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The watchdogs at Democracy NC just released the following:

Data Highlight: McCrory’s Sweetheart Deal with Duke Energy

In a remarkable sweetheart deal anchored with $1 million in campaign contributions, Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration yesterday agreed to settle a lawsuit against Duke Energy’s pollution of drinking water supplies in western North Carolina. Millions of tons of ash residue from Duke’s power plants have leaked contaminants into MountainIslandLake near Charlotte and the French BroadRiver near Asheville.

The problems have been known for years, but McCrory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources signed an agreement that delays remedial action, calls for more study of the pollution, and fines Duke a piddling $99,112. Given Duke’s $19.6 billion in 2012 operating revenues, that’s the equivalent of fining a person with a $60,000 salary a total of 30 cents.

Under the agreement, Duke receives amnesty for its previous pollution, can continue leaching contaminants into the water, and gets to decide when its research shows that the contamination is significant enough to address. Gov. McCrory is largely turning over his responsibility to protect the public’s health to his former employer. The agreement is subject to 30 days of public comment before it can become effective.

Here are two news stories: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/07/15/4166607/duke-energy-state-to-settle-ash.html and http://blogs2.citizen-times.com/outdoors/2013/07/15/nc-proposes-coal-ash-lawsuit-settlement-with-duke-energy/

The cozy relationship between Duke Energy and the McCrory administration becomes clearer when you follow the political money….

Read the rest of the release by clicking here.

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In case you missed it, Billy Corriher, a native North Carolinian and current Associate Director of Research at Legal Progress– a branch of the Washington, DC-based Center for American Progress — has an excellent “For the record” essay in the Charlotte Observer.

How Art Pope killed a popular judicial financing program

This is the story of how one very wealthy man stopped a government program endorsed by three North Carolina governors (two Republicans and a Democrat), most of the judges from both parties on the state’s top courts, and hundreds of civic and business leaders. Read More

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In case you missed it, the Fayetteville Observer had this to say over the weekend about the issue of recent campaign contributions from corrupt gambling interests to Gov. McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Berger, Speaker Tillis and others:

“It’s clear that campaign-finance reforms haven’t gone far enough. The laws may be better, but enforcement is weak.

The Board of Elections needs to conduct a full, unbiased and public investigation that follows the money wherever it goes.

And the General Assembly needs to follow up by giving state regulators the tools they need to spot illegal campaign contributions quickly.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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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