Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Getting Righteous About Campaign Finance Law


Carolina Forward email blast: Feb. 27, 2023

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has launched formal investigations into two high-profile Republican figures and one Republican dark-money group in connection with the 2022 election. Last week, Carolina Forward filed two formal complaints uncovering illegally unreported campaign support during the 2022 election cycle:

  1. The first regards E.C. Sykes, the 2022 Republican nominee for State Senate District 18, who accepted and did not report communications training provided to him by the group Alliance Defending Freedom.
  2. The second regards former Republican Congressman Mark Walker’s “Win the Courts” organization, which provided material support to several Republican candidates for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals which was never reported....

E.C. Sykes and “Alliance Defending Freedom”

E.C. Sykes is a multimillionaire investor, former businessman, and far-right Christian fundamentalist who ran for North Carolina’s State Senate District 18 in Wake and Granville counties. Sykes spent approximately a quarter of a million dollars of his own considerable wealth on his ultimately unsuccessful campaign, which he lost to Democrat Mary Wills Bode by a larger-than-expected 5.5 points....

...Sykes received strong support from a national Christian fundamentalist organization called the “Alliance Defending Freedom” (or ADF). The ADF is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and supports criminalizing homosexuality as well as the forced sterilization of transgender people....

Media training is a permissible form of in-kind material campaign support, so long as its value does not exceed the maximum allowable contribution limit ($5,600 in 2022). Like all campaign contributions, it must also be reported. Sykes did not.

Mark Walker and “Win the Courts”

Republican former Congressman and failed U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Walker unveiled a project called “Win the Courts” in mid-2022, dedicated to assisting Supreme Court and Court of Appeals candidates.

“Win the Courts” was organized as an independent expenditure committee (also known as a “dark money” group). One of its key activities was a colorful bus, pictured here, emblazoned with the images and names of Republican judicial candidates. The bus was a prominent prop at many Republican events.... “Win the Courts” also organized a rally in Greensboro....

Mark Walker and “Win the Courts” broke North Carolina election laws in a number of ways. It provided material campaign logistical support to several candidates, none of which was ever reported; it obviously coordinated closely with the Republican candidates it was organized to promote, which is also prohibited by law.


In July 2022, I wrote about the Sykes-Bode contest for NCS18. Sykes was a worrisome alternative to a talented young Democratic woman.

Southern Poverty Law Center's info on Alliance Defending Freedom.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Authoritarianism Blooming Like Skunk Cabbage in Tennessee


I have occasional reasons to cross the state line into Tennessee. Lotsa North Carolinians do business in Johnson County. But after catching up on the craziness right now out our back door, I'm thinking of going cold turkey on the entire Volunteer State. Their leaders are currently volunteering to be the worst public dicks in the nation. Economic reaction is the only pressure that works. (See how NC suffered after the "Bathroom Bill" passed.)

Two days ago, on Thursday, February 23, Tennessee lawmakers officially passed joint legislation to create a new felony offense for anyone engaging in an "adult cabaret performance" on public property or in any location where the performance "could be viewed by a person who is not an adult." The criminalization of these "performances" would presumably extend to costumed dancers in Pride parades and to off-color jokes told by a trans comedian (there are plenty such professionals; check Netflix).

On the very same day, Thursday, February 23, Tennessee House Republicans also overwhelmingly passed a ban on gender-transition health care, including hormone therapy and surgery, for anyone under the age of 18. That's telling those "confused" teenagers! "You're going to be what I say you are. And you're grounded."

The Drag Show Bill (H6/S3), "An Act to Amend Tennessee Code," lists its favorite erotic fantasies -- topless, go-go, and all "exotic" dancers, plus strippers and "male or female impersonators who provide entertainment." That capaciousness for criminalizing sexy displays actually deploys the adjective pruient, a little used relic from an earlier era of shocked Victorian prudery. Any of the "entertainers" listed above who arouse pruient thoughts will be subject to prosecution. 

