Commentary, Legislature

Polygraph or not, no one’s buying the GOP story on the General Assembly’s veto override

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

If, perhaps, you listened to Speaker Tim Moore’s recent telling of the events of Sept. 11, 2019, and mistakenly believed that it was Republicans — and not the minority party Democrats — bushwhacked by that morning’s veto override vote, you could be forgiven.

Both parties have attempted, in the dismal hours and days after Republicans made off with their budget plunder, to provide a compelling narrative. Of course, this is what politicians do.

And, of course, House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson’s polygraph challenge to Moore Monday is a sideshow, but it’s a sideshow to the circus Moore oversaw on Sept. 11. In that circus, Moore is the carnival barker.

From Joe Killian’s report Monday on Jackson and Moore’s dueling monologues:

“House Republican leadership lied about the session on the morning of September 11,” Jackson said Monday. “They have continued to lie about it since. This dishonesty not only impacts the state budget, which obviously is a big deal, but it has impacted how the entire institution of our state House functions.”

Since the surprise vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto in the state House on September 11, Republicans and Democrats have fought continuously over the narrative of that morning.

Democratic leadership says they were told there would be no votes that morning. Republican leaders say they made no such promise. Democrats say Republicans planned a “sneak attack” to override Gov. Roy Cooper. Republicans said they were surprised few Democrats were present at the Sept. 11 session and simply took advantage of it when they realized they had enough votes to win an override vote they had postponed for months.

Jackson said he recently took a polygraph test — commonly known as a lie detector test — to establish that his version of events is true.

Jackson maintains he was told by Republican leadership there would be no vote that morning, something Rep. David Lewis also communicated to WRAL reporter Laura Leslie.

“I think people want to believe in their government,” Jackson said. “They want to believe their representatives don’t lie.”

Jackson provided his own polygraph results to reporters Monday.

At a reply press conference shortly after Jackson’s, Moore dismissed the idea of a polygraph test as “theatrics.”

“Look, this isn’t the Maury Povich show,” Moore said. “This is state government.”

Moore said he and Jackson are both attorneys and know that while used in investigations, polygraphs aren’t admissible in court.

“I don’t plan to get in the gutter with Rep. Jackson and play silly games,” Moore said.

House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson

If this was, in fact, Maury Povich’s daytime talk show, often associated with paternity test melodrama, we’ll have to borrow Maury’s line: Speaker Moore and the Republican majority, you are NOT the fairly elected majority.

Because, gerrymandering.

Whoever’s story you’re buying — and there are compelling reasons to approach the GOP chain of events with extraordinary skepticism — take time first to consider the truly injured party instead.

It’s not the Democrats or the Republicans. It’s not the lobbyists. It’s not the bureaucrats. It’s not the media. And it’s certainly not Speaker Moore.

It is the North Carolina public, which might not expect professionalism in the N.C. General Assembly, but deserves it nonetheless.

It is the North Carolina public, which will be deeply impacted by the budget conflicts over education and health care that this month’s override in the state House so casually papered over.

It is the North Carolina public, which should, at the minimum, trust its government, but has little reason to do so.

Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

Tonight: “Notorious RBG” to speak in Raleigh for Meredith College event

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will speak tonight in Raleigh as part of a Meredith College lecture series.

There are no longer tickets available for tonight’s installment of the Lillian Parker Wallace Lecture Series, but to make it more accessible to the public, the college is offering two viewing alternatives — a live-stream online and another that will be broadcast at Jones Auditorium on campus. That broadcast is open to the public and free to attend.

Ginsburg, 86, is known for her work to advance women’s rights and has become a cultural icon, particularly in the age of President Donald Trump. She is a liberal-leaning associate Supreme Court Justice who has been outspoken on the bench about voting, civil rights and gender equality.

She’s vowed to continue her work on the high court until at least January 2021 to avoid giving Trump a third appointment, despite some health setbacks. She completed radiation just weeks ago for her fourth battle with cancer.

Ginsburg — affectionately nicknamed the “Notorious RGB” — will be in conversation with Meredith College alumna Suzanne Reynolds, the first woman to serve as dean of the Wake Forest University School of Law, according to the press announcement.

