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The watchdogs at Democracy NC just released the following:

Data Highlight: McCrory’s Sweetheart Deal with Duke Energy

In a remarkable sweetheart deal anchored with $1 million in campaign contributions, Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration yesterday agreed to settle a lawsuit against Duke Energy’s pollution of drinking water supplies in western North Carolina. Millions of tons of ash residue from Duke’s power plants have leaked contaminants into MountainIslandLake near Charlotte and the French BroadRiver near Asheville.

The problems have been known for years, but McCrory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources signed an agreement that delays remedial action, calls for more study of the pollution, and fines Duke a piddling $99,112. Given Duke’s $19.6 billion in 2012 operating revenues, that’s the equivalent of fining a person with a $60,000 salary a total of 30 cents.

Under the agreement, Duke receives amnesty for its previous pollution, can continue leaching contaminants into the water, and gets to decide when its research shows that the contamination is significant enough to address. Gov. McCrory is largely turning over his responsibility to protect the public’s health to his former employer. The agreement is subject to 30 days of public comment before it can become effective.

Here are two news stories: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/07/15/4166607/duke-energy-state-to-settle-ash.html and http://blogs2.citizen-times.com/outdoors/2013/07/15/nc-proposes-coal-ash-lawsuit-settlement-with-duke-energy/

The cozy relationship between Duke Energy and the McCrory administration becomes clearer when you follow the political money….

Read the rest of the release by clicking here.

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Two good reads are out today about groups coalescing around and pushing back against issues previously thought to rest securely in the conservative camp.

In “This is How the NRA Ends,” Alec MacGillis discusses how money and some very angry women are now poised to take down the not-so-formidable gun lobby:

At long last and against all expectations, a viable movement for gun regulation is emerging. It is a development that not only bodes ill for the gun lobby and its Republican patrons, but will also complicate matters for elements of the Democratic Party who have been content to accede to the status quo. The narrow defeat of the background-check bill, it turns out, was not the end of hopes for gun reform, but the beginning.

And in “What Democracy Lost in 2012,” Bob Moser argues that voters may be finally fed up with super-PAC spending in places like North Carolina:

Looking for a fresh way to counter the influence of big money, Jonathan Soros and two fellow finance reformers dreamt up their group, Friends of Democracy, as a kind of anti-super PAC super PAC. The idea was to show that money–soaked incumbents who oppose campaign–finance reform can be beaten by challengers who support reform. The conventional wisdom has always been that even if Americans loathe the influence of money on our politics, they won’t vote out their own member of Congress because of it. Hoping to prove that assumption wrong, Friends of Democracy raised $2.7 million to challenge eight House Republican incumbents and support progressives who championed election reform.

The results were stunning. In a year when Republicans fared well in House races, seven of the eight incumbents Friends of Democracy went after were toppled.

In a wretched year for democracy, Friends of Democracy’s success was one hopeful sign that maybe—maybe—Americans were ready to act on their frustrations with big-money politics and partisan electioneering.

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Good grief! Can Pat McCrory really be this clueless? The man who ran for Governor on a platform of combating the state’s “culture of corruption” is already selling access to rich people at $50,000 a pop?

No, this is not some kind of weird, Onion-like fantasy story cooked up by depressed Democratic campaign people trying to make themselves feel better a month after the election — the guy is really doing this!!

Earth to the Governor-elect: Sir, you’re in a bigger pond now where people are actually going to pay attention to stuff like this. We know you’re new to state-level politics and that old conservative pols like Jack Hawke can probably make lots of pretty far out ideas sound like no big deal, but this really is a huge error. You need to ditch the fundraiser and dump Hawke from your transition team ASAP or risk starting your new administration out on a distinctly sour (and downright embarrassing) note.

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Leaders in both major political parties in North Carolina have been guilty through the years of engaging in “pay-to-play” politics. Former Democratic House Speaker Jim Black was, of course, the poster child for this kind of corruption and wound up in prison as a result.

Now, this week, comes word of another disturbing pay-to-play incident in the state House.

As reported by Greensboro’s Yes Weekly and Raleigh’s News & Observer a candidate for the state House of Representatives told a group of Winston-Salem businesspeople the other day that she needed to raise more money for the House Republican cause in order to get a better committee assignment should she be elected to the House this fall. Read More