Pruient comes from Latin pruiens, originally meaning an itching (no lie!). For Roman soldiers, beset by fleas and lice and armor-rash, pruiens meant a physical itching but quickly took on a metaphorical meaning, itching for sex. In other words, it's ancient and obscure enough to become the standard for criminal intent in a new felony class in the State of Tennessee. 

The Tennessee legislators worry about the itch because they by God have the itch, feel the itch, and by-'n'-by scratch the itch (like all God's creatures). Their denial is a confession but also a power play. The Puritan tyrant is always covering for his own sin. Accounts for the obsession:

"Republicans are troubled by homosexuality and can't figure out how not to think about it."

--Garrison Keillor


Democrats hold a dismissible minority of seats in the two chambers of the Tennessee legislature. Republicans have a veto-proof majority in both houses and a Republican governor to boot, willing to sign whatever they want. One of the minority Democrats in the House, Rep. Justin Jones (who goes under the handle @BrotherJones on Twitter) stood up during the debate on the Drag Show Bill and delivered one blistering takedown of Republican hypocrisy (video can be seen here). “If we want to address the issue of obscenity and what’s harmful to minors, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don’t need a bill — they need a MIRROR.”

If there's still a shred of justice at any level of power in this country, the Courts will see that the State of Tennessee is legally persecuting an identifiable group, and you simply cannot do that in our Republic.

Friday, February 24, 2023

NC Law Which Seeks To Silence Whistleblowers Fails in 4th Circuit


Raleigh, NC, Feb. 23 – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handed an important win to plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s Ag-Gag law, ruling that undercover investigations and whistleblowing are considered newsgathering activities protected by the First Amendment.

A coalition of public interest groups filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s “Anti-Sunshine” law – a statute that restricts these groups from conducting and publicizing undercover investigations by allowing employers and property owners to sue undercover investigators seeking to expose unethical or illegal activities in the workplace. Although similar to “Ag-Gag” laws challenged around the country, the state’s law extends beyond animal agriculture facilities and penalizes undercover investigations in settings like daycare centers and nursing homes.

Under North Carolina’s law, organizations and journalists are susceptible to lawsuits and substantial damages if they publicize evidence gathered from investigative activities such as speaking with employees, recording documents in nonpublic areas, documenting animal abuse, and performing surveillance at unsafe and unethical workplaces. Additionally, the law’s text and legislative history shows that the statute’s primary objective is to stop undercover investigations by what the legislature termed “private special-interest organizations,” specifically those focused on animal agriculture and food health and safety.

Today, the Fourth Circuit rejected the state’s numerous claims that undercover investigations fall outside of First Amendment protections, holding that each of the challenged provisions are not just subject to the First Amendment, but are viewpoint discriminatory, as they were originally passed to suppress speech critical of businesses and employer conduct. [aldf.org]

Friday, February 17, 2023

Both Republicans Representing Watauga Voted for Medicaid Expansion


Yesterday the NC House passed HB76 "Access to Healthcare Options" (Medicaid expansion under Obamacare) with both men representing Watauga County voting yes -- Ray Pickett, who represents most of the county and Destin Hall, who carved out Blue Ridge Precinct for his Caldwell District.

The bill passed 92-22 on its final reading. All Democrats voted for it and a bunch of majority Republicans too.

The bill goes now to the Senate. And that's where the trouble will begin.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Josh Stein Won't Defend State Restrictions on Abortion Pills


RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein won't defend state restrictions on dispensing abortion pills that are being challenged in a lawsuit and instead will argue the restrictions are preempted by federal regulations protecting access to the pills, Stein's office said Monday.

The decision by Stein, a Democrat, means Republican legislative leaders who want to keep the restrictions would have to seek to formally intervene in the federal lawsuit, which was filed by Amy Bryant, a physician who prescribes the drug mifepristone.

The lawsuit filed in January in U.S. District Court in Durham, and a separate lawsuit challenging limits on abortion pills in West Virginia, are considered the openings of legal battles over access to the medications. A Texas lawsuit poses a threat to the nationwide availability of medication abortion, which now accounts for the majority of abortions in the U.S. The case filed by abortion opponents seeks to reverse FDA approval of mifepristone.

