NC ELECTIONS BOARD CHAIRMAN RESIGNS OVER PARTISAN TWEETS: Andy Penry resigned Saturday from the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The Democrat said he was leaving the board because he did not want to undermine an ongoing probe of potential wrongdoing in the state's 9th Congressional District. The board is investigating alleged fraudulent activity related to mail-in absentee ballots and could order a new election. Wake County GOP Chairman Charles Hellwig filed a complaint Wednesday and provided images of what appear to be tweets from Penry's account this year criticizing Trump and a proposed constitutional amendment. Hellwig cited state law prohibiting board members from publicly opposing candidates and referendums. Penry's resignation was first reported by The Washington Post.
TWO WEEK STAY GRANTED TO NCBOE BY COURTS TO FIND HOME FOR ETHICS ARM: The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, as it’s currently constructed, has nine members, but in October a three-judge panel ruled the board unconstitutional. A stay in the ruling that allowed the board to operate as-is had been set to expire Monday. But on Friday, a new stay was granted for two weeks, a spokesman for Senate leader Phil Berger said. Earlier Friday afternoon, legislative leaders had announced they were filing a motion to continue the stay to ensure the board could continue to operate as it is. The legislature and the governor’s office continue to negotiate to find a solution for the elections board composition. If the board were to revert back to the way it was in 2016, its lobbying arm would have to go back to the secretary of state’s office and ethics enforcement would fall under the authority of the Ethics Commission — which currently does not exist.
UNC BOARD DISCUSSING DISPOSITION OF SILENT SAM THIS MORNING: The Board of Trustees went into closed session during Monday's specially scheduled meeting to determine what's next for Silent Sam, the Confederate statue toppled at UNC. The board met at 8 a.m. in the Chancellor’s Ballroom of the Carolina Inn. Before going into closed session, officials offered their thanks and praise for all those who offered an opinion about the statue and indicated that a decision would be presented Monday. "We really wanted to get this right and I believe we have," said UNC Chancellor Carol Folt before the meeting went into closed session. Many people are waiting to hear what will happen to the controversial statue, which was toppled by protestors in August who claimed it promotes racist history. The pedestal where Silent Sam once stood has sat empty on the campus ever since.
G20 BRINGS 90-DAY CEASE FIRE IN US-CHINA TRADE WAR, TRUMP STILL A "NO" ON CLIMATE CHANGE: Trump agreed to hold off on plans to raise tariffs Jan. 1 on $200 billion in Chinese goods. Xi agreed to buy a “not yet agreed upon, but very substantial amount of agricultural, energy, industrial” and other products from the United States to reduce America’s huge trade deficit with China, the White House said. The final communique signed by all 20 member nations said 19 of them reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord. The only holdout was the U.S., which has withdrawn from the pact under Trump. Still, environmental groups praised the statement as welcome news. “That G20 leaders signed up to the Paris Agreement reaffirmed their commitment to its full implementation in the resulting communique is important,” the World Wildlife Fund said. Greenpeace said that “the necessity of the U.S. being part of the effort to fight climate change cannot be denied, but this is a demonstration that the U.S. is still the odd one out.”
TRUMP WANTS PAKISTAN'S HELP IN ENDING WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: President Donald Trump has reached out to Pakistan's prime minister, sending Imran Khan a letter seeking Islamabad's cooperation in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table to end the 17-year war in neighboring Afghanistan, officials said Monday. The development could help ease tension between Washington and Islamabad. Relations soured after Trump last month alleged that Pakistan harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden despite getting billions of dollars in American aid. Pakistan's foreign ministry quoted Trump as saying in the letter that he considers his most important regional priority achieving a negotiated settlement to the Afghan war and that he was seeking Pakistan's support and facilitation toward that goal. Despite near-daily attacks by the Taliban, who now hold sway in about half of Afghanistan's territory, the Trump administration has stepped up efforts to find a peaceful solution to the protracted war. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was expected to arrive in Pakistan this week during his visit to the region to revive peace talks with the Taliban.