Commentary

Sigh…legislature will convene this week and then adjourn for two weeks to rake in PAC/lobbyist cash

Rep. David Lewis

Rep. David Lewis

In case you’ve been wondering about the General Assembly’s plans for the coming weeks, a recent email from one of House Speaker Tim Moore’s top lieutenants makes things distressingly clear. In a plea for cash sent out by Rep. David Lewis, the powerful Harnett County Republican and Rules Committee chair reveals that: a) lawmakers will convene tomorrow and then adjourn right away for two weeks and b) lawmakers will be only too happy to welcome contributions from PACs (and, presumably, lobbyists) during the interim that would be impossible if lawmakers were to remain in session.

This is from Lewis’ solicitation:

“Dear Friends,

Please join us for Rep. David Lewis’ first event of 2017 on Wednesday – January 18 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Caffe Luna in Raleigh.  An invitation and reply form are attached for your convenience.

Rep. Lewis welcomes your PAC contributions and Sponsorships and asks that PACs wishing to contribute make their checks payable to David Lewis for NC House and mail to….

The legislature will be in session on January 11 and again beginning on January 25.  We would greatly appreciate receiving PAC contributions from January 12 through January 24 as the campaign is not permitted to receive PAC checks while the legislature is in session.

The campaign in accordance with NC General Statute 163.278.13C is prohibited from accepting contributions collected, transferred, or delivered from lobbyists.

We greatly appreciate your generous and steadfast support.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that contributions from lobbyists are not actually prohibited if individuals who plan to lobby in 2017 haven’t officially registered for the year yet — something that many might be deferring given the fact that the session won’t really get going in earnest until later in the month. What better way to curry favor on Jones Street immediately prior to the session than for lobbyists and PACs they control to pony up some big cash?

It should also be noted at this point that the idea of a two week break after the new General Assembly is officially installed actually makes some sense. The idea, which was instituted a few years back, is intended to avoid the phenomenon that used to plague the General Assembly in which lawmakers sat around with nothing to do for weeks collecting their per diem checks while leaders figured out how to appoint committees, assign offices, etc. Unfortunately, being in the kind of jobs in which one if almost compelled never to miss a chance to ask for money has led lawmakers to take advantage of the two week adjournment in a very unfortunate way. Hence, Lewis’ cash call.

Sadly and predictably, the last chance fundraising binge will be not be confined to the majority party. Among others, the House Democrats have already scheduled their own PAC-friendly fundraiser for the evening of January 24 — the day before the session convenes for good. All in all, the whole sad story is another powerful reminder of why our state desperately needs to revive its move toward voter owned elections that Republicans so unfortunately repealed when they took power a few years back.

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