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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.

People of color lobby daySeveral progressive nonprofits are now targeting next Tuesday, April 9 as a day of action and protest at the General Assembly.

Among the complementary events:

HK on J People of (all) Colors Lobby Day - which will commence at 9:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church – Family Life Center at 109 S. Wilmington St. in Raleigh. Click here for more information.

and Women’s Advocacy Day – which is also scheduled to commence at 9:00 a.m. Click here for more information.

Hope to see you there!

Harold BrubakerAs anyone who happened to glance at the front page of this past Sunday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer probably noticed, former North Carolina House Speaker and Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Brubaker has gotten through the almost meaningless six-month “cooling off period” during which former legislators are barred from lobbying their old chums. He now appears ready to make a big splash as a high-powered lobbyist.

Already, Brubaker has signed up nine separate clients for Brubaker and Associates for the 2013 legislative session that begins in earnest tomorrow. Some lobbyists represent more “principals” than this, however, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this number grew in the days to come.

Most of the nine are about who you would expect: insurance companies, doctor groups, the beer and wine lobby and, as is frequently the case for big shot “lobsters,” the requisite nonprofit client. One client that many would not have predicted, however, is this one: Read More

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

Tom FetzerUPDATE: After this post first appeared on Tuesday afternoon, Susan Fetzer Vick sent me an email informing me that Fetzer’s wife Kathrine is currently in the hospital struggling with  pregnancy-related health issues and that this post had been sent to her by friends and had caused her great distress. Obviously, I had no idea that this was the case, am very sorry for her and wish her a speedy recovery. The purpose of this post was and is merely to call attention to the work of Fetzer Strategic Partners and, in particualar, its representation of the especially predatory corporate actor, Advance America. By way of further update, it also appears that the website for the firm — which was obviously incomplete — has been taken down.  

Hey folks, have you ever wanted to launch a career as a high-powered and well-compensated lobbyist of North Carolina state government? Have you maybe even thought about making it a career that wouldn’t place too many demands on your time and family responsibilities (and maybe even about turning it into a family business)? If so, you’ve probably wondered about how to get started what it might really take to establish yourself in this potentially lucrative and prominent career.

Well, if this sounds like you, look no further! We’ve found the person who can show you how to do it: former Raleigh mayor, U.S. Tennis Association official and state Republican Party chair Tom Fetzer.

Fetzer, as you recall, resigned from his leadership position in the state GOP a few years back citing family and financial responsibilities. Today, it looks like he’s figured out a way to solve both of those problems. Read More