Bryant's lawsuit seeks to block enforcement of state laws and rules that it says interferes with the ability to provide mifepristone to patients. The lawsuit cites the authority that Congress gave to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the FDA-approved drug.

Source: WRAL

Monday, February 13, 2023

This Trump-Appointed Judge Is About to Do Big Damage in My Texas Hometown


Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk

AMARILLO, Tex. -- This is where you go to sue in Federal court if you're looking to hurt women's rights and LGBTQ rights, because a single Trump-appointed judge for the Northern District of Texas gets to decide all those cases -- Matthew Kacsmaryk -- a former Christian Right activist who is well on the record expressing hostility to abortion and to any gender fluidity.

A quickie anti-abortion group, fetchingly called "Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine," incorporated in late summer 2022, claimed Amarillo as its home, and very quickly, three months later, sued the Biden administration in November seeking a nationwide ban on the "abortion pill" mifepristone. Mifepristone was approved by the FDA in 2000 and is available by mail, telemedicine, and pharmacy pickup. Mifepristone is one of two medications used to terminate pregnancies, and already over 29 states, including Texas, have laws or restrictions on the use of the medication. The Federal suit in Amarillo before Judge Kacsmaryk seeks a reversal of FDA approval.

A local Amarillo doctor, who also signed on as a plaintiff, claims a woman he was treating suffered complications from using mifepristone. A press release bragging about the suit: “The FDA never had the authority to approve these dangerous drugs for sale. We urge the court to listen to the doctors we represent who are seeking to protect girls and women from the documented dangers of chemical abortion drugs.”

Judge Kacsmaryk could side with the plaintiffs and grant an emergency injunction forcing the FDA to revoke its approval of mifepristone. Abortion advocates said this would pull the drug from the market and effectively initiate a nationwide ban on the medication.

How Important Is Kacsmaryk to the Trumpists?

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued at least eight times over Biden policies in Kacsmaryk's court. It's where you go if you've got a bullshit piece of legal reasoning for turning back the clock 100 years. Judge-shopping, and Kacsmaryk's boutique is always open for business. Appeals of Kacsmaryk's rulings go the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, whose Republican-appointed majority routinely issues rulings favoring conservative causes.

Trump forst nominated Kacsmaryk for the Federal bench in 2017, and it was one of the most contested nominations that Mitch McConnell forced through the Senate. The first vote on Kacsmaryk in the Judiciary Committee was 11-10, but the nomination never made it to the floor of the Senate because of adjournment. Trump renominated him in February 2019. The vote in the Judiciary Committee the second time was 12-10. In the Senate floor vote, Kacsmaryk was confirmed 52-46. Even trembling reed Susan Collins voted against him.

The American Bar Association rated Kacsmaryk "qualified" (a ranking below "well qualified"). Senate Democrats and a number of LGBTQ advocacy groups opposed his nomination because of his writings and comments on LGBTQ rights and women's contraceptive rights. He had previously worked on cases opposing certain LGBTQ protections in housing, employment, and health care. He had referred to homosexuality as "disordered" and to transgender people as suffering from a "delusion" and a "mental disorder." He certainly opposed Roe v. Wade.

A Note on My Hometown

It ain't Amarillo. My hometown of Silverton, Texas, about 80 miles southeast of Amarillo, barely exists any more. Amarillo is where we went to shop. Amarillo was our big city. It's where high school seniors went to get drunk and get laid. The world-famous "Cadillac Ranch" is a few miles west of Amarillo on I-40.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

BREAKING: Anderson Clayton Elected Chair of the NCDP


T. Keung Hui, for the Charlotte Observer:

A 25-year-old activist has ousted an incumbent who had backing from the state’s top party leaders to become the new chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. 

Anderson Clayton, the Person County Democratic Party chair and president of the state party chairs’ association, was elected Saturday to a two-year term as party chair by the N.C. Democratic Party’s Executive Committee, according to multiple sources in the party. 

