Commentary, News

Elections watchdog slams political “slush fund” legislation; calls for McCrory veto

Good government and clean elections watchdog Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina issued a strong statement this morning condemning the bill passed by state lawmakers this week to move the state’s 2016 primary election to March. As Hall explains, the bill also contains “an unrelated terrible section that will greatly expand pay-to-play politics in North Carolina.” This is from the statement:

Section 3 of H-373 calls these slush funds “affiliated party committees,” but they are actually bank accounts completely controlled by one person – either the House Speaker, Senate President Pro Tem, or the House or Senate minority party leader. No money may be “expended except when authorized by the leader.”

Unlike a legislator’s campaign account, these new slush funds can accept limitless donations from lobbyists or corporations, even while the legislature is in session. Duke Energy, hog barons, gambling interests or a private contractor could pour money into a fund as a key bill is being debated. The money can be used to help elect or defeat candidates or for “daily operations” deemed relevant to the leader.

These changes take us backwards. They undercut the reforms adopted after the deal-making scandals involving House Speaker Jim Black a decade ago. They give wealthy special interests new ways to dominate NC politics. And they create new ways for legislative leaders to sell access, steer money into their pet causes, and exert control over other legislators.

Gov. Pat McCrory should veto this corrosive expansion of power for elites in the General Assembly. As a candidate, he pledged to fight pay-to-play politics and corruption. Now he has the opportunity to show leadership by vetoing this bill and calling for new legislation that only changes the primary election date.

Here are links to the bill and legislative staff’s summary:
http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/H373-2015.pdf
http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/H373-2015-Summary.pdf

Here are two news stories about the changes:
http://abc11.com/politics/legislators-vote-for-all-nc-primaries-in-march/999421/
http://www.wral.com/bill-creating-new-political-party-organs-stirs-conflict-among-nc-republicans/14923774/#6tgCeZDOgXvQxlci.99

Check Also

This week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

Full coverage of the 9th District hearing and ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Richard Burr is in the awkward position of investigating whether his ally in the [...]

Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris had no idea Wednesday that his son would would take t [...]

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson on Tuesday released a lengthy list of educat [...]

President Trump’s national emergency declaration, long teased, is in effect. Let the lawsuits begin. [...]

There was much talk this week and last about state Superintendent Mark Johnson’s Tuesday night limel [...]

Many of us may remember the often very implausible notions we had of “where babies come from” when w [...]

Just about anything can happen in American politics. Those who doubt this oft-demonstrated truism ne [...]

Editor's note: Kim Mackey is a social studies teacher with Wake County Public Schools. She rece [...]