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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

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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

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Ah, the revolving door revolves again. This is from Yahoo! Finance:

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Duke Energy has named Heath Shuler as senior vice president of federal affairs, effective Jan. 4, 2013.

Shuler currently serves as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He has represented North Carolina’s 11thDistrict since 2007. His term expires Jan. 3, 2013. He announced his intention to retire from Congress Feb. 2, 2012…. Read More

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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.”

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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