Clayton had campaigned on the need for change following last fall’s Democratic losses in state races. Democrats lost control of the N.C. Supreme Court, were swept in the N.C. Court of Appeals and lost seats in the General Assembly. Clayton beat incumbent chair Bobbie Richardson, who had been backed by party leaders such as Gov. Roy Cooper and state Attorney General Josh Stein. Richardson, a former state lawmaker, had become the N.C. Democratic Party’s first Black chair in 2021.

Sisyphus Was a Bad Democrat (In Which I Sass Thomas Mills)


Most all troubles come from having standards.
--Thomas Berger, Little Big Man

We Democrats are deciduous. We fade, lose heart, become torpid, languish, then the sap rises again and we are passionate.
--Garrison Keillor, Homegrown Democrat

Democrats are always characterized by their gene for unrequited conciliation.
--Jeffrey Toobin, Too Close To Call

Jerry Meek, 2007

Democratic blogger and political consultant Thomas Mills dropped a turd in the punchbowl yesterday -- "The Low Stakes of State Party Chair" -- in which he argues that even if the reformist insurgency of Anderson Clayton wins the election for party chair today, it won't make any difference. Oh, it'll produce a momentary high for the young and the restless. But then, deflation. "The party chair only has as much power as the establishment, both here and in Washington, allows," Mills concludes. "The chair will either cooperate and become an arm of that establishment and have money, or they will buck the establishment and have none."

I pay attention to Thomas Mills, even when he makes me wince. He's a righteous Democrat, gives off the aura of a scrappy street-fighter, but generally speaking, he's moderate to the point of caution. Mills helped recruit Dan McCready to run for Congress in 2017 and worked as a paid consultant on that 2018 campaign. McCready wrote the definitive book on caution. He's not currently in Congress.

Mills remembers the last insurgency that took over the state party differently from me, the administration of Jerry Meek, but Mills was in a better position to observe and knew the insiders better than I, so I don't discount his recitation of facts: 

While he was popular with the party base, Meek never established much of a working relationship with Easley. Not much really changed within party headquarters. The executive director, who oversees the day-to-day operation of the party, stayed the same and kept his working relationship with the governor, which in turn kept the funds necessary to keep the party operational. The state house and state senate caucuses continued to operate as if nothing had happened. Meek was able to tamp down the restlessness among the party faithful, but he couldn’t change the fundamental reality of politics: it takes money, and lots of it.

One correction: Our "restlessness" with the state party in Watauga was more than "tamped down" during those Jerry Meek years. From our perspective, we had a much more open road, paved with cooperation from Raleigh, leading directly to the total sweep of president, governor, and US Senator in 2008 because we had tested and perfected an intense, data-driven field operation (Meek himself came to one of our canvasses to learn). I give Jerry Meek credit for turning several county parties around between 2004 and 2008, because he was deliberately pursuing a "hundred-county strategy" inspired by Howard Dean's "fifty-state strategy." 

Yet Mills doesn't think his impact amounted to much. Maybe he's right. But I'm pretty dug in with my lived experience.

Mills's downer post isn't just about seeing political history differently. It's also about declaring that the current enthusiasm for change in the party is doomed from the get-go, that "not much is going to change regardless of who is state party chair" because of the stranglehold of a self-interested Establishment. The money grip is iron -- eternal, ineluctable, and insidious. 

Much of the dissatisfaction of the party is far beyond anybody’s control. Those who believe Democrats need a year-round organizing operation have never said how they plan to fund it. The state Democratic Party is dependent on the support of the governor or from some organizational component of the national party. There’s no independent funding base for the North Carolina Democratic Party itself.

[Current party chair Bobbie] Richardson is getting blamed for not implementing a robust statewide field program during the 2022 cycle, but that’s not her fault. All of those operations are funded by national money and have been for decades. In 2022, those folks largely took a pass on North Carolina. Field programs are expensive and take millions of dollars to implement in a state the size of North Carolina.

