempt "social welfare" org called "Carolina Rising," which despite everything to the contrary claimed by Mr. Woodhouse on his paperwork had as its solitary goal the election of Thom Tillis to the U.S. Senate.

Carolina Rising raised just shy of $4.9 million, $4.8 million from a single individual (whose identity remains secret, under the rules of a "social welfare" org). According to an investigation by Open Secrets, "nearly all of that [$4.9 million] went out the door to a prominent political media firm in Virginia for ads mentioning Tillis, while the rest was spent on payments to an LLC started by Woodhouse only months earlier." (Hattip to Greg Flynn, who was first at reporting something fishy about Carolina Rising.)

So Woodhouse personally benefitted, but that isn't even the illegal part. The ads mentioning Tillis, and mentioning him exclusively, violates the "private benefit" rule for 501(c)(4) orgs. It's a no-no with the IRS for Carolina Rising to exist for the sole purpose of trying to elect a single candidate.

(In the 1st link above, there's a video of a very drunk Dallas Woodhouse being interviewed on camera by a reporter on Election Night in 2014. In that interview, Woodhouse blatantly brags that he spent $4.7 million to elect Thom Tillis. The remainder of the $4.9 million he raised mainly went into his own pocket.)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed complaints with the IRS accusing Carolina Rising and another 501(c)(4) group (one working exclusively for GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio) of violating the law.

The IRS mill grinds slowly, but it grinds exceeding fine. We'll be interested to watch where this goes and how Mr. Woodhouse continues to comport himself as head of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Judy Wilburn, a Yadkin County school teacher who was featured in one of Carolina Rising's television ads for Thom Tillis in 2014, has been charged with assaulting a handicapped student.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

McCrory: All-In For Margaret Spellings?

Last item down-column speculated about just how in the tank The Guv might be for Margaret Spellings to take over the UNC system and manage its further decline.

This morning, the Carolina Journal, an Art Pope publication, offers this additional brick in the wall:
RALEIGH — UNC Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque and Margaret Spellings, the top candidate to become UNC system president, left a recent “emergency" meeting of the board to meet with Gov. Pat McCrory, a source at the meeting told Carolina Journal. Fennebresque and Spellings were in a closed session with members of the board’s selection committee when they left to meet with McCrory, several board members confirmed to CJ’s source.

Monday, October 19, 2015

And Now ... Gov. Squishy Wades Into the UNC President Mess

That law that the Republican leaders in the General Assembly passed to force the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to produce publicly the names of three finalists for president of the UNC system ... that law is sitting unsigned on Governor Squishy's nicely polished and dust-free desk.

It almost seems deliberate, then, doesn't it, that Chair of the UNC Board of Governors John Fennebresque tried to sneak in just one candidate for president, Margaret Spellings, this past Friday, though it all exploded in his face. Fennebresque certainly knew that the General Assembly's meddling law wasn't in effect yet. The governor certainly looks like an enabler of Fennebresque's plan, doesn't he? The sly little minx!

Then Friday evening, about the time the BOG was breaking up its closed-door meeting with Margaret Spellings and fleeing for the exits before the press could ask any questions, McCrory had his spokesman announce that he doesn't like that meddling law passed by the General Assembly.

So he'll veto it, right? Not so fast there, Mr. & Mrs. Naive Citizen. Maybe he will. And maybe he won't. McCrory's spokesman said that his boss will wait and decide on October 30, which is the absolute drop dead last day he could possibly veto it. We don't call this man "Governor Squishy" for no reason!

Guess what! October 30th also happens to be the next meeting day for the UNC Board of Governors. Enabler, meet opportunity!

Edith Bunker: "It's amazing how coincidences always seem to happen at the same time!"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Margaret Spellings: In the Student-Loan Collection Business

Student loans maintain the highest default rate (11.8 percent) of all consumer debt, well above the rates for autos (3.4 percent), home mortgages (4.3), and credit cards (9.4).

Collecting on overdue student loans has become a growth industry. It's nasty work, but someone has to do it.

Helping those who do it to do it with gusto: Margaret Spellings, the anointed candidate chosen by John Fennebresque et al. to take over the University of North Carolina system.

CENNATE Corp. specializes in collecting student loans. Growth industry? Why, yes. CENNATE Corp. recently expanded its workplace to 74,000 feet and doubled its workforce in suburban Illinois.

So those of you inclined to pooh-pooh her higher education credentials can just cut it out. She signed on in March to help extract blood from those overripe college student tomatoes.

