republican corruption

Bumpy road ahead for Robert Pittenger in NC9

Might be time to sell some of that property, dude:

In a much more expensive race in North Carolina’s 9th District, Republican incumbent Robert Pittenger is facing well-financed challengers in both the primary and the general. Pittenger is seen as vulnerable in the general election and has raised $780,000 compared to his Democratic challenger Dan McCready’s $1.2 million.

First, he needs to fend off his primary challenger — pastor and activist Mark Harris — who has raised more than twice as much money from individual donors as Pittenger. Harris also has nearly as much cash on hand as does Pittenger ($221,911 compared to Pittenger’s $286,607). Harris was narrowly defeated by Pittenger in 2016, so this race looks like a tight one for Pittenger both in May and November, if it makes it that far.

Just like last time around, I am torn on who to favor (or who to disfavor the most) in the GOP Primary. Pittenger has always been a greedy, opportunistic douchenozzle, but Mark Harris is a born-again, bigoted nut-job. He's guaranteed to be a champion of anti-choice legislation, and would likely take up the new approach of whittling down the number of weeks women have to legally terminate unwanted pregnancies. And of course he will oppose LGBT rights at every turn, just like he championed the ugliness of Amendment One here in NC. This article was found on his campaign page, and the recurring theme is obvious:

Patrick McHenry goes swimming with the loan sharks

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Proving that weasels can swim if the mood hits them:

If you ever harbor any questions as to what Trumpism looks like in all of its corrupt, dog-eat-dog, predatory splendor, there are two classic examples from our nation’s capital today to jog your memory.

Exhibit One is the laughably entitled “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017” — a bill on which the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today at the behest of its chief sponsor, North Carolina congressman Patrick McHenry. As you probably surmised, the measure has nothing to do with protecting consumers and is instead a blatant attempt by the payday lending industry’s favorite congressman to revive the discredited and predatory practice nationwide.

Just to give you an idea of the level of corruption that creeps in with some of these "career" lawmakers, McHenry receives around $100,000 from the payday lending industry every election cycle. They may not always be his top contributors, but they are as reliable as the sun coming up every morning. This pay-to-play nonsense is so blatant it has sparked more than one formal complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics:

Legislative malpractice: Using school children to extort money and power

See below for excerpts of the bill's text:

Russia's top spy chiefs meet with US officials days before sanctions (were supposed to be) enforced

Sanctions? We're not worried about any stinking sanctions:

Russia's U.S. ambassador said Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, was in the United States to discuss counterterrorism with his American counterparts. Naryshkin was accompanied at the meeting in Washington by Alexander Bortnikov, who directs the top KGB successor agency known as the Federal Security Service.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the timing of the meeting is suspicious because it came just days before the Trump administration decided not to issue new sanctions against Russian politicians and oligarchs over Russian interference in the election. He released a letter early Thursday demanding that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats disclose details of the meeting by Feb. 9. Schumer said sanctions against Naryshkin impose severe financial penalties and prohibit his entry into the U.S. without a waiver.

Allowing these two (supposedly) sanctioned Russian spies into the country, not to mention meeting with them, is a message on its own. But what was discussed/conveyed at this meeting is of critical importance, as Schumer said. Keep in mind, even if Trump wasn't immediately informed of the proceedings (I'm sure he was), he gets a daily intelligence briefing after he finishes his cranky Twitter ablutions and crawls out of bed. We'll let Vladimir Putin fill in the missing information in his own words:

Trump White House: A culture of unethical behavior

It doesn't take a year to fill out financial disclosure forms:

A year into Donald Trump’s presidency, records show five of his top staffers still have not secured final approval of their financial reports — disclosures that are required by law to ensure Americans that these senior officials aren’t personally benefiting from their White House jobs. Another four staffers received certification by the Office of Government Ethics after McClatchy first requested their forms last month.

The delay is likely due to Trump staffers either refusing to disclose mandated information to OGE, failing to resolve a conflict of interest or violating an ethics law or regulation, according to two ethics experts familiar with the long-standing process.

