COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST NC GOP SPURS DALLAS TO WAIL ABOUT "POLICE POWERS": The North Carolina Democratic Party asked Attorney General Josh Stein’s office to investigate a recorded call state Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse made to registered Republicans seeking candidates for office. The attorney general’s consumer division sent the state GOP a letter Wednesday asking for a response to the complaint and proposed resolution. Stein and the Democratic Party are trying to intimidate Republicans, Woodhouse said. They “attempted to use the full weight and police powers of the North Carolina Department of Justice to intimidate its rival political party, the Republicans, from making calls to voters and asking them to run for office,” Woodhouse said. Laura Brewer, Stein’s spokeswoman, said Woodhouse is overreacting. “There is no merit to any of these hysterical claims,” she said in an email.
NC UTILITIES COMMISSION GRANTS DUKE ENERGY PARTIAL RATE INCREASE: State regulators have approved Duke Energy's efforts to impose higher rates on its electric customers in the eastern half of North Carolina, but granted the utility less than half of what it wanted. The order is complex and announced after 5 p.m. Friday. Duke Energy said it was studying it. The case can still be appealed to the state Supreme Court before new electricity rates are set, and two commissioners dissented in the decision. "We are disappointed that the commission did not stand up for customers – especially those struggling to pay their bills," Gudrun Thompson, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in a statement. "While Duke is enjoying record profits, the commission undercut customers’ ability to reduce their energy use and lower their bills with cost-effective energy efficiency." Duke Energy reported this week that it made more than $3 billion in profit last year.
ONLY A FRACTION OF NC VOTERS KNOW WHO GENERAL ASSEMBLY LEADERS ARE: More than half of registered voters in North Carolina could identify the state’s two U.S. senators, but less than half could identify their own U.S. representatives, and less than a quarter could identify their own state senators and representatives. Eleven percent of voters identified Republican Phil Berger as N.C. Senate leader, but broken down by party, only 5 percent of Republicans could identify Berger, compared with 16 percent of Democrats. 49 percent knew N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry — which Husser attributes to Berry’s picture being posted in elevators across the state. 8 percent knew N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore. The poll found 62 percent of respondents “extremely” motivated to vote this year, breaking down to 72 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents.
RICK GATES WILL COOPERATE WITH MUELLER AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO SEVERAL CHARGES: The plea by Rick Gates revealed that he will help special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in "any and all matters" as prosecutors continue to probe the 2016 campaign, Russian meddling and Gates' longtime business associate, one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. With his cooperation, Gates gives Mueller a witness willing to provide information on Manafort about his finances and political consulting work in Ukraine, and also someone who had access at the highest levels of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Gates' plea comes on the heels of the stunning indictment last week that laid out a broad operation of election meddling by Russia, which began in 2014, and employed fake social media accounts and on-the-ground politicking to promote Trump's campaign, disparage Hillary Clinton and sow division and discord widely among the U.S. electorate.
MANAFORT INDICTMENTS ALSO REVEAL CROOKED BANKERS PLAYING ALONG: Recently filed federal charges against President Donald Trump's ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort could also pose legal and regulatory risks for the banks that loaned him millions of dollars against his New York real estate in recent years. The most serious exposure may be for a Rhode Island-based bank that employed a "conspirator" in Manafort's scheme to obtain a loan he couldn't afford, according to the 32-count new indictment unsealed this week. Dubbed "Lender B" in court papers, Citizens Bank not only lent Manafort $3.4 million based off of fraudulent documents but, in another case, appeared to help Manafort avoid being caught by sending back a crudely falsified financial statement that had been sent to them from a Manafort associate, according to federal prosecutors.