[Hattip to Greg Flynn who alerted us to the CENNATE connection]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Chaos at the University of North Carolina Board of Governors; Or, Proof That Republicans Can't Run ANYTHING

John Fennebresque
Okay, to recap: The University of North Carolina Board of Governors (BOG) is now 100% Republican, mostly appointed by the Republican leaders in the NC House and Senate. The BOG fired the highly popular and by all reports very effective president Tom Ross early this year, and then BOG president John Fennebresque could not give a single reason to the press for that firing.

They just wanted "someone new." Translation: a high-profile Republican.

Fennebresque appointed the BOG search committee for that high-profile Republican, putting himself on the committee, and then clapped down a dome of secrecy, effectively cutting the other two-thirds of the BOG out of the process.

The General Assembly decided to meddle, as only they can meddle. They passed a law saying that three top candidates for Tom Ross's job had to be made public and brought to the full BOG for discussion. That law has not yet been signed by Gov. McCrory, so ... oops (as you will see).

News broke yesterday that Chairman Fennebresque had called an emergency meeting of the full BOG for today and that -- lo and behold! -- Mr. Fennebresque's preferred, lone candidate will be present for an "interview."

Margaret Spellings
Fennebresque's choice: Margaret Spellings, former Secretary of the Department of Education under George W. Bush.

Fennebresque's move sparked a kind of fire storm:

1. Republican Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Republican House Speaker Tim Moore jointly wrote a letter to Fennebresque saying he was out of compliance with the will of the General Assembly's new law (which -- oops -- hasn't been signed and formalized by the governor). BergerMoore wrote that "calling an emergency meeting to discuss only one candidate could be viewed as the Board’s attempt to circumvent the overwhelming will of the elected people of the State of North Carolina prior to the bill becoming law.”

Read more here:

2. BOG members Thom Goolsby and David Powers both wrote letters to Fennebresque demanding he resign. Goolsby: "Among other things, in your short tenure you have blocked board members from accessing university staff for public information about the system, botched President Ross’ termination, hired an incredibly controversial search consultant and barred two-thirds of the board from participating in the hiring process." Etc. It only gets meaner after that.

3. Meanwhile, the name Margaret Spellings, along with her photograph, landed in the pages of the Raleigh News & Observer, the leak that Fennebresque had apparently feared most.

4. Countdown to Fennebresque's resignation from the BOG begins ... NOW!

5. Countdown to Margaret Spellings withdrawing from consideration as the new president of the UNC system also begins now.

6. Countdown to the further destruction of a once-great university system ... actually began months/years ago when the Republican backward-movers took over every lever of North Carolina governance.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Fate of Mac Butner

Josh Howard
The notoriously racist and otherwise just generally bigoted chair of the Rowan County Board of Elections will have his hearing before the State Board of Elections (SBOE) in about 30 minutes from now.

Wish we could be there to watch SBOE Chair Josh Howard -- he who found nothing either surprising or offensive in the revelation that Watauga County Commission attorney Stacey "Four" Eggers was actually running the Watauga County Board of Elections, despite Howard's previous observation that putting Four on the board would constitute a conflict of interest.

Howard also continues to rubber-stamp the public actions of Watauga BOE Republicans Bill Aceto and Luke Eggers, despite a judge's ruling that those actions are unconstitutional infringements on the rights of young voters.

Mr. Howard should find it fairly easy to relieve Mac Butner of his position this morning, but you never know how far Mr. Howard will go to justify the behavior of any Republican on any county BOE.

The SBOE just removed Mac Butner from his position on the Rowan County Board of Elections by a 2-3 vote, Chairman Josh Howard voting with the two Democrats to remove him.

Howard is quoted as saying, "I'm not leaving someone who says these things on a County Board of Elections - not on my watch."

Interesting. He's certainly allowed plenty of shit to remain in place RE Watauga County.

Rhonda Amoroso
As remarkable as Josh Howard's siding with the Democrats today is the vote by Rhonda K. Amoroso and newly appointed member James Baker, both Republicans, to retain Mac Butner as chair of the Rowan County board.

They are purely partisan protectors of any status quo that any county Republican Party in North Carolina decides to install in the local "fair elections" office.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Interesting Primary Contest in NC House District 82

Michael Fischer
Rep. Larry Pittman, a great proponent of establishing a state religion in North Carolina (among other acid baths), has drawn a Republican challenger in the Republican primary, a lawyer with Womble Carlyle named Michael Fischer, whose campaign photo makes him appear approximately 15 years old. We wish him well.

