republican corruption

The NRA has invested over ten million in Burr & Tillis

burrtillis.jpeg

Don't expect any sensible gun regulations any time soon:

NRA groups have spent nearly $7 million on behalf of Burr. That includes $5.6 million that NRA groups spent last year against his Democratic opponent, Deborah Ross. That was more than the NRA spent against any candidate with the exception of Hillary Clinton.

And Tillis has gotten $4.5 million in help, including independent expenditures against his 2014 opponent, then-incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.

Considering there have been 273 mass shootings (4 or more people shot) in the last year, it's not a huge stretch to describe this as blood money. You know what else this signifies? The NRA was scared shitless they could lose these statewide races in North Carolina. You know, like they did when Roy Cooper retook the Governor's mansion for the Democratic Party. Think on that.

Pittenger leans on Karl Rove for fundraising shortfall

Brother Jerry Williamson has the low-down:

Pittenger's seat had already been targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and it looks as though solar energy financier and Marine veteran Dan McCready is the DCCC pick (although there are a couple of other Democrats in the race, including the man who lost to Pittenger in the general election of 2016).

The Karl Rove appearance looks like flop sweat to Erik Spanberg. He writes, "A Republican insider told me Tuesday that, while Rove remains a reliable draw for GOP donors, he also represents the anti-Trump wing of the party. He makes it hard for Pittenger to say, ‘I’m a Trump Republican’ because Rove has been so critical of President Trump.” If Pittenger makes it through the primary with Harris, he's going to be potentially damaged goods in the general elections of 2018.

Maybe, but I've got two words that make that last part a little iffy: Luther Strange, who lost the Alabama GOP US Senate Primary by almost ten points, after being endorsed by Trump. Don't get me wrong, I think Dan McCready is a fantastic candidate, and would cut the margin closer than anybody else. But Pittenger beat Christian Cano 58% to 42%, even after a bitter and nail-bitingly close Primary with *reverend* Mark Harris.

Grand Theft Auto: Private contractors "misplace" hundreds of seized vehicles

Rep. David Lewis got a lot more 'splainin' to do, Lucy:

Private contractors responsible for towing, storing and auctioning off cars seized from impaired drivers and people accused of fleeing police cannot account for 234 vehicles, valued at nearly $634,000, according to a state audit report released this week.

Under a state program, vehicles operated by drivers who were arrested for repeat driving-while-impaired offenses or speeding to elude arrest were to be seized, maintained, stored, and sold by two contractors.

You know, aside from the apparent corruption and pay-to-play politics exposed here, I have a big problem with the seizure of private property associated with *all* criminal activity, but especially something as mundane as traffic offenses, even those as disgusting as drinking and driving. The criminal justice system is punitive and costly enough as it is, and government taking private property just seems excessive, and probably unconstitutional. But that's just me. Here's the pay-to-play part:

Gerrymandering is the result of poor campaigning, not the cause

This may seem like a harsh assessment, but denying it won't help:

It comforts some Democrats to believe that gerrymandering and voter suppression are behind this debacle. That’s a rationalization, not an explanation: You can’t gerrymander Senate seats and governorships, and before Republicans could use such tactics, they had to win control of state legislatures in the first place. The GOP gains in these areas have come partly from a concerted effort, more than a dozen years old, to invest money and effort in winning these races. This is slow, unglamorous work, but it is paying off. By contrast, Democrats are more than eager to attend fundraisers for the next bright, shiny presidential contender or hot special-election candidate. Organizing to win back the North Carolina legislature? Not so much.

We've got roughly 13 months before the 2018 Election, in which *all* the General Assembly seats will be up for grabs, and all 13 US Congressional seats will be contested. The last time around, we set our sights on one narrow goal, to pick up a handful of seats in the NC House to undo the GOP's Veto-proof majority. That failed. Miserably. But now I'm hearing the same thing for 2018. And somehow, if we do that this time, this will give us the momentum to take back both houses in 2020. But the problem is, those 2020 district races will have the same partisan demographics that are in place for 2018. What's going to change in that two-year span to bring about this magical result? A couple of truisms: If it's impossible now, it will be impossible in 2020. By the same token, if it will be possible in 2020, then it is possible for 2018.

On the NC GOP's failed effort to replace a judge

They don't come any sleazier than Robin Hayes:

Democrat Roy Cooper would become governor in several weeks and Robin Hayes, the former U.S. congressman on the other end of the line, wanted McCullough to consider resigning early from his elected seat so Republican Pat McCrory could appoint a replacement in the waning days of his administration. The Republicans not only had lost the governor’s office with Cooper’s victory. They also had lost a majority on the state Supreme Court in the November elections.

That phone call from North Carolina’s Republican Party chairman over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend last year illustrates how the political focus on North Carolina’s courts has sharpened in recent years and shows no signs of easing anytime soon.

I have even more respect for Judge McCullough after reading this than I did earlier in the year, and that's saying a lot. If we had more Republicans with his level of integrity and backbone, I have a feeling things would be a lot different than they are:

Berger tweaks legislation so fellow Republican can draw two salaries

Can you say Patronage? I knew you could:

A one-sentence change tacked into broader legislation earlier this month helps a single state employee, tweaking state law so he can again get paid to serve on a state commission while on vacation from his full-time state job. Under Gov. Pat McCrory, Peaslee drew his regular state salary and was also paid the daily wage tax commission members get to sit for several days each month hearing appeals from around the state. When Gov. Roy Cooper took office, a new regime at the state Department of Revenue looked at state laws against employees double-dipping on salary and questioned whether Peaslee should draw both paychecks.

