republican corruption

Trump whines about NC Gerrymandering ruling during Charlotte visit

He can't understand it of course, but it seems wrong for some reason:

President Trump suggested Friday that there is “something wrong” with a recent decision by a three-judge federal panel in North Carolina that ruled the state’s congressional map was an illegal partisan gerrymander.

“I think it’s unfair with this whole redistricting thing they’re doing in North Carolina,” Mr. Trump told supporters in a Charlotte ballroom. “It’s very unfair you have an election in a little more than 60 days, and they change the district on you? And you’ve gone through primaries.” North Carolina’s population is closely divided between the parties, but the map drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislature produced a 10-to-3 Republican advantage among its U.S. House seats. The court raised the possibility that the state’s 13 districts could be redrawn for the midterm elections. “There has to be something wrong on this,” he added. “I know you guys are working on it.”

Okay, first of all, only one of those "guys" is actually in Congress, the other is a bible-thumping wannabe. But even the guy in Congress really has no standing, because redistricting is done by the state, not the federal government. You know what, I'm just going to stop right there, because arguing with Trump is about as pointless as predicting which way the squirrel will dash when he senses a car approaching. Even when he's almost all the way across the road, that doesn't mean he won't change his mind and run right under your wheel.

Mark Johnson at center of $6.6 million no-bid contract for IPads

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After he and other Republicans were wined and dined in California:

When N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced a $6.6 million purchase of iPads to support early grade literacy in August, it seemed welcome news for North Carolina school districts that have long complained of inadequate state resources.

But a Policy Watch review of state documents has found the multi-million dollar investment, which was not put out for bid with other vendors, came roughly seven months after Johnson and a trio of influential Republican budget-writers in the North Carolina General Assembly convened for an “executive briefing” with Apple reps at their Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. During the two-day meeting last October, the trillion-dollar tech giant spent more than $5,300 on transportation, lodging and meals for six state leaders, including dinner at an upscale Silicon Valley restaurant.

I'm sure the faux Libertarians over at Civitas and John Locke are feverishly trying to come up with an adequate spin over this. But years of whining about Democrats doing "favors" for their friends with (wait for it) no-bid contracts, not to mention the whole Free Market "government picking winners" in the private sector thing, has kinda boxed them into a corner. So they'll probably just ignore it completely, and/or crank out an emotional piece about a little boy who flourished in a charter school. But this issue has exposed, maybe better than anything else, Mark Johnson's inability to perform his job properly, or even legally:

Richard Burr sticks head in the sand over Trump crime ring

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And the irresponsibility reaches an astounding level:

Though some GOP senators expressed discomfort with the the plea deal reached by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the guilty verdict rendered on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, there has been no seismic shift in the GOP after a bombshell Tuesday. Some Republicans attacked Cohen as not credible, some said Manafort’s conviction has nothing to do with Trump and others still said the matter doesn’t fall in their purview as senators.

“I’m not sure why that would change my support for the president,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) of the past day’s events. “He was elected by the American people. Short of impeachment or death, he’s the president.”

Hoo boy, talk about being oblivious to irony. Impeachment would require a 2/3 vote from the U.S. Senate, and one of those Senators just admitted that Trump directing his attorney to violate campaign laws did not even diminish his support of the President one iota. Here's a translation of Burr-Speak: "Until he's impeached, I support him. But I support him, so he won't be impeached." Doesn't get much more Orwellian than that, folks.

Looking a gift McCrory in the mouth

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"Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see McCrory adding his voice to the opposition of these amendments. But never forget (because I won't), after he lost his election, McCrory dutifully signed bills stripping power from the Governor-Elect, bills he would never have signed had he himself won. McCrory threw both our election process and our education system into turmoil on his way out the door, and they are *still* a big, stinking mess, going on two years later. So you'll have to excuse me if I don't get all dreamy-eyed over his new-found integrity."

Toxic Amendments update: The biggest power grab of them all?

This is a rather long but very important thread:

From the archives: George Holding cast vote to protect family fortune

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Clearing the tracks for the gravy train:

Republican 2nd District Congressman George Holding voted for a handful of amendments two years ago to block federal funding for fair housing investigations similar to one targeting his family bank.

Congressional rules didn't forbid the votes, but ethics watchdogs said last week that Holding should have recused himself. Not doing so, "reflects poor judgment," said Paul S. Ryan, an attorney with Common Cause in Washington, D.C.

This article is almost a year old, making that particular vote three years ago. I had actually forgotten about this until I saw a Tweet referencing it, which highlights one of the more frustrating aspects of political watch-dogging. Elected officials like Holding thrive in a short attention span, fading memory environment, and usually their most egregious behaviors occur in non-election years. We can't count on mainstream media to resurrect these stories, unless some current issue calls for it. So it's up to the peanut gallery to poke those embers. Especially when they expose discriminatory practices:

Pay-to-play on NC's beaches

Just another day in the NC GOP's casino royale:

A North Carolina nonprofit with deep political connections received $5 million in the state budget for a beach nourishment study and design project, even though it has never done that type of work and is headquartered more than 250 miles from the coast. Lawmakers appropriated the funding to the Resource Institute, based in Winston-Salem, through a one-time “grant-in-aid” – pass-through money – from the state Division of Water Resources.

Since 2016, board members and principals of the Institute, as well as several of its contractors, have contributed $84,000 to House and Senate leadership and Republican lawmakers key to their interests, including Rep. Kyle Hall and Sen. Bill Rabon, according to campaign finance records.

Okay, aside from the stench of corruption and patronage associated with this, it also exposes another Legislative vs. Executive Branch power struggle. That $5 million might have been earmarked, but it also shows up on the bottom line of funding to DEQ. In other words, when GOP lawmakers are (rightfully) criticized for not properly funding the environmental department, and they grab a base number to dispute that, this will be included in that self-righteous rebuttal. The ugly truth is, Republicans in the Legislature *have* to co-opt Executive agencies to enrich their friends, because their branch really doesn't do much of anything in the form of actual "work" for the people of North Carolina. Call it "Purse Strings vs. Apron Strings," if you want a handy provincial illustration, but that manipulation of funding is a prime example of the GOP's irresponsible approach to doing the people's business. And of course, like many of these other sweet deals, there's a former lawmaker having a great time with the revolving door:

Tim Moore is the poster child for campaign finance reform

Here are just a few of his generous donors:

Constitutional crisis: 5 of 6 GOP Amendments dangerously ambiguous

The phrase "Pig in a poke" actually dates back to mid-16th Century:

6 – number of proposed constitutional amendments placed on the November ballot by GOP legislative majorities during the final five days of the 2018 legislative session.

5 – of the six amendments passed by lawmakers in 2018, the number that lack implementing language that would allow voters to know precisely what they are voting on (the sixth – which simply lowers the cap on the state income tax requires no such language) (Gerry Cohen, Director of Legislative Drafting at the General Assembly for 30 years in an interview last week with Policy Watch reporter Joe Killian).

The reason I threw that little historical reference in there is because even before our nation was born, and even before Oliver Cromwell rose up against the Crown, people were smart enough to avoid being deceived by somebody selling them a mysterious bag of goods. But apparently rank and file Republicans in the General Assembly aren't that smart, or they simply don't care if the NC Constitution is used and abused for partisan reasons. No x 6.

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