CALLS FOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM ECHO IN WAKE OF BRIBERY SCANDAL: “This just unfortunately creates more of the jaded cynicism that people across all spectrums have toward democracy and politicians,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of the advocacy group Common Cause North Carolina. Phillips suggested going back to a system in which the candidates in some elections were eligible for taxpayer-funded grants to their campaigns — if they promised not to take above a certain amount of money from other sources. North Carolina had such a process for a short time in the 2000s. Last Tuesday — the same day the charges against Lindberg, Hayes and the others became public — Democrats in the N.C. Senate filed a bill that included election, redistricting and campaign finance reforms. One of the proposals was to bring back a public financing system, which the bill calls the “Fair Election Program.”
ANOTHER ROUND OF HURRICANE RELIEF PAYMENTS SENT TO NC FISHERMEN: The state Division of Marine Fisheries is sending out 1,000 checks totaling $7.2 million to compensate fishermen whose harvests fell in October and November due to the storm's aftermath. Another 680 checks valued at $3.2 million already were distributed for September harvest reductions. The compensation comes from a state hurricane relief package approved by lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper. The federal government also declared a disaster for the state's marine fisheries industry, which can provide more aid to fishermen. Florence's record rains and high winds in mid-September destroyed fishing boats, gear and buildings. Cooper says the state funds are an important boost for coastal regions and residents that rely on commercial fishing.
COLOMBUS COUNTY "RV SHERIFF" RULED INELIGIBLE BY ELECTIONS BOARD: The evidence that board members appeared to find most persuasive came from South Carolina DMV records: the RV has a South Carolina title and plates. The second day of testimony began with a dramatic proposal: Would the board like to go see the Cerro Gordo farm where Greene lives? Despite protests from Smith’s attorneys, board members said yes. The audience could come along because the visit was part of a public meeting. Scuffles immediately broke out in the hallway outside the courtroom. Sheriff’s deputies physically separated people and threatened at least one person with arrest. Some African Americans who attended the hearing debated whether it was safe to go along. One of Greene’s neighbors rushed down the stairs after saying he would bar the gate.
TRUMP FORCES KIRSTJEN NIELSEN OUT AS HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: Nielsen had grown increasingly frustrated by what she saw as a lack of support from other departments and increased meddling by Trump aides on difficult immigration issues, according to three people familiar with details of her resignation. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. She went into the White House on Sunday to meet with Trump not knowing whether she'd be fired or would resign. She ended up resigning, though she was not forced to do so, they said. Nielsen, who says she's staying on until Wednesday, is the latest person felled in the Trump administration's unprecedented churn of top staff and Cabinet officials, brought about by the president's mercurial management style, insistence on blind loyalty and rash policy announcements. Nielsen was also the highest profile female Cabinet member, and her exit leaves DHS along with the Pentagon and the White House staff itself without permanent heads.
NETANYAHU VOWS TO BEGIN ANNEXING WEST BANK IF HE'S RE-ELECTED: As Israelis get ready to go to the polls on Tuesday, a stark, fateful and long-deferred choice has suddenly reappeared to confront them after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unexpected promise to begin extending sovereignty over the West Bank if he is re-elected. Do voters want to make permanent their country’s control over the West Bank and its 2.6 million Palestinian inhabitants? Or do they want to keep alive the possibility that a Palestinian state could be carved out there one day? That question has been made newly urgent by Mr. Netanyahu, who is facing a career-threatening challenge from a unified centrist party headed by a team of former army chiefs. His shocking announcement about Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank appeared to be a last-ditch effort to rally his right-wing base and stay in power.