Congressman Mark Meadows

Congressman Mark Meadows

As was noted in this Steve Harrison post the other day over at Blue NC, it’s rather strange that the the North Carolina news media seem not to have taken any interest in the troubling developments that have come to light surrounding Kenny West, the former chief of staff for Congressman Mark Meadows.

This is from a Huffington Post story from this Monday:

“A Republican congressman leading the fight to defund Planned Parenthood paid his chief of staff for nearly six months after at least three female staffers complained that the top aide was sexually harassing subordinates, according to four sources close to the situation.

The women told North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows about chief of staff Kenny West’s behavior in March, sources said. At first, Meadows barred West from his D.C. office, but reassigned him to the district office and continued paying him. Meadows eventually sent West off with a sizable severance.

Any compensation that came after West was no longer working in his role as chief of staff may have violated House ethics rules. The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, following a Politico report of the severance payment, asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate the severance payment for possible referral to the House Ethics Committee.

West officially departed Meadows’ office on May 21, but was paid his full rate of $38,750 for the period covering April 1 through June 30, and then received further pay taking him through Aug. 15. The House Ethics Manual says, ‘Compensation may be received only for duties performed within the preceding month.’ Ethics rules state that members of Congress ‘may not retain an employee who does not perform duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate with the compensation he receives.’”

It’s hard to know what’s the weirdest or most disturbing part of this story — the fact that Meadows paid the man so much money, that he reassigned him in a manner reminiscent of the approach long taken by the Catholic church toward pedophile priests, or that West ran against Meadows in the 2012 Republican primary claiming that Meadows was unfit for office due to a character issue. Whichever the case, it sure would seem that there’s enough smoke there to prompt the mainstream news media — especially in western North Carolina — to do a little more digging.


Climate change - droughtThe good people at the Center for American Progress have released a new and sobering set of fact sheets documenting the abysmal state of climate change denial in Washington. Sadly, several members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation are “recognized” for being on record in support of the denial efforts. The list includes: Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Representatives Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Walter Jones, Robert Pittenger, David Rouzer and Mark Walker (as well as Gov. Pat McCrory).

This is, of course, a tragic and maddening state of affairs given the the fact that ninety-seven percent of climate scientists (as well as several fossil fuel companies!) agree that current human activity is contributing to the warming atmosphere and causing the global climate to change.

Unfortunately, as the fact sheets note, North Carolina’s denier delegation is far from alone:

  • One hundred sixty-nine Republicans in the 114th Congress are on record questioning or denying the science behind climate change.
  • Fifty-three percent—or 131 members—of the House Republican caucus question or deny the science behind climate change.
  • Seventy percent—or 38 members—of the Senate Republican caucus question or deny the science behind climate change.

Click here to see the North Carolina fact sheet and the disturbing documentation with respect to each of our head-in-the-sand lawmakers.


Whatever the reason — quirk of the law, a desire by a conservative governor to prevent a heavily Democratic district from sending another Democrat to Washington or a combination of both — the delay announced yesterday by Gov. McCrory in filling the vacancy brought about by Congressman Mel Watt’s recent resignation from his seat in the 12th congressional district is simply and flat-out wrong.  Even if special, stand-alone elections would cost some money that the state would rather not spend during tight times, the notion that nearly 800,000 people will have no representation in the U.S. House of Representatives for an entire year is simply ridiculous.

McCrory (and legislative leaders, if necessary) should go back to the drawing board and fashion a better solution ASAP lest he people of the 12th start making noises about “no taxation without representation.”


The NC League of Conservation Voters and the national League of Conservation Voters issued its 2011 National Environmental Scorecard this week, ranking the North Carolina Congressional delegation on environmental issues. There were no surprises with Senator Kay Hagan receiving a perfect score and Representative Virginia Foxx receiving the lowest score.

The group said 2011 revealed the most anti-environmental session in history of the US House but the Senate and the Obama administration stood up against the assault on environmental laws and public health safeguards, stopping many dangerous bills.  Republicans ranked lowest with Burr, McHenry, Myrick and Ellmers scoring in the single digits.




The good people at Common Cause are out with a powerful new report this morning on the extent of the fracking industry’s skyrocketing political expenditures. This is from the report (“Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets in Congress”):

“From 2001 through June 2011, the fracking industry gave $20.5 million to current members of Congress and spend $276 million on lobbying.”

This is from a release from Common Cause of North Carolina that accompanied the release of the report: Read More