Money, of course, but also whatcha gonna do with money once you get it?

If I believed that no amount of reform, even reform mixed with a widespread willingness to spend sweat equity, was bound to fail, even as it was being born, how the hell could I go on as a party activist? Hell, how could I go on paying the bills as a simple functioning member of a community held together by a social contract?

Yeah, I'm a fucking idealist.

Thursday, February 09, 2023

What's Wrong With NC Democrats?


Jeffrey Billman is the best hoof journalist in the state. I first read his writing in Indy Week, where he was editor-in-chief for several years. I followed him to an emailed (sometimes daily) political newsletter, "Primer North Carolina," where I learned significant facts about consequential goings-on and admired his clarity, his depth, his instinct for finding the pulse of things, the greatest talent of any good investigative journalist. Billman's a prolific freelance now, and thank gawd for new internet publications like The Assembly, willing to underwrite good investigative journalism. (Subscriptions are more than reasonable and worth it.)

Jeffrey Billman has produced for The Assembly the most revealing investigation of the current fight for the chairmanship of the NCDP, between a 73-year-old incumbent blamed by many grassroots activists for the 2022 debacle and a 25-year-old upstart with proven skills for winning unlikely campaigns. (I've written extensively about both Bobbie Richardson and Anderson Clayton and don't intend to write more. Use the search function up top, if you don't believe me.)

For his article on the Democrats, "Tangled Up in Blue," Billman interviewed a lot of people, but the interview he landed with Morgan Jackson is by far the most diagnostic of what's gone wrong with the Democrats. Morgan Jackson is Chief Political Strategist for Governor Cooper and also for Josh Stein ("Governor in '24!"), and the state Party has traditionally spent money the way the chief political strategist for the governor wanted it spent. So in the current struggle for the chairmanship, you don't get any more establishment than Morgan Jackson. Jackson has his own consulting firm, Nexus Strategies. He has a clear financial stake in the status quo, which happens to be the reelection of Bobbie Richardson. for it's in his interest and in the collective interests of his guys to make sure the gears are turning correctly down at the state Democratic Party HDQs. 

"It all begins and ends with money," Jackson told Billman. Which ... no kidding!

So the big establishment doubt about Anderson Clayton, the insurgent, is pecuniary. Can a 25-year-old upstart be able to raise the money? Billman says the party under Richardson's management raised a record $29 million in the '21-'22 cycle. Can Anderson Clayton do as well? Or even rake in a more average $20 million? She'll actually need more than that to mount a sustenance plan for activist organizing in the rural counties.

You betcha the money will come for Anderson Clayton!  I feel it myself. I don't think I've ever given anything directly to the state Dems (except my sweat and my blood), but with a new leader who has both a vision and a clue, I would be generous. Others would too. The fecklessness of the Raleigh apparatus frankly caused me to resent the county party's assessment for "the sustaining fund," which all county parties are required to pay to the central office. What's the money going to? 

Clayton doesn't lack for confidence in herself. She forecast to Billman that "donors will open their wallets if there’s a clear vision for how to make North Carolina a beacon of the South.” I agree. 

Jonah Garson, the young Chapel Hill lawyer who ran for the NC House in 2020 in the Democratic primary and is a past chair of the Orange County Democratic Party and is currently running for one of the vice-chairmanships of the state party, told Billman:

“I know from being in conversations with donors, mainly in the context of resourcing legislative campaigns, but also as chair of the Orange County Democrats, that there are a number of donors in state and out of state who would love to fund and feel a part of aggressive, on-the-ground field operations,” he said. “But you just need a strong, credible vehicle for building out strategies and executing plans.”

 "Aggressive, on-the-ground field operations." 

Orange County Senator Graig Meyer agreed that the state party has lacked a taste for blood, shying away from aggressive politics and "too dependent on outside groups to attack Republicans instead of doing it themselves." For example, Ted Budd never got successfully tagged as the good ole boy extremist he was.

Anderson Clayton gets the last word: "This party needs bite again."

