Thom TillisIn North Carolina, state laws written in the post-Jim Black era (see in particular G.S. 138A-32) make it illegal for lobbyists to give anything of value to state legislators. As a general matter, the state has a “no cup of coffee” rule; lobbyists can’t buy legislators a round of golf or a lunch or even a mocha latte.

Unfortunately, there remain lots of ways around this prohibition in which lobbyists can funnel cash to powerful politicians. And make no mistake, many politicians aren’t shy about explaining this to lobbyists.

Consider the latest fundraising solicitation from House Speaker Thom Tillis (pictured at left) and the North Carolina Republican House Caucus.

After inviting all-comers to pay up to $10,000 to get 12 admission tickets and a special photo opportunity with House leaders at the group’s 2013 “Opening Day Celebration” tomorrow, the solicitation says the following: Read More


The Fayetteville Observer gets it right this morning with this editorial about the recent resignations of powerful state legislators Harold Brubaker and Richard Stevens who quickly moved to cash in the world of political consulting and lobbying.

“Nobody’s doing anything illegal or, technically, anything wrong. They’re playing it by the book. Trouble is, the book still allows legislators to easily cash in on their power, and also allows lobbying firms to dangle the promise of big jobs to get their way with legislation.

The six-month cooling-off period is more a joke than real reform. We hope the General Assembly will try again.”

The only thing they forgot to add at the end that would have made the editorial completely accurate was the following:

“…but we’re not holding our breath.”


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


There’s been a large number of breathless reports and commentaries in recent days about the story of a Kansas congressman who apparently got a little carried away during a recent congressional junket to Israel and decided to dive into the Sea of Galilee au naturel. Raleigh’s News & Observer even saw fit to run this rather absurd headline: “Ellmers went to Israel, did not skinny-dip.”

But, of course, as is so often the case with mainstream political reporting these days, the reports and commentaries are missing the forest for the trees.

The real scandal in this matter is not that, for the umpteenth time, a knucklehead right-wing congressman went all “Hangover” on us when he got away from the hometown, the scandal is that Read More


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.