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In case you missed it over the weekend, the Charlotte Observer featured an excellent (if sobering) editorial about how the end of public financing and the massive of influx of dark money is transforming the North Carolina Supreme Court into an institution that’s literally for sale to the highest bidder.

“North Carolinians got their first glimpse of big-money Supreme Court races in 2012. Outside groups funneled about $2.3 million into the state to help incumbent Paul Newby, the conservative in the nonpartisan race. That money swamped the $300,000 or so in outside money aimed at helping opponent Sam Ervin IV.

That was the most outside money of any race in the state other than governor. Newby, buoyed by corny banjo-playing TV actors, won 52 percent to 48 percent. That let conservatives maintain a 4-3 majority on the bench.

Special interests could have even more influence this year thanks to at least three changes in the law: Read More

This just in from the nonpartisan advocates at Democracy NC who, several years ago, helped bring down former House Democratic Speaker Jim Black:

“As Coal Ash Controversy Intensified, Duke Gave Another $437,000 to Help GOP Causes in 2013;
Group Calls on McCrory to Disclose Duke’s Donations to Renew NC

New research by the election reform group Democracy North Carolina indicates that as Duke Energy faced increased pressure from environmental groups over its coal ash pollution, the company stepped up its political operation and donated more than $400,000 during 2013 to North Carolina and national political committees that benefited Republican lawmakers, including the campaign committee of Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Duke executive. Read More

Political contributionsAs this amazing graph from a new report in the Journal of Economic Perspectives shows, there is a pretty straightforward reason that big money has become so unassailable in modern American politics.

Sam Pizzigatti has more at Too Much online and Maureen Dowd touches on the same sobering theme in her weekend broadside at the Clinton wealth machine.

The nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has released a new 105 page report documenting the sins of the 18 “worst governors in America.” The list is divided into three categories: “ringmasters,” “clowns” and “sideshows.” As you can see at page 87 of the report (page 90 of the PDF) Gov. McCrory is included in category #2.

Other prominent governors featured include: Jan Brewer of Arizona, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

According to the report, the criteria used in assessment are: Read More

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.