Pay to play in GOP House caucus

Last week Jordan Green at YES! Weekly reported that GOP NC House candidate Debra Conrad was feeling pressured to raise money for the Republican House Caucus in order to get the best committee assignments. The News & Observer picked up on the story and NC Policy Watch weighed in also:

If there’s anything to Conrad’s claim, this is extremely troubling news for our state. Pay-to-play politics of the kind described by Conrad are at the root of innumerable problems that plague our state’s politics and policies.

BlueNC has acquired a House Republican Caucus document that lends some credence to the claim and may rebut the claim of Thom Tillis' communications director Jordan Shaw that: "There’s none of that type of operation."

The document "Republican House Caucus Plan of Organization" dates from February 2009 before Republicans came to control the State House. At the time Republicans did not control committee assignments but the document clearly outlines fundraising targets for any member to be on the powerful Republican House Campaign Committee.

Republican House Campaign Committee.

The Republican House CampaignCommittee shall be responsible for future planning, recruiting candidates, and raising funds for use in electing Republicans to the North Carolina House. The Republican House Campaign Committee shall also be responsible for the development and implementation of an outreach and education effort to the public, businesses, and civic and professional groups. Funds raised by the Republican House Campaign Committee will be utilized as determined by the Committee. There will be no limit on the number of members of the Republican House Campaign Committee. Members wishing to be appointed to the Republican House Campaign Committee must satisfy minimum fundraising targets for the long-session legislative year as set forth below:

(i) House Republican Member (Freshmen) - $2,000.00;
(ii) House Republican Freshman Leader - $3,000.00;
(ii) House Republican Member (All Others) - $5,000.00;
(iii) Republican Joint Caucus Leader - $15,000.00;
(iv) House Republican Whip - $25,000.00;
(v) House Republican Leader – $25,000.00.

The Chair, the Republican Leader, and the Republican Joint Caucus leader (when the House holds the position) are mandatory members of the Republican House Campaign Committee. To continue to be a member in good standing, members must provide proof of having met the minimum obligation for fundraising for caucus activities as set forth above on or before April 1st in the year following the long session. Fundraising obligations must be met by direct contributions made by a member to the Republican House Majority Fund (RHMF).

Members who fail to achieve minimum requirements by direct contributions may appeal to the Republican House Campaign Committee for a waiver of the contribution requirement. A member requesting a waiver must show convincing evidence they have influenced direct contributions to the caucus and/or they have provided in-kind support that would equate to a direct contribution. All appeals must be supported by a two thirds vote of the House Campaign Committee members present at a meeting called for the purpose of hearing the appeal. Elected and Appointed Caucus Officers and Caucus Liaisons must meet the contribution requirements stipulated in this section and are not eligible for a grant of waiver.

Any member (Except the Republican Leader and Republican Whip) is entitled to a full refund of direct contributions provided for a given election cycle if it is later determined he or she has a challenger in a republican primary election. The Republican Leader and Republican Whip are entitled to a refund of any amounts in excess of the minimum contribution requirements set forth in this section. In order to receive a refund of prior contributions, the member must request the refund on or before the date of the primary election.

While membership and active participation in setting investment priorities requires members to meet contribution thresholds set forth in this section, all members are encouraged to actively participate in candidate recruitment and mentoring. The House Republican Caucus recognizes members may choose to make contributions to other Republican organizations and/or directly to Republican candidates for NC House seats. As part of financial reporting of caucus activities,the House Republican Caucus will periodically publish a summary of contributions of members and acknowledge those members who are making contributions to organizations deemed to be in support of the House Republican Caucus’ objective of providing financial assistance to NC House races.

Sounds like pay-to-play to me but you may have a different name for a money-based popularity contest.

HOUSE GOP Caucus Plan of Organization ADOPTED Feb 2009

Comments

This sounds immoral AND illegal

Greg,

Thanks for exposing this. Jim Black was small time compared to Thom Tillis, Charles Thomas and Company. A lot of this sounds illegal. How can people be guaranteed their contribution back? Very shady.

"Pay to Play" has served NC admirably for many years.

It almost sounds like you think "Pay to Play" is bad. It has been ingrained in NC politics for many years and I don't see it going away anytime soon. As a matter of fact I don't see "Pay to Play" ever going away. We are talking politics after all.

I'm glad you're happy with it

Personally, I think it's a horrible way to introduce new Legislators to the political process, by letting them know that they won't be able to get anything accomplished if they don't master the money game first.

As long as we use fundraising as a criteria for committee assigments, we'll be blessed with used-car salesmen as committee members.