Preacherman Pittman strips the paint off any wall he stands near. He's a practitioner of the one true religion: God, guts, and guns. He laid into former Speaker of the House Thom Tillis as a "swish" who wouldn't support Pittman's far right agenda. He's been a special enemy of gays and of progressives, who are the same in his eyes, and he particularly hates Planned Parenthood, which provides over 18,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections, over 11,000 life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings, and contraceptive services to more than 61,000 women every year in North Carolina.

In early 2012, Pittman sent an email to House members calling for public hangings and said doctors who perform abortions, rapists, and kidnappers should be executed.

In the 2014 rankings of legislative effectiveness, Pittman was the lowest ranking Republican in the House at 118 out of 120 members.

Fischer, naturally, claims his own conservative boilerplate, because what else are you going to do running as a Republican in North Carolina: “I’m pro-life, pro-Second Amendment Rights and I want to protect religious liberties for every American.” But then he added: “For Cabarrus County to attract more good jobs and foster the best education for our children, we must go in a new effective, conservative direction.”

Read more here:

The cold & pitiless gaze
of Larry Pittman
Reckon the key word there was "effective." Since Pittman ain't. And Michael Fischer says he worked as a school teacher before becoming a lawyer, so maybe he's not an idiot.

Drip, Drip, Drip...

Told you!
WASHINGTON — Far-right media figures, relatively small in number but potent in their influence, have embarked on a furious Internet expedition to cover Representative Paul D. Ryan in political silt....
"Latest Unease on Right: Ryan Is Too Far Left," New York Times, 12 October 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

The House Speakership Will Destroy Congressman Paul Ryan

The speakership will destroy any Republican who takes the job.

Because the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party will never compromise on anything.

Witness the scribbling of North Carolina Tea Party blogger Brant Clifton.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Your Friday Morning "Makes My Skin Crawl" Moment

Kenny West ... Republican from Hayesville, NC, who ran for Congress in the NC-11 in the crowded Republican primary of 2012, a race that Mark Meadows won and went on to become the elected congressman. At the time he ran in 2012, West was also Chair of the Clay County Republican Party.

Apparently recognizing his own sinking campaign ship (he'd also run in the 2010 Republican primary, garnering only 7% of the vote), West gave up the race during the primary and endorsed Meadows (even though he had earlier hinted that Meadows suffered from a "character flaw" that made him unfit for office, a hint that was never spelled out).

West was in debt from the campaign, had raised only $11,000 (of which he had put in almost $6,000 himself), but Meadows rode to the rescue after his election in November 2012: "Meadows began to make payments to West out of his campaign account three weeks after the general election. By the time West filed his termination report with the FEC, Meadows had paid him $6,400. The Meadows campaign would ultimately pay West a total of $11,200 from Nov. 26 to Jan. 1. The listed purpose for five of the seven payments was 'Compensation.' For the final two payments, it was 'Compensation - Transition.' West did no paid work during the campaign, according to FEC reports and to people involved in the campaign."

Then Meadows elevated West as his Chief of Staff in his Capitol Hill office, which was followed closely by numerous complaints from female employees that West was a sexual harasser, or just a plain ass:
A person close to Meadows said he personally observed West's behavior around women before he was offered the job, and warned Meadows about West. "There were a number of us who talked to him and basically said, 'You have a problem here,' before he ever got sworn into office," he said. His behavior apparently didn't change in the congressional office. "I've heard that basically since day one," the source said.
"I don't know if it's just his personality, but I know he paws on people. And I do know within his office, there have been a lot of complaints. As one of his staffers told me, 'The son of a bitch has had a complaint on him by every woman in our office.'"
A second source close to Meadows said that West's behavior stuck out. "I'm as mountain-boy, country-hick as they come," this person said. "But you know how to talk in front of women; you know how to talk in a public crowd. And there's a way that you talk at a bar with your friends versus otherwise. And Kenny would thump his Bible all holier than thou and then make off-color comments, and it was kind of one of these where it was, 'OK, is he being funny? Is he being serious? Is he just stupid?' And to be perfectly honest with you, that's not like Meadows at all to put up with that. I know for a fact and I've heard from at least three of the women that he was completely inappropriate and complaints were filed [with Meadows]."
The makes-your-skin-crawl detail:
A third source who previously worked in Meadows' office said that West was "weird" around women and that one of the things that often made female staffers uncomfortable was his insistence a woman hold hands and pray with him. "I know that the whole 'hold my hands and pray' thing was not unique to me," she said.
Congressman Meadows banned West from the Washington office but kept paying him, then exiled him to an office in the 11th District of NC, and then cut him off with a sizable severance pay that has prompted an ethics investigation.

So the question is hanging out there: What did West know about Meadows (the "character flaw") that would earn him such a payoff?

