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Faberge Imperial Egg, Va. Museum of Fine Arts.

N.C. Rep. Stephen LaRoque apparently had a thing for Fabergé eggs, jeweled collectibles that fetch high prices and are often emblazoned with gold, rubies and diamonds.

The Kinston lawmaker’s weakness for reproductions of the elaborately-decorated eggs that now symbolize the wrongs of pre-Revolution Russia came out this week, when LaRoque was indicted by a federal grand jury and accused of using federal money to support his own lavish lifestyle.

N.C. Rep. Stephen LaRoque (R-Kinston)

Deep inside the 72-page indictment are mentions of purchases LaRoque made of a dozen Fabergé  eggs, spending more than $24,000 on the decorative collector items at shops in a Las Vegas casino and upscale mall in Northern Virginia.

The eggs LaRoque bought are most certainly reproductions – only 57 of the actual Fabergé  eggs are thought to exist and aren’t really the type of things that have price tags.

The real Imperial Fabergé  eggs were jewel-encrusted gifts that Tsar Alexander III bestowed on his wife for Easter, and came to represent the lavish and extravagance of the pre-Revolution Russian dynasties. Smaller decorated egg-shaped pendants were also made by the revered jewelry house, and worn as necklaces. Read More

Reporter Craig Jarvis of Raleigh’s News & Observer tweeted this afternoon that House Speaker Thom Tillis referred the indictment of Rep. Stephen LaRoque to the House Ethics Committee this morning.

This certainly sounds like an appropriate action and at least a first step in dealing with the scandal.

As this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing detailed, however, a) it’s been a long, darn time in coming, and b) there would appear to be a lot more to be done. Let’s hope more action is in the offing.

 

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Lost thus far this morning in all the kind tweets and other complimentary statements about former North Carolina House Speaker Harold Brubaker in response to his announcement that he is resigning from the General Assembly after 35 years in Raleigh, is this very depressing and yet predictable part of the story. It’s the last paragraph in AP reporter Gary Robertson’s story:

“Brubaker said in a statement he would expand his business to include consulting and lobbying work, with help from his son. State law would permit Brubaker to register as a lobbyist early next year as the next two-year General Assembly session begins in January.”

In other words, at a time in which Republican lobbyists have never been more influential in Raleigh, Brubaker is cashing in while the cash is good. It won’t be long until the state’s largest corporations are beating a path to his door.

The bottom line: Brubaker may be a pleasant-enough guy, but the next time some conservative friend rails to you about career politicians and good ol’ boys, you might want to remind them of how one of the state’s longest-serving and most prominent conservative elected officials has become the latest poster child for the system they decry.    

 

We’ve written a lot on this website about the ways in which corporate overlords are gradually buying up our core public structures and converting them into private assets that can be squeezed and otherwise manipulated to maximize profits. Still, it’s always powerful to learn of new, brazen examples of this process in action.

Take for example this story on Blue NC this morning documenting the relationship between a leading candidate for Governor and a private “infrastructure” company with a less-than-stellar record in a neighboring state. The formula is startlingly simple and works well with politicians of both parties: Read More

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Reporter Mark Binker has a very thorough write-up of this morning’s N.C. Policy Watch/Common Cause Crucial Conversation breakfast on the subject of fighting big money in politics with Professor Lawrence Lessig. For those who couldn’t make the event, please check it out.

We hope to have a video of the entire speech (which was really a very entertaining, fast-paced, multi-media program) posted to the main NC Policy Watch website later today so stay tuned.