republican corruption

Billionaire trying to take over NC schools gave $50,000 to Dan Forest

And since Dan Forest will have a vote on who wins the contract, the conflict of interest is glaringly obvious:

John Bryan has contributed about $600,000 to legislative candidates in North Carolina, most of them Republicans, and GOP political committees from 2011 to 2016. Included is a $100,000 contribution to a group supporting GOP candidates for the state Supreme Court. He contributed $50,000 to a political action committee called Truth & Prosperity, set up to support Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Forest is a member of the State Board of Education, which will help select which companies are chosen.

Forest said in an interview earlier this year that he did not know why Bryan contributed to the PAC.

Whether you know or don't know why is beside the point; at minimum, you should recuse yourself from any actions dealing with the Innovative School District. But the best way to handle this would be to resign your seat on the State Board of Education entirely. Because make no mistake, this story is not going to "fade away" like you're hoping it will.

Democracy NC wants BoE to probe Forest television studio issue

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Somebody needs to look that gift camera in the mouth:

A voting rights organization has asked North Carolina election officials to scrutinize spending by a nonprofit group for equipment for a television studio in the office of Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

Democracy North Carolina Executive Director Bob Hall wrote a letter Monday to the state elections board seeking review of $60,000 in purchases by what’s called the North Carolina Promotion and Development Fund. WRAL-TV reported the fund owns the equipment, which Forest can use to produce videos about issues important to him. One fund donor is a longtime Forest supporter.

And while they're at it, they might as well look into all the renovations this same supporter did to the Hawkins-Harnett House, which this little blurb leads people to believe Forest paid for it himself:

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates taken into custody

Hopefully this is just the tip of the Trumpberg:

The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump's former Campaign Chairman, were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president's first year in office. Also charged was Manafort's former business associate Rick Gates, who was also told to surrender on Monday, the person said.

Mr. Gates is a longtime protege and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies Mr. Manafort's firm set up in Cyprus, to receive payments from politicians and business people in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by the New York Times show. Mr Manafort has been under investigation for violation of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.

This is good news, but if Mueller really wants to get into money laundering, he needs to take a look at condos and apartments Trump has been selling to Russian crime-lords. That's a big, stinking mess, and one that should have already gotten Trump put behind bars. *Edited to add* Here's a link to the indictment, and it's a doozy.

Bill Brisson takes off his donkey mask and declares for the GOP

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out:

Democratic Rep. Bill Brisson announced Wednesday he will change his party registration and run for a seventh term as a Republican. Democrats now hold just 45 seats in the 120-member House.

Brisson, 71, represents parts of Bladen, Sampson, and Johnston counties. He has been a Republican ally for years. At times during his career, Brisson provided Republicans with crucial votes on important bills. For example, he and four other Democrats helped Republicans override former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s budget vetoes in 2011.

That tear you see slowly coursing down my cheek is one of joy and relief, so don't fret yourself over my condition.

Just what we need, another Berger sizzling on the political grill

Rockingham Vice Commissioner Berger (ugh) wants to join Guilford in attacking the News & Record:

During Monday’s regular meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved a resolution requesting the North Carolina General Assembly to allow the publication of legal notices on the county-maintained website.

The resolution reads as a “response to technological advances” and cites the 2016 FCC Broadband Progress Report, which says 95 percent of Rockingham County residents have broadband coverage, as a reason for the change. It also takes aim at the “less than 4,000” subscription rate for local publication RockinghamNow, as well as the 5,900 total subscribed to Greensboro News & Record’s Rockingham section.

Sorry about the picture, but I just wanted to make sure you didn't overlook my comments about the existence of a 3rd f**king Berger on the loose.

The NRA has invested over ten million in Burr & Tillis

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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:

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