Thursday News: Voter Suppression Project


NC COUNTY ELECTION BOARDS ILLEGALLY PURGED THOUSANDS OF VOTERS IN 2016: Elections officials in Cumberland, Moore and Beaufort counties illegally canceled the registrations of thousands of voters before the 2016 election and are prohibited from similarly purging their voter rolls in the future based on challenges by activists, a federal judge has ruled. In the weeks leading up to the November 2016 election, one Cumberland County resident representing the Voter Integrity Project of NC challenged 4,000 voters and a voter representing the Moore Voter Integrity Project challenged almost 500 Moore County voters. Four people in Beaufort County challenged about 140 voters there. The three county elections board sustained the challenges in most cases, canceling the registrations of about 3,900 voters.

UNC BOARD OF GOVERNORS ACCUSED OF PARTISANSHIP BY FORMER MEMBERS: A bipartisan group of former UNC Board of Governors members have spoken out against the current board, calling its recent deliberations “clearly bad governance.” In an unusual step, 10 former members signed an opinion published Wednesday on the Higher Education Works Foundation website, criticizing the board for being too driven by politics. Higher Education Works is a bipartisan group that advocates for higher education in North Carolina. “Unfortunately, it appears our Board of Governors has become increasingly politicized, and some members are conflicted,” the piece said. “Politics has no place in the selection of members, and any conflicts of interest must be avoided. Boards must have a high level of independence and professionalism to be effective.”

JUDICIAL VACANCY AMENDMENT COULD BE USED AS VEHICLE TO DODGE GUBERNATORIAL VETOES: State Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat and attorney, proposed a bill that would clarify the judicial vacancy amendment to block the attachment of other bills. But Republican leaders didn’t consider it. “Given the opportunity to fix this — and the decision not to — it’s pretty clear they like the idea of passing a constitutional amendment that will let them circumvent a governor’s veto whenever they want,” Jackson tweeted recently. Josh Stein, the Democratic state attorney general, has made the same argument. To support Jackson’s claim, his office provided an interpretation from the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Legislative Analysis Division. “Because there is no restriction on adding other matters to these judicial vacancy bills, a court could reasonably interpret that a judicial vacancy bill and legislation on other matters is not subject to the Governor’s veto. Because this would be new language in the Constitution if adopted this fall, a decision on how to interpret and apply that language would ultimately be made by the courts,” Kara A. McCraw, staff attorney and legislative analyst, told his office in a July 31 email.

UNC REVISING HEALTH TEXTBOOK THAT BLAMED HOLOCAUST VICTIMS FOR "GIVING UP.": The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has revised a textbook for a required fitness course that called cancer “a disease of choice” and included a theory asserting Holocaust victims failed to tap into their inner strength. The university released a statement saying revisions to “21st Century Fitness” began in spring, in cooperation with the publisher, The News & Observer reported Tuesday. The university had made no mention of a revision when the Raleigh newspaper asked about the online textbook’s contents last month. The textbook is part of online courseware sold by Perceivant to multiple universities, and was authored by two Brigham Young University faculty members. Perceivant’s director of collegiate partnerships, Joel Davis, told the newspaper that its contracts allow universities to customize content based on its individual needs. It’s read by students in the one-credit course Lifetime Fitness, which assigns students reading material on lifestyles while incorporating physical activity. It’s required of all undergraduates, with nearly 5,000 taking the class each year.

TRUMP-LOVING REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN INDICTED FOR INSIDER TRADING: According to the indictment, Collins was attending the Congressional Picnic at the White House on June 22, 2017, when he received an email from the company's chief executive saying that a trial of a drug the company developed to treat multiple sclerosis was a clinical failure. After a public announcement, the company's stock price plunged 92 percent. Within minutes of receiving the bad news, Collins used a phone to try to "reach his son six times in five minutes," Berman said. "And then on the seventh attempt, he got through to his son and, as alleged in the indictment, he illegally relayed the results of that drug test so his son could trade on that information." The next morning, according to the indictment, Collins began selling his shares, unloading enough over a two-day period to avoid $570,900 in losses before the public announcement of the drug trial results. Prosecutors said the son traded on the inside information and passed it to a third defendant, Stephen Zarsky. Their combined trades avoided over $768,000 in losses, authorities said. They said Zarsky traded on it and tipped off at least three others.