We'll find out Saturday.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

North Carolina Democrats Will Decide Their Future This Weekend


Paige Masten put together a good article focusing on the current fight for the leadership of the NC Democratic Party, "After string of losses, some NC Democrats are seeking a new direction," to which a chorus in my immediate vicinity said, "No kidding!" The vote by the Democratic State Executive Committee (SEC) will be this Saturday in a virtual meeting.

Masten's article highlighted the insurgent challenge for the chairmanship of a badly damaged party by Anderson Clayton, about whom I've already written (and cheered) and for whom I feel some grasping hope for the future of the NCDP. The race between Clayton and current chair Bobbie Richardson has certainly turned into Establishment vs. Grassroots Activist, with all the big establishment dogs lining up behind Richardson -- Gov. Cooper, Josh Stein, Cheri Beasley, Jeff Jackson (a particularly disappointing endorsement, because it signals that the congressman is very comfortable with how elections are currently managed in North Carolina, off-brand for Jackson). I wrote it earlier: Richardson has shown little discernible introspection about what's not working in the Party's current iteration. When asked at the Progressive Dems candidate forum what ideas she found useful coming from her competitors, she couldn't think of a thing.

Late yesterday, Indy Week editor Jane Porter announced her publication's endorsement of Clayton, and Carolina Forward director Blair Reeves published an editorial, "Are NC Democrats Ready for a Reckoning?" in which he complains about "the party’s low-energy, battleplan-by-faculty-committee approach." It's all an implicit attack on Bobbie Richardson's administration, though he never mentions her name, and he never comes out and endorses Anderson Clayton (maybe he supports one of the other candidates. There are now four, I believe. There had been five. One of them, Eva Lee of Raleigh, ran as an insurgent progressive with bold ideas for reform but announced on Facebook on January 31 that she was dropping out and endorsing Richardson. Lee included a lengthy explanation for her change of heart in which she admits that she was conclusively swayed by Roy Cooper and the other bigwigs. So much for The Crusade. That Facebook post appears to have disappeared.

I'm clearly a partisan in this race, though I have no vote. Watauga County as a whole has four SEC votes. But it's the big counties of Wake and Mecklenburg and Forsyth and Guilford that have the majority of the 800 SEC votes, because county allotments are made on the basis of total number of votes for governor in the last election. (You see how this pie is baked.) In other words, if delegates are unwilling to buck the Establishment, like Eva Lee, Richardson wins.

Anderson Clayton deserves to win. She's traveled to county parties all over the state, gathering intel on what the more rural counties think and what they want and what they've learned, and through very effective social media she's energized Gen Z with a fire for doing the hard work. I worry actively about where all that new energy goes if Clayton doesn't win. Who wants the same old thing, the top-down (and trickle-down) distribution of party assets? Who wants more of the same? We stand to lose volunteers. Without volunteers, there's no ground game. People will leave not out of spite and anger (oh some will be spiteful and angry) but out of depressive hopelessness that anything is gonna come from the effort.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Mark Walker v. Mark Robinson? Good Lord!


Mark Walker

Speaking of artifically inflated objects that will deflate suddenly, I loved the headline in The Assembly, "Mark Walker Floats a Test Balloon" (subscription required). The article was referring to ex-Congressman Mark Walker's new ambition to run in the Republican primary for governor, after he came in a dismal third to Ted Budd and Pat McCrory in last year's Republican primary for US Senate.

In a text message to The Assembly, Walker confirmed he’s taking meetings about a possible gubernatorial run. Two close advisers said the Republican will be in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss his potential candidacy with members of the Republican Governors Association.

Walker used to be a pastor of a church and casts a mild aura, but doesn't he know that his own political party doesn't cotton to "mild" or "moderate" or "pleasant" in the post-Trump times? No, the contemporary GOP likes acid and mean and intemperate, and North Carolina Republicans have already found their preferred candidate for governor, the acidic, mean, and intemperate Mark Robinson, the loud-mouth meat-shield that white Republicans are tickled to applaud preaching the gospel of "owning the libs." Robinson's happy to be exploited in that manner.

