NC REPUBLICANS ADOPT REDISTRICTING RULES AIMED AT POLITICAL ADVANTAGE: North Carolina’s legislative leaders adopted rules Thursday that they will use when drawing new election district lines, after 28 districts were ruled unconstitutional last year. The current lines were drawn in a way to unfairly disenfranchise black voters, federal courts found. While racial gerrymandering is illegal, the U.S. Supreme Court has so far allowed political gerrymandering, and one of the new rules is that legislators may consider past election results when drawing the new lines. Rep. David Lewis told a joint meeting of the House and Senate redistricting committees that the process “will be an inherently political thing.”
REPUBLICANS' TOTAL EXCLUSION OF RACE IN MAP-MAKING MAY VIOLATE VRA: Some attention to race is typically required, though, because North Carolina must comply with parts of the federal Voting Rights Act, which is meant to protect minority voters' ability to elect candidates of their choice. It is unclear how new maps will satisfy this point. When asked, Republican leaders repeatedly quoted from a court opinion that not only declared race was the predominant factor in drawing the old maps, but said GOP legislators failed to produce evidence showing they needed to rely on racial data to satisfy VRA requirements. "The only way to comply ... is not to consider race in that process," Lewis said. Democrats, and particularly black Democrats, were incredulous. "Do you understand that, by not using race, you're defeating your own purpose?" asked Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham. "The districts were declared unconstitutional because of race. If you don't use race to correct it, how are you going to show the court that they're not still unconstitutional?"
DALLAS WOODHOUSE BRAGS ABOUT HIDING CAMPAIGN MONEY, CLAIMS IT WAS JOKE: A North Carolina Republican leader was accused of “boasting about skirting campaign finance laws and laundering money” through the party’s treasurer, but he said his comments were taken out of context and were clearly a joke. The N.C. Democratic Party sent an email to the media with an alleged audio recording of N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse at the Red, White & BBQ event hosted by the Eastern Wake Republican Club in Knightdale. “When we need to take illegal cash under the table and when we need – I see none of the politicians are laughing – when we need to take the big liberal Hollywood elites’ money, nobody can help us hide it better than David (Cozart),” Woodhouse said. “Thank you; it was so hidden that even I was unable to find it or spend it.”
TIM MOORE BEHIND CUTS TO LEGAL AID, SAYS PRIVATE SECTOR SHOULD HANDLE IT: Not only did North Carolina’s nonprofit legal aid groups see the General Assembly cut much of their state funding used to help poor clients with civil legal troubles, they were at a loss as to why it happened. Now a top legislator has disclosed some reasons. “There were examples being brought to a number of us where for example you had a ‘mom and pop’ who were landlords in a lease and where they were coming in and getting served with discovery and all these things and a lot of frivolous motions,” Moore told reporters last week. Moore also said regular private lawyers should be performing more of this civil litigation for free — attorneys are encouraged to perform “pro bono” work. Private lawyers performing pro bono work do good work, but it supplements and can’t replace the high demand work of the legal aid groups, according to Southern Piedmont executive director Ken Schorr. “There is still enormous need for legal representation that cannot be met by volunteers alone,” Schorr said.
TRUMP CLAIMS US "LOCKED AND LOADED" AS NORTH KOREA AIMS MISSILES AT GUAM: President Donald Trump tweeted that military solutions are "locked and loaded" as officials said Friday they plan to move ahead with large-scale U.S.-South Korea exercises later this month that North Korea, now finalizing plans to launch a salvo of missiles toward Guam, claims are a rehearsal for war. The exercises are an annual event, but come as Pyongyang says it is readying a plan to fire off four Hwasong-12 missiles toward the tiny island, which is U.S. territory and major military hub. The plan would be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval just before or as the U.S.-South Korea drills begin. Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run from Aug. 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. Washington and Seoul say the exercises are defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.