Carolina Journal: One of N.C. House’s top Dems owed more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes

One of the top Democrats in the state House or Representatives owed more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes, according to court filings and tax records reviewed by the Carolina Journal for this report.

State Rep. Michael Wray

State Rep. Michael H. Wray, a Gaston Democrat serving as the deputy minority leader, owed more than $100,000 for federal, state and local taxes that went unpaid on businesses and properties he owned, according to the investigative report by the Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington. (The Carolina Journal is part of the John Locke Foundation, a conservative Raleigh-based thinktank.)

Wray, who describes himself as a small business owner on his legislative website, has been in the state House since 2005, and recently defeated a Democratic challenger in the Mary primary. He has no Republican opponent in the general election this November for his district in northeastern North Carolina that covers parts of Halifax and Northampton counties.

Federal IRS officials also filed two tax liens in February on Wray’s property in Northampton County, seeking $83,979 in unpaid taxes.

Wray did not respond to requests from the Carolina Journal for comment, though an attorney for Wray told Carrington the taxes had been paid off.

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Candidate for Dem Party chair has a lot of nerve

In case you missed today’s “Follies” edition of the Fitzsimon File, be sure to check it out — especially the part about State Senator Donald Vaughan’s candidacy for chair of the state Democratic Party. As Chris notes, Vaughan is:

“a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national right-wing organization that brings big money interests and conservative state legislators together to develop and promote model bills in state legislatures.

ALEC recently announced it was ending its work on non-economic issues after several major corporations resigned in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida and the controversy about the Stand Your Ground law passed there at the urging of ALEC members.

Common Cause has filed a complaint with the IRS asking that ALEC’s tax-exempt status be revoked because it is a lobbying group.

ALEC has become one of the most visible national symbols of the right-wing policy machine.”

Also, Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies has more details in a special report on Vaughan that you can read by clicking here.



Elon Poll: GOP has advantage, but no groundswell of support in NC

With a little over a month until the mid-term elections, many are predicting a blow-out win for Republicans on the state and national level.

Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University poll, says their latest numbers show Democrats in a difficult position with many likely voters blaming President Obama and the party in power for the duration of the recession and their own economic hardships.

But on the state level, Bacot notes that voters aren’t rushing to support Republicans either. When asked which party they would support this November in the North Carolina state House races, 34% said Democrats, 29% said Republicans, with more than 30% undecided. For the state Senate elections, the numbers were almost identical.

Bacot joins us this week on News & Views to discuss the mood of North Carolina voters, the tea party movement, and how today’s undecided voters will determine which party has the power after November 2nd. For a preview of Hunter Bacot’s radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, please click below:

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“Have You No Sense of Decency, Sir?”

I got to thinking about that famous quote this week as I read about the fawning reception for Rudy Giuliani at the Civitas Institute and about George Tenet’s 4 million dollar book advance.  Here’s what I wonder about.  Since when is it OK for a public official to preside over a disaster and then be paid millions of dollars to tell us about it?  Giuliani received 8 million dollars in speaking fees in 2002 after 9/11.  Now his business group, Giuliani Partners, makes millions “consulting” on security matters.  I mean, who declared him a security expert?  Now I don’t blame Giuliani for 9/11, but does anyone think New York City was well prepared for the disaster from a security standpoint?  Wasn’t it Rudy who stubbornly decided to put the new emergency command center in one of the World Trade Center buildings?  We all know how that worked out.


9/11 has often been called our generation’s “Pearl Harbor.”  Here’s one difference.  Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor, Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, were relieved of their duties following the attack.  Subsequent investigations faulted the men for failing to adopt adequate defense measures.  Both men are demoted and retire in disgrace.


Neither man went on a book tour.  Neither man was asked to give a primetime speech at their party’s political convention.  Neither man was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  I guess FDR knew a thing or two about leadership and accountability in wartime. 


Now, back to the attendees at the Civitas Institute for Giuliani’s speech.  How many of the conservative members, do you think, have called John Edwards a greedy “ambulance chaser?”  Let’s think about Giuliani and Edwards for a moment.


Giuliani presides over a disaster, where a plausible argument can be made that he bears some responsibility.  3000 Americans die.  Rudy decides to work within our capitalist system to maximize the tragedy for his own financial and personal gain.


Edwards, on the other hand, works with families who have been injured through medical negligence or defective products.  He helps them navigate our judicial system as they seek due process for their injuries. True, there is significant financial reward for Edwards, but there is societal good in his role as advocate for those who are less powerful, so that they may seek justice within our legal system.  After all, are we not a nation of laws?


Which man has faced adversity and acted with greater honor?  Which man has exhibited greater character?  Which man has acted with a greater sense of decency, sir?  These are the questions we must honestly ask of ourselves and our public servants.




The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

dixieThe song, first recorded in 1969 by The Band, was of course about the Civil War. But for southern Democrats, the song could just as well have been describing the night of July 2, 1964. That was the night Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act. To this day, debate persists about the future of the Democratic Party in the South. Tom Schaller, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, started the most recent tiff with his book Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.  

Call it the “anti-Southern Strategy.”  Schaller asserts that the Democrats should focus on more fertile areas (Midwest, Mountain West, Southwest) rather than “pandering to the nation’s most conservative voters.” Schaller uses analysis of southern demographics to illustrate why the South is openly hostile to Democrats.

An elegant rebuttal was Bob Moser’s cover story in the Nation (available here). In his essay, “The Way Down South,” Moser believes that the formula for democratic revival in the South is by way of economic populism (i.e. Jim Webb in Virginia). This must-read article is a gem. There are many great quotes from Moser, but one of my favorites is this:

“Many non-Southern progressives still see the region as a dank, magnolia-scented Otherworld where the cultural obsessions of race, religion, and rifles hold white voters together in an unbreakable sway.”

Moser continues, with a condemnation of the Democratic party leaders who are willing to surrender the south:

“It ain’t wise, and it ain’t right”

…and concludes, powerfully, with a quote from Chris Kromm, director of the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham:

“For progressives to give up on the very place where they could argue they are needed the most…would rightfully be viewed as a historic retreat from the party’s commitment to justice for all.”

There have been plenty of spirited interactive discussions on websites on this topic.  For instance, go to Dailykos (courtesy of Greg Flynn and  BlueNC).  Or, read Schaller’s entertaining and vigorous defense of his opinions at TAPPED.  Better yet, go to our comments and start one of your own.  See you there.