But Mark Walker? Nah. He ain't gonna take out an accomplished ego-artist like Robinson, and we could even feel something like sympathy watching him get busted again.

Monday, February 06, 2023

J. D. Vance Is an Idiot


That's United States Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, on watch against Chinese balloons, nowhere near the actual flight path.

He had that picture taken and then posted it to his Twitter account. He wanted his fans to see it.

Reminds us of a funny 1966 movie, "The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming." Its plot involved a Russian submarine captain who's fascinated with America, and when he moves too close to Gloucester Island off the Massachusetts coast, his sub becomes grounded. Nine of his men go ashore looking for a boat they might use to free the sub. Some residents of the island believe an invasion is underway and panic, among them Jonathan Winters. All things being equal, Jonathan Winters showed less self-conscious, ridiculous machismo.

These guys are their own self-parody.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Update and Stand By: Wheeler/American Muckrakers v. Boebert ... Dismissed Without Prejudice


Back at the end of November, Democratic activist and plaintiff David Wheeler had a hearing in Watauga Superior Court over his lawsuit against Lauren Boebert (Colo.). Wheeler was claiming damaging defamation by Boebert which caused his political org, American Muckrakers, to lose money.

It took Judge Gavenus until the end of last week to throw the suit out, without prejudice, for the rather simple reason that it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction. Judge Gavenus said, "Go West, young man, and sue in Colorado, where your alleged bad actor actually does business." Words to that effect.

In a development, Wheeler is now fundraising on that qualified defeat, but also impressing supporters with his stick-toitiveness. He's promising to pursue Bobert in Colorado, if he can raise the money. The pitch:

Imagine the damaging information we could glean from a video deposition, under oath, of Lauren Boebert.

You can help us make this a reality by donating today.

We will get Boebert into a deposition if we can raise $5,000 this week. We are re-filing our defamation lawsuit against Boebert in Colorado. Your donation will be used against Boebert.

The funds will be used to pay the videographer, court reporter, transcription of the deposition, and other legal costs.

[To contribute to this fund: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=W2CLWES2J7H5Q&emci=f4797128-daa3-ed11-994d-00224832eb73&emdi=914bacd1-aca4-ed11-994d-00224832eb73&ceid=27539867]

Saturday, February 04, 2023

5 NC Supremes Intend To Prove They're Just Partisan Tools


Chief Justice Paul Newby,
doing his happy dance
Late last night -- because when you're being controversial, it's strategic to release the news on a Friday night before a warming weekend -- the five Republicans on the North Carolina Supreme Court granted a Republican petition to rehear the cases of Harper v. Hall (gerrymandering) and Holmes v. Moore (voter photo ID), just decided last year, because to Republicans, partisan gerrymandering and racial voter suppression are positive goods and the main means for maintaining their power.

The five Republican operatives will rehear those cases quickly, next month, because they need for people to forget about this naked abuse of power before 2024.

How naked?

The majority’s order fails to acknowledge the radical break with 205 years of history that the decision to rehear this case represents. It has long been the practice of this Court to respect precedent and the principle that once the Court has ruled, that ruling will not be disturbed merely because of a change in the Court’s composition.

That what Justice Anita Earls wrote in her dissent.


Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Controversial New Law Being Fast-Tracked in NC Senate


Senate Bill 49 was just filed yesterday, a fine piece of public school meddling titled "Parents' Bill of Rights," but as of today it's already being mulled in the Senate's Education Committee and is clearly being fast-tracked for quick adoption (in the now veto-proof chambers where Phil Berger rules). 

When the same law was introduced last year, it was quickly compared to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law, and if anything, the new version this year has become more expansive. (Not that every provision is bad on the face of it, but some of it reads like a police state's wet dream for keeping children and teachers in a state of fear, like “The right to review all available records of materials their child has borrowed from a school library.”)

Good Lord! Do you think Mom and Dad will find out I was reading The Decameron Tales?!?!

A law so on-brand for the party that's all about freeeeeedom.