The North Carolina Connection to the Downfall of Kevin McCarthy

McCarthy & Ellmers
At 8 a.m. yesterday morning, as Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was approaching a noon nomination and probable election in the Republican House Caucus as the new Speaker of the House, he received an email from a conservative Chicago activist with the subject line, “Kevin, why not resign like Bob Livingston?”

Bob Livingston, O my brethren, was the replacement Speaker chosen by the Republican caucus back when a sex scandal drove Newt Gingrich out of the House in 1998. Livingston was promptly scuttled by his own sex scandal. That's when the Republicans of that day found Denny Hastert hiding in a back room and elevated him to the speakership, because everybody said that Denny had never had sex with anyone (little did they know!).

Anyhoo, according to Huffington Post, the "why don't you resign" email yesterday morning amounted to a threat of being outed publicly for an alleged romantic, extra-marital affair with North Carolina Congresswoman Renee Ellmers. Ellmers, as a matter of fact, was also a recipient of that 8 a.m. poison email. Apparently, if you're anybody in DeeCee, or hang out at the Capitol Lounge or the Tune Inn on Capitol Hill, you've known about the McCarthy-Ellmers rumor for months!

Following that 8 a.m. threatening email, McCarthy was then treated to a very public letter written by NC 3rd Dist. Congressman Walter Jones, which contained its own potent threat. Though the letter was addressed to the Republican Conference Chair, who would be running the caucus meeting at noon, it got wide distribution and without any doubt got into the hands of Kevin McCarthy.

Jones wrote, "With all the voter distrust of Washington felt around the country, I am asking that any candidate for Speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican Conference and the House of Representatives if they become public."

What did Walter Jones know and when did he know it?

Oh, okay, Jones has denied that he was writing about Kevin McCarthy specifically, if you want to believe it. And McCarthy has denied that Ellmers or Jones had anything whatsoever to do with his decision, if you want to believe that.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Dictatorship of the North Carolina General Assembly

You know about Asheville's water supply. It's being taken away from Asheville and given to a regional authority, which will give it to developers free of any burdens to follow Asheville's land-use planning. The North Carolina General Assembly decreed it. Let it be so!

Because there is no "home rule" in North Carolina. Cities and towns are totally at the mercy of the General Assembly, as Boone also well knows.

Now more of the General Assembly's dictatorship has come to light. Someone -- the Republican pooh-bahs who've been doing the bidding of the oil/gas/fracking industry -- snuck in a provision to the "Technical Corrections Bill" that will prevent any county or city government from regulating fracking in any way.

What is the Technical Corrections Bill? It is a collection of typo corrections and other technical error fixes for mistakes that inadvertently got into bills that passed. It's ordinarily non-controversial.

Last week, in the last effing minutes of this session of the General Assembly, the Technical Corrections Bill "was passed by the Senate at 4:06 a.m. and the House approved it six minutes later, at 4:12 a.m., with nearly a third of House members not even voting."

There was a fracking turd slipped into that bill -- surreptitiously and mendaciously -- at the last minute and without any notice to anyone, especially not to the members of The Body who represent counties where fracking is an imminent threat. (The language slipped into Technical Corrections is in addition to language in S786, passed in 2014, which was apparently not explicit enough to satisfy the oil&gas industry.)

As Judge Dillon wrote in his now infamous Asheville water system decision, the General Assembly can do any damn thing it wants to the rest of us, and our local government bodies can go straight to hell.

What's Happened to Public Education in North Carolina

Governor Squishy obviously thinks that saying stuff makes it happen. Meanwhile, the North Carolina General Assembly knows that stuff happens, 'cause they're doing it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The "General Assembly Is God" Court Decision

This morning Justice Chris Dillon of the NC Court of Appeals issued a three-judge panel's decision in the case about the seizure of Asheville's water supply.

It's pretty amazing. Or not amazing at all, if you've been paying attention to what's been happening to the higher levels of "justice" in North Carolina. Here's the "money quote" from Dillon's written opinion:  "Our General Assembly has the power to create a new political subdivision, to withdraw from Asheville authority to own and operate a public water system, and to transfer Asheville’s water system to the new political subdivision without compensation."

Got that?

Asheville built it. Asheville paid for it. The General Assembly can take it and give it to some other group, and they don't have to pay Asheville a thin red dime for it.

You realize what this means for the long-debated and controversial new Boone water intake on the New River. If you don't know what it means, you might be playing with less than a full deck of cards or you might be an incumbent on the Boone Town Council.

