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Veteran state capital journalist Scott Mooneyham frequently has some of the best takes on the developments in Raleigh and the column cross-posted below (which was distributed yesterday by the NC Insider) is another example:

Your Winnings, Sir
By Scott Mooneyham
March 18, 2013

RALEIGH — One of the most fascinating news conferences that I ever attended came during the tenure of former Democratic state House Speaker Jim Black.

Black was defending legislation to legalize video poker, trying to make the point that the industry created jobs. My predecessor in this columnist gig, Paul O’Connor, had a simple question for the House speaker: How about prostitution?

“It’s jobs too,” O’Connor said.

He wasn’t serious about legalizing prostitution. O’Connor was trying to make the point that plenty of other morally questionable and currently illegal behavior could generate jobs too, if that were the only criteria that lawmakers need consider. Read More

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As the good people at Democracy NC point out in the lengthy statement below, the new controversey over an alleged racketeer with big campaign finance connections to North Carolina’s political power structure raises some important and disturbing questions:

Sweepstakes Gambling Operator is Top Donor to NC Legislators; Donations with Ties to McCrory’s Law Firm Raise Questions

The man at the center of a national gambling scandal that caused Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll of Florida to resign last week played a surprisingly large – and mysterious – role in financing North Carolina politicians in 2012, according to new research by the election reform group Democracy North Carolina: Read More

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The outside spending spree on the race for a seat on North Carolina’s Supreme Court continues to set records. As Raleigh’s News & Observer reported this morning, a conservative group spent $1.3 million on one TV ad alone.

Interestingly, the spree has given rise to competing views from thoughtful sources as to what, if anything, we should do about all this.

The Charlotte Observer says that enough is enough:   Read More

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This is just in from the good people at Democracy North Carolina:

Legislative Leaders Are Setting Record for Fundraising from Special Interests; Speaker’s Solicitation Called “Shakedown

Despite efforts to reduce the influence of lobbyists and special interests in political fundraising, the top leaders of the NC General Assembly are on pace to break two records, according to a review of disclosure reports by the watchdog group Democracy North Carolina:

(1) they are raising more money from special-interest political action committees (PACs) than any of their predecessors, and

(2) they are relying more heavily on PACs to reach and exceed the large fundraising totals of past legislative leaders – in the range of $1 million and beyond. Read More

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NC Voters for Clean Elections is out with a new and, sadly, not terribly surprising report on the big campaign money flowing from the pro-fracking crowd. This is from the release that accompanied the report:

RALEIGH, N.C. – As North Carolina lawmakers take up a new bill on hydraulic fracturing, the much-debated energy drilling method commonly known as “fracking,” a new report finds that energy interests tied to fracking gave campaign contributions to more than 100 state legislators between 2009 and 2011.

The report by N.C. Voters for Clean Elections, a state coalition focused on the role of money in politics, also finds that legislators who supported a pro-fracking bill in 2011 received more than triple the amount of campaign money from energy interests than did opponents of the legislation. Read More