scharrison's blog

Tillis campaign had several foreign advisors, including former Soviet bloc

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is more pervasive than we thought:

"We weren't just working on messaging. We were instructing campaigns on which messages go where and to who." Wylie said that his largely foreign team instructed the Tillis campaign "on the messaging. We crafted his messaging, we targeted his messaging."

He said he couldn't recall any American Cambridge employees working on the Tillis campaign. "There were three or four full-time CA staffers embedded in Tillis's campaign on the ground in Raleigh. All of them were foreign nationals." A second former senior Cambridge staffer also said that most of the messaging team in 2014 was composed of foreign nationals. The staffer confirmed that there were foreign embeds in Raleigh on the Tillis campaign.

This story gets uglier by the minute. A foreign firm unethically (if not illegally) harvests Facebook user information, in order to form "psychographic" profiles, and then deploys foreign nationals to use that data to swing U.S. elections. And they knew it was not only wrong but legally questionable before they even did it:

Craft breweries file lawsuit over forced distribution regulations

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There really is no sound justification for this:

Two growing craft breweries are suing after failing to get North Carolina legislators to overturn a decades-old law on beer sales. Lawyers for Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Noda Brewing Co. were in court Tuesday to challenge the law, which forces them to hand over to private companies the distribution of their own beer once they sell 25,000 barrels or about the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool in a year.

The Charlotte breweries say the state’s beer distribution law is unconstitutional. They argue they’re forced to give up control to politically influential middlemen where their products are sold for virtually as long as they stay in business. A state attorney says a three-judge panel should examine the beer distribution law overall, not just how it applies to those two breweries.

NC's beer & wine wholesalers may never hit the #1 spot for lobbying and campaign donations, but they perpetually funnel tens of thousands into the system each year. Which answers the question many had when attempts to rewrite that law failed last year, when the issue seemed to have much support. It will be interesting to see how those lobbyists react to a court case, where their little backroom deals no longer work.

NC Legislature's new sexual harassment training falls short

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Required for staffers, but voluntary for powerful lawmakers:

When the N.C. General Assembly’s top staffer announced plans last week to roll out sexual harassment training for state lawmakers and legislative employees, some state lawmakers hailed the move as a good first step.

But women’s rights advocates and experts in workplace sexual harassment tell Policy Watch that the training, which is voluntary for lawmakers, might not go far enough. “This strikes me as not a real effort to effect meaningful change,” said Laura Noble, a North Carolina attorney who specializes in workplace litigation and sexual harassment.

At least one of the drawbacks for keeping this "voluntary" for lawmakers has to do with perception. While those who are prone to unethical behavior usually don't realize it, and would likely skip the training, those who aren't prone to that consider themselves enlightened enough to not need it. But a big part of this training is designed to teach that second (and hopefully much larger) group how to spot red flags, and take steps to intervene when necessary. And it's almost always necessary, if you really want to stop the behavior. Which brings up a third group of people, who are not abusers but also want to maintain plausible deniability that anything wrong is happening right in front of their noses. In many ways, that last group is worse than the first. Here's more:

NC Republican chastised for falsely claiming she's a nurse

And I bet she doesn't have a bridge for sale, either:

A North Carolina legislator misidentified herself as a registered nurse until recently, when the state Board of Nursing contacted her and asked her to stop. State Rep. Beverly Boswell, a Republican from Dare County, is a medical assistant and phlebotomist — someone who's trained to draw blood — who was first elected in 2016 to represent NC House District 6. A member of the NC House health committee, Boswell has filed bills to allow chiropractors to conduct physical examinations, establish life at conception and exempt some eye surgeries from the state's permitting laws, among other health-related bills.

Boswell identified herself as a registered nurse on her campaign website and Facebook page until mid-March, when the N.C. Board of Nursing, responding to a complaint, asked her to stop doing so, board spokesman David Kalbacker said on Tuesday.

I'm sure she could still get a job at one of those Crisis Pregnancy Centers, since being adept at bullshit is pretty much the only qualification...

Why Roy Cooper should *not* choose Burley Mitchell as #9

His support for bible-thumping Paul Newby cannot be ignored:

Tom Fetzer, a former state GOP chairman and former Raleigh mayor, said that he has formed an independent expenditure campaign finance group along with two former Supreme Court chief justices, Burley Mitchell and I. Beverly Lake Jr., designed to assist in the re-election of Newby. It is called the North Carolina Judicial Coalition.

This one is bad enough to warrant two strikes against Mitchell. First, for supporting the worst Justice who has ever donned one of those robes, and second for being a conduit for hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence such an important election, with a lot of that money coming from out of state. And strike number three is the fact Burley Mitchell has snuggled into Art Pope's network of bent think-tanks, joining such notables as Virginia Foxx (ugh) and Robert Shibley of FIRE, notable for pushing the worst campus speakers and whining when administrations don't want White Supremacists marching around. Do we want this man casting the tie-breaking vote on NC's election issues? That was a rhetorical question...

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Inducted into the hall of shame:

I seem to recall several folks telling me we shouldn't engage in opposition research during that campaign, that we should just present positives of our candidate because voters were tired of negative ads. Apparently they weren't tired enough...

NC Legislature fails the Sunshine test

Kirk Ross drops a whole salvo of truth bombs:

Communications between legislators and also between legislators and staff in the crafting of laws are among the few documents exempt from the state’s public records laws. The legislature’s requirements for county and municipal government agendas, meeting materials to be available well ahead of time does not apply to its own meetings.

The argument for legislative confidentiality, derived from English common law, is that the legislative process requires this privilege in order for agreements to be worked out. It’s a perfectly valid sounding rationale, but so unlimited and unchecked that it has long been intensely abused. It’s used to hide favors, fund pet projects and anonymously insert language into legislation.

I'm not even sure it sounds valid. Think about it: If lawmakers must have secrecy to agree to something, it naturally follows they're concerned about negative consequences if those communications came to light. Whether it's a strategic thing, where they don't want to give potential opponents to the measure a fair warning, or a personal concern, where they don't want to be associated with a controversial and maybe even unconstitutional act, it almost doesn't matter. They know they're on the wrong side of something, and they're trying to conceal it. Not just from other lawmakers, but from the general public. Which brings us back (once again) to the area of ethics, which should be just as important in holding lawmakers accountable as punishable crimes are. Back to the article, and what Kirk describes as the "black box":

Meet Supreme Court candidate Anita Earls

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