Monday, October 05, 2015

As Long as there's an Alabama, North Carolina Won't Be the Worst

Alabama's photo voter I.D. law requires a DMV-issued photo I.D. Some 250,000 Alabamians do not have that I.D., predominantly African-Americans. Alabama just closed 31 DMV offices, most of them in counties with a preponderance of African-Americans.

That blatant catch-22 has prompted a letter to the U.S. Justice Department:

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Who Wore It Best?

"Stuff Happens"

"Look, stuff happens," said Jeb Bush in the aftermath of the Umpqua Community College mass killing in Oregon.

Aftermath of Umpqua Community College mass killing

Yep. Stuff happens. Republican presidential field in the aftermath of 30 years of conservative extremism and Tea Party fantasizing.

Friday, October 02, 2015

When Being a Baptist Preacher Ain't Enough!

Dazzled as you no doubt are by the congressional biscuit-stealing of Virginia Foxx, you may be forgiven for paying insufficient attention to the performance of Congressman Mark Walker in the NC Sixth Congressional District.

Mark Walker
Walker defeated The Anointed "company" candidate, Phil Berger Junior, in the Republican primary of 2014, an upset about which Phil Berger Junior has not stopped sobbing since May of 2014. Phil Berger Junior is The Anointed Son of Phil Berger Senior, the Czar of all the Carolinas and the man who can make Governor Squishy jump and who used to regularly mug Thom Tillis too before Tillis became big for his britches and took a seat in the U.S. Senate (he was lame, anyway, as Speaker of the NC House and let Berger in the NC Senate make all the decisions that counted).

Anyhoo, Mark Walker is a Baptist preacher, so the hand of God, obviously, can be blamed credited for his apotheosis. Anyone who gets to sit near Virginia Foxx has made it to the gravy!

The hand of God, as it turns out, evidently had a sprained wrist on the day Walker won, because Baptist preacher or no, Walker has been weighed in the scales and found wanting as a conservative in the U.S. House, mainly because he went along with the crowd and voted for that flaming liberal John Boehner as Speaker, a sin for which Walker must now be forced to burn in the hell of another Republican primary.

A Republican conservative who's more conservative than "conservative" named Kenn Kopf, who evidently drinks acid for breakfast and doesn't even belch, has announced that he is here to kick Preacher Walker out of his job, because Walker was sent to Congress to "change the leadership" and "stop the president’s attack on our people and the Constitution," and has he even done any of that? In a word … no!

What a miserable failure! Kopf said those words about Walker, mind you, only after Boehner dissolved in a resignation puddle and ran down the marble steps of the Capitol, never to be seen again, but Preacher Walker is still going to have to pay for his Original Sin. It's the natural law of conservatives: no one is ever forgiven, unless you're a Duggar.

Not one Original Sin (Boehner!) but two, and the worst one, probably, was allowing the Kenyan Muslim President to confiscate every gun and put conservatives into reeducation camps and force Christians to gay-marry all over the place.

The Dark Money of Dallas Woodhouse

Dallas Woodhouse was selected by the NCGOP last weekend as its new executive director. He's also the founder and director of a 501(c)4 outfit which he calls Carolina Rising. Investigative researcher Greg Flynn did a little digging into that "dark money" closet, and we quote Greg at length:
A recent sliver of sunlight reveals slightly more about the dark money group Carolina Rising than previously known. The 501(c)4 organization led by Dallas Woodhouse filed its first tax return, for the 2014 tax year, on August 12th. The return shows income of $4,880,000 and expenses of $4,799,344 for the period beginning March 25, 2014 and ending December 31, 2014. The bulk of expense payments was $4,654,645 to Crossroads Media, LLC, in Alexandria VA, for TV and cable ads. The revenue came in donations from two unnamed contributors, one in the amount of $4,820,000 and another in the amount of $60,000.
The document lists 3 Raleigh based officers: Dallas Woodhouse as President and Treasurer, his father-in-law Duane Ischer as Director (listed elsewhere as Secretary), and environmental engineer Todd Brozell, another Director. No salary was paid directly to Woodhouse but $72,000 was paid to his wholly owned company Solutions NC, Inc., for management services.

Woodhouse has consistently declined to name Carolina Rising’s donors. The existence of just two donors in the IRS filing is in contrast to statements Woodhouse made to the Center for Public Integrity in November 2014 when it profiled the group’s election year spending.
“Woodhouse did say Carolina Rising is funded by multiple donors. 'we have a large, diverse donor body that we have brought into this mission of helping the Republicans tell their story in North Carolina.' “
If the statement is true, it suggests that funding passes through one or more other entities before arriving at Carolina Rising, on its way to Crossroads Media, LLC.
Siphoning off a bit for "management services." NCGOP better get ready for that same siphon hose.