TRUMP DISBANDS KRIS KOBACH'S "VOTER FRAUD" COMMISSION AFTER PUSHBACK FROM STATES: President Donald Trump has dissolved a commission intended to investigate voter fraud after a massive data request by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach led to a backlash from state officials across the political spectrum. The White House announced the dissolution of the panel late Wednesday, citing resistance from states about complying with the commission. Kobach, the commission’s vice chairman, had sought personal information on every voter in the nation in June, a massive data request that spurred multiple lawsuits and backlash from state officials from across the political spectrum. Many states had refused to comply with the request, citing privacy concerns, and even Kansas could not legally provide the commission with partial Social Security numbers as Kobach requested.
NC'S GOP LEADERS FORCED TO CREATE JOINT COMMITTEE TO STUDY JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS: A proposal to appoint judges in North Carolina, with voters deciding later on full terms, emerged at the statehouse Wednesday, but a lack of consensus left unclear whether the General Assembly can approve any judicial branch changes during a special session slated to begin next week. Senate committee members reviewing these issues called instead for a new joint House-Senate committee to hash things out. For months, this Senate committee has reviewed a House plan to keep judicial elections but redraw the districts judges are elected from, but the committee's task always included the possibility of deeper reforms, and indications have been Senate leadership preferred some sort of appointments system. After Wednesday's committee vote, Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon shook his head when asked whether legislative leaders would approve any judiciary changes when they go into session Jan. 10, which was once the plan. "We will not," said Rabon, R-Brunswick. "There's a lot of work to be done."
WAKE COUNTY EMBEZZLER LAURA RIDDICK FIRED DEPUTY TO COVER HER TRACKS: A former deputy director of the Wake County Register of Deeds is suing his former boss and the agency on the grounds that he was wrongfully terminated as he looked into cash management in the office. The former deputy, Darryl Black, claims in a lawsuit filed Dec. 29 that Laura Riddick, the former deeds leader recently charged with six counts of embezzlement, forced his resignation on Feb. 10, 2017, “because she did not want him to uncover embezzlement at the office.” Riddick is one of four former deeds employees charged with embezzling money from the deeds office, which records legal documents, issues marriage licenses and certifies documents, among other duties. Investigators say $2.3 million has gone missing from the office over the last six years, and the four former employees are accused of taking more than $1.13 million of it.
IF HIS NAME ISN'T DRAWN, VIRGINIA REPUBLICAN MAY ASK FOR RECOUNT: There's no winner yet in Virginia's hotly contested race for a House seat despite a general election, a recount and a legal battle. Now election officials are turning to a ceramic bowl. But even that may not be enough. Although a drawing of names is scheduled for Thursday morning to determine who will occupy the seat in the 94th District, the loser could push for a second recount or ask the House to step in and pick a winner. Republican incumbent David Yancey indicated that he could take such a step if he loses, refusing a proposal from opponent Democrat Shelly Simonds on Wednesday that both sides accept the name drawing as final. Yancey said he was "not going to deny myself or the people of the 94th district due process." A delay on settling the winner could allow Republicans to start the 2018 legislative session next week at a 50-49 majority, which would let them pick a speaker and set committee assignments.
NC WOMAN AND SON JOIN LAWSUIT OVER BEING PEPPER SPRAYED DURING TRUMP INAUGURATION: A North Carolina woman and her son who were pepper-sprayed during protests at last year’s presidential inauguration in Washington have joined a lawsuit against the District of Columbia police department. The News & Observer reports a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in June was amended Wednesday to add Gwen Frisbie-Fulton, of Greensboro, and her son, who was 10 on Jan. 20, 2016. The lawsuit accuses officers with the District’s Metropolitan Police Department of corralling protesters into a detention area before arresting them. It also says they failed to give a dispersal order before using pepper spray and flash-bang grenades on demonstrators, violating the District’s First Amendment Assemblies Act. The amended complaint identified 27 officers accused of unconstitutional behavior.