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videopoker2-08Will the new State Board of Elections be a genuine watchdog or a rubber stamp for political powers that be? Today’s initial meeting of the new group appointed by Governor McCrory should provide some interesting signals.

As Mark Binker reported earlier this week at WRAL.com:

“Aside from appointing new leaders, one of the first decisions facing the newly appointed board will be whether to proceed with an investigation into campaign donations from owners of electronic sweepstakes companies. Those companies are pushing for legislation that would legalize the gambling-like games.

Current board members have said they were ready to direct the staff to pursue an investigation of whether top leaders such as McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis, and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger received corporate contributions from a sweepstakes software provider. “

Here is a link to a summary of the complaint filed by Democracy NC about the very troubling sweepstakes issue, which among other things, involves Gov. McCrory’s former employer (a law/lobbying firm) and bundled checks to the Governor’s campaign.

Stay tuned.

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.

Former N.C. state Rep. Stephen LaRoque will go to trial in May at the federal courthouse in Greenville on charges of stealing from two federally-funded economic development charities.

In a court order filed last week, U.S. Senior District Judge Malcolm J. Howard set a May 20 trial date for LaRoque, a former member of House leadership who resigned after his indictment last July on federal charges. Howard will preside over LaRoque’s jury trial.

Federal prosecutors believe LaRoque used public money from two economic development non-profits he ran for his own purposes, including buying replica Faberge eggs and diamond jewelry for his wife and a Greenville ice-skating rink run by family members. Read More

In case you missed it in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer, lawyer Alicia Bannon of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University authored a powerful plea for state lawmakers to keep our state’s excellent public fundingsystem for judicial candidates:

“Voters and judges in North Carolina agree that justice should not be for sale. Unfortunately, the legislature and governor look poised to eliminate a successful program that helps judicial candidates say no to special interest money. Read More

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