Peaslee, a former general counsel for the North Carolina Republican Party, brought the issue before Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and other state legislators. He'd been taking vacation time from his $115,494-a-year job at the Industrial Commission to make $450 to $500 a day at the tax commission. His tax commission pay last year totaled $24,500.

If you're thinking something about this story sounds familiar, it's because NC Republicans are making a habit of using the Industrial Commission to line the pockets of their friends. During one of the grossly unconstitutional Special Sessions of late 2016, Republicans gave authority to McCrory (after he had lost the Election) to appoint his Chief of Staff's wife to a NINE YEAR TERM on the Commission, a million-dollar pat on the back:

263,400 reasons Tillis signed onto letter to pull out of Paris Agreement

tillisderp.jpg

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the oil & gas industry:

So if the U.S. walks away from the agreement, what sort of standard does that set for all of the other countries who signed on? Will they take Trump's lead and withdraw from the pact, as well?

North Carolina Republican senator Thom Tillis doesn't seem too concerned. He was among twenty-two Republican senators who last week signed a letter urging Trump to scrap the deal, according to the Guardian. He was also the beneficiary of $263,400 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies since 2012, according to the same report.

It sure didn't take long for Tillis to jump on the gravy train. And we can expect a lot more sellouts between now and 2020, so he can lock in all that "independent spending" from mystery men who have become reliant on the Senate Corporation, LLC. But I'd like to be a fly on the wall when he explains to his two children why he signed this letter. He won't really suffer much from climate change, but they will.

Democratic Party pushes for candidates who are veterans

Finally doing something that might just work:

Looking ahead to next year's elections, Democrats are trying to recruit at least two dozen military veterans to challenge Republican incumbents, arguing that candidates with military on their resumes appeals to independent voters and can help the party break the GOP grip on Washington.

"Veterans have had the experience of putting the country first, before personal politics" and party dictates, said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass, who did four tours of duty in Iraq, left the Marines as a captain and was elected to Congress in 2014. That tends "to attract the kind of independent voters who are looking for a good leader," Moulton added.

While I may be a little prejudiced in favor of veterans, I have always believed it would be wise for the Democratic Party to field them as candidates. A lot of Democrats are veterans, but we've allowed the GOP to (falsely, in many cases) claim the high ground on veterans' issues, even those who never served. Richard Burr is a prime example, but there are many others. And it's not just Independent voters who may be swayed by a Dem in uniform. North Carolina has the third largest population of active and reserve military voters, with some 129,000 troops, not counting spouses. I've been there, done that, and the first question on my mind before casting my vote was, "Which ones have served in the military?" And as each day brings new embarrassments over Trump, that veteran angle will be even more effective:

Fletcher Hartsell sentenced to 8 months in prison

fletcherhartsellmug.jpg

Considering it could have been 20 years, he got lucky:

A former North Carolina lawmaker accused of misusing more than $200,000 in campaign funds on vacations, speeding tickets, haircuts and other items was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to three charges in the case.

Former longtime state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, who represented Cabarrus and Union counties in the 36th Senate district, was sentenced at the end of a hearing that lasted more than an hour in a federal courtroom in Winston-Salem. Much of the hearing focused on arguments made on behalf of the 70-year-old Hartsell about how much time he would serve behind bars.

While I understand the desire for sympathy and clemency from the bench, I find it distasteful to contemplate that when taking a broader look at our criminal justice system. The parade of exonerated Death Row inmates, most of whom were forced to serve 2-3 decades (for crimes they didn't commit) before they were released, and the ugliness of mandatory minimums in the failed War on Drugs, which has sent countless young African-American men to prison for 15-20 years because they had a couple of rocks of crack in their pocket, makes this 8 month sentence seem like a gentle slap on the wrist in comparison. That's just my take, your mileage may vary.

The power of citizen activism: Greg Flynn shines a light on campaign finance improprieties

If you're fudging your books, he will eventually make you pay for that bad judgment:

In early March, Raleigh political activist Greg Flynn filed complaints with the state board saying the reports don't contain information required by law, have numbers that do not match up and, if correct, would indicate the campaign transferred more than $10,000 to Hise's pocket.

Flynn said this week he doesn't know whether the problems are the result of sloppy bookkeeping or show Hise has used campaign funds to enrich himself. Flynn said he is a Democrat who looks for issues with campaign finance reports filed by candidates from both parties. He said he became interested in Hise's reports when looking into a trip several legislators including Hise took to China that was organized by an industry group.

Trust me when I say, uncovering this information takes time, patience, and a certain level of analytical thinking that escapes most of us. I'd really like to say, "We need to crowdsource this," but I'm not sure this capability can even be taught. I probably don't have it, and I've devoted literally thousands of hours to scrutinizing state and Federal campaign finance records. So I'm giving Greg both a hat-tip and a bow, because this is one of those "services to the public" that just can't be estimated.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - republican corruption