Archives

Uncategorized
Former House Speaker-turned lobbyist Harold Brubaker

Former House Speaker and current top-ranked lobbyist Harold Brubaker – Photo: NC General Assembly

The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research is a fine and venerable organization that has done many great services to the state. Moreover, its commitment to sober and thorough research in which the focus is on getting things right more than getting them fast is a welcome departure from the norm in today’s hyper-fast-paced policy environment.

That said, here’s a vote for doing away with one of the organization’s signature products — its annual “rankings” of lobbyists and lawmakers.

Every year (or at least it seems like every year anyway — I’m actually not sure how often these darned things come out ), the Center releases the results of surveys it conducts of the denizens of the state Legislative Building on the “effectiveness” of lawmakers and lobbyists. The results are then converted into a “rankings” system and released with much fanfare. Think of it as a kind of once-per-year AP Top 25 football team poll for politicos. Today, the Center released its lobbyist list.

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s most offensive about the rankings. Maybe it’s the use of the word “effectiveness,” which as a practical matter, has come to mean “power and influence.” Surprise! This year, the “most effective” lobbyist is former House Speaker and ALEC chairman emeritus-turned corporate mouthpiece Harold Brubaker. Similarly, last spring’s rankings touted Phil Berger and Thom Tillis as the “most effective” legislators. What a shocker that was! (I mean, who’s kidding who? Saying Harold Brubaker is “more effective” than some underpaid nonprofit advocate for sick kids or the environment is like seriously reporting that Florida State has a “more effective” football team than N.C. Central.)

Maybe it’s the notion Read More

Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized

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!

Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

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