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, personally profits from government actions it helps facilitate like a duck, it's probably a corrupt duck. While a U.S. President (is supposed to) provide a leadership example for the rest of the world, he (or she) also provides an example to Cabinet and staff. And apparently Trump's example is, "We are above the law, and we can do whatever the hell we want." Here are a few of the more questionable violators:

And they shall be ruled by a Conspiracy Theorist

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This man is not fit to be President of a homeowner's association:

President Donald Trump accused the Justice Department Tuesday of being part of the “deep state” and urged prosecution against a top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey. Trump’s latest tweets pressed familiar arguments for the president, who is set to begin his first full year in office with the victory of tax legislation but the Russia investigation still hanging over his administration.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents,” Trump tweeted in an apparent reference to a report by the conservative Daily Caller. “Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others,” he added.

This "Deep State" thing has, for several years, been the clarion call of some of the most dangerous right-wing extremist groups. What Trump doesn't understand (because he's an idiot) is the true nature of the meme: The bureaucracy is a product of the Executive Branch, so Trump is really complaining about his own inability to control what he's supposed to be in charge of. It's a false meme of course, because the vast majority of Federal government employees operate under Constitutional Statutory guidance, but the ignorant love to create monsters out of thin air. Now we're going to switch to an article that explores some of the challenges Democratic Congressional candidates will likely face in the run up to November:

This is how good state government deals with a sold-out FCC

Reason #54 why we need to take back the NC General Assembly:

Inslee’s proposal, which makes Washington state the first in the nation to act on net neutrality, includes pursuing the following actions:

Direct the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to establish a process for ISPs to certify that they will not engage in practices inconsistent with net neutrality principles. Limit state-conferred benefits to ISPs that have made such certifications. Limit applicability of UTC pole attachment rules to ISPs that are net neutral. Use the state government’s role as a big customer, and our ability to establish state master contracts used by local governments, to incentivize Washington companies to adhere to net neutrality principles. Pursue regulatory and legislative action to award contracts to vendors that meet net neutral business requirements. Lead the exploration of a multi-state purchasing cooperative to procure internet service from providers that adhere to net neutrality principles. Collaborate with legislators to strengthen our consumer protection laws to include the principles of net neutrality. Pursue legislation authorizing public utility districts and rural and urban port districts to provide retail ISP and telecommunications services.

As you can see, several of those actions would be impossible to implement with GOP control of our Legislature, and some (most?) of the other actions could/would be quickly undermined by the same. Which brings up another (broader) issue that Progressive activists need to keep in mind: I'm starting to see more of these, "Why doesn't Roy Cooper do this or that thing I want? He's just as bad as the Republicans!" Understand, we put him in the Governor's mansion, but we also crippled him in the process. Governor Cooper is held hostage by a supermajority that is hell-bent on stripping his powers and defunding his administration, but he's still made more progress for our state than McCrory did his entire tenure. Context is important, so put that energy to work where it's needed.

New York AG files lawsuit against FCC over Net Neutrality vote

And rumor has it Josh Stein just added NC to the effort:

Citing his investigation into the FCC’s public comments process preceding the vote, Schneiderman declared his office’s intention to sue to “stop the FCC’s illegal rollback of net neutrality” — a forthcoming legal challenge that’s sure to be in good company. In response to questions from TechCrunch, Schneiderman’s office noted that he will spearhead a multi-state lawsuit and that we can expect it “in the coming days.”

“We will be filing a claim to preserve protections for New Yorkers and all Americans. And we’ll be working aggressively to stop the FCC’s leadership from doing any further damage to the internet and to our economy,” Schneiderman said in a press release.

Hopefully they'll be able to get an injunction put in place with the quickness, before we start seeing shenanigans with our Internet access.

Blue Monday kicks off 120 seat strategy for retaking the General Assembly

Say hello to Army veteran and cancer warrior Dr. Rick Foulke:

Today, we rank 35th in teacher pay (41st in 2016) and 43rd in per capita student spending in the whole nation. Our quality teachers are leaving for other states every day because of low pay and lack of respect. Our politicians have played partisan games with our lives by refusing to expand Medicaid. As a physician, Rick Foulke saw first hand- every single day- how important it is to have access to quality healthcare.

Rick was successful because of his hard work and the opportunities afforded to him by the Army. Just as the Army invested in him, Rick believes we must invest in our best and brightest minds, regardless of race or income or social status.

I firmly believe we need to field more veterans as Democratic candidates, for both state and federal offices. And it's not just to swing votes, although I do believe it may be the best way to do that. It's also about integrity and self-discipline, which are traits sometimes hard to detect in more polished politicians. And it's also about representation: About 9% of North Carolinians are veterans, and we have a huge active duty military presence here, as well. They need to know the Democratic Party not only welcomes them, but values their experience and knowledge.

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.

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