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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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Leaders in both major political parties in North Carolina have been guilty through the years of engaging in “pay-to-play” politics. Former Democratic House Speaker Jim Black was, of course, the poster child for this kind of corruption and wound up in prison as a result.

Now, this week, comes word of another disturbing pay-to-play incident in the state House.

As reported by Greensboro’s Yes Weekly and Raleigh’s News & Observer a candidate for the state House of Representatives told a group of Winston-Salem businesspeople the other day that she needed to raise more money for the House Republican cause in order to get a better committee assignment should she be elected to the House this fall. Read More

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Good to see that reforms have really slammed that doggone revolving door shut at the General Assembly. A few weeks ago it was former Speaker Harold Brubaker resigning mid-term and announcing plans to cash in by becoming a consultant and lobbyist. Now, this week’s it’s a powerful state Senator.

According to WRAL’s Mark Binker, Senator Richard Stevens, a Republican and one of the Senate’s most influential members, resigned from the state Senate on Friday. It’s all happened so fast that it’s not yet been noted on the General Assembly’s website.

Today he was at work at a big downtown law firm with a large portfolio of high-profile corporate lobbying clients.

Or at least it sure looked like he was already at work when he was having lunch today in a public restaurant in downtown Raleigh with his new colleague, one of the firm’s top lobbyists. 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