Reynolds is known nationally for her expertise in family law and was a principal drafter of statutes that modernized the laws regarding both alimony and adoption. She is the author of a three-volume treatise on North Carolina family law that has become the authoritative source for law students, lawyers, and judges.

Meredith College is a private university in Raleigh grounded in the liberal arts. The school only accepts women as undergraduates, but the student body has grown to nearly 2,000, including men who are part of the graduate programs, according to its website.

The event will start at 7:30 p.m. in Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The Jones Auditorium, for anyone who wishes to attend the live-stream there, is located at 3800 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. You can view the online live-stream here.

NC Policy Watch reporter Melissa Boughton will be covering the event. Follow her on Twitter, and check Policy Watch tomorrow for a recap.

News

Jackson challenges GOP leadership to lie detector test over veto override vote

Image: Adobe Stock

House Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake) has taken a polygraph test involving a hotly debated veto override vote, he announced at a Monday press conference. Now he’s challenging Republican leaders to do the same.

House Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D- Wake) at Monday’s press conference.

“House Republican leadership lied about the session on the morning of September 11,” Jackson said Monday. “They have continued to lie about it since. This dishonesty not only impacts the state budget, which obviously is a big deal, but it has impacted how the entire institution of our state House functions.”

Since the surprise vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto in the state House on September 11, Republicans and Democrats have fought continuously over the narrative of that morning.

Democratic leadership says they were told there would be no votes that morning. Republican leaders say they made no such promise. Democrats say Republicans planned a “sneak attack” to override Gov. Roy Cooper. Republicans said they were surprised few Democrats were present at the Sept. 11 session and simply took advantage of it when they realized they had enough votes to win an override vote they had postponed for months.

Jackson said he recently took a polygraph test — commonly known as a lie detector test — to establish that his version of events is true.

Jackson maintains he was told by Republican leadership there would be no vote that morning, something Rep. David Lewis also communicated to WRAL reporter Laura Leslie.

Jackson said he doesn’t know whether Lewis was consciously lying, didn’t know there would be a vote or had been kept in the dark by House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), who called the vote that morning. A polygraph test should help to determine that question, he said.

At Monday’s press conference Jackson offered to pay the $400 fee for polygraph tests for the House speaker, Rep. David Lewis (R – Harnett), Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford).

Jackson suggested he will write the questions and pay for the tests. Though such tests are not admissible as evidence in court and there are debates about their scientific validity, Jackson said he believes they would go a long way toward assuring the public of the truth.

“I think people want to believe in their government,” Jackson said. “They want to believe their representatives don’t lie.”

Jackson provided his own polygraph results to reporters Monday.

At a reply press conference shortly after Jackson’s, Moore dismissed the idea of a polygraph test as “theatrics.”

“Look, this isn’t the Maury Povich show,” Moore said. “This is state government.”

Moore said he and Jackson are both attorneys and know that while used in investigations, polygraphs aren’t admissible in court.

“I don’t plan to get in the gutter with Rep. Jackson and play silly games,” Moore said.

Moore maintained there was nothing improper about the vote. He acknowledged Lewis said there would be no votes in a text to Leslie, but said he didn’t authorize that and believes Lewis when he says he didn’t make the same representation to Jackson.

Jackson also encouraged the press to request security video footage from the House floor on the morning of Sept. 11. Though black and white and without sounds, Jackson said, it will show that Republican leaders were not surprised when they arrived in force to find the majority of their Democratic colleagues missing. Instead, he said, it shows them moving quickly and in unison toward what he believes was a planned veto override vote.

Jackson said he requested the footage himself, planning to show it at Monday’s press conference. Though he was initially told he could have it, he said, N.C. General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock later contacted him to deny him the footage, saying it is usually released only in the case of a crime.

Moore and Brock made that video available for view by journalists at the press conference but did not provide copies.

Jackson suggested a lawsuit over the vote could be on the horizon, saying there are legal questions about whether public notice is satisfied when a veto override is kept on the legislative calendar for two months or more.

Moore scoffed at that.

“Why am I not surprised?” Moore said. “They’ve sued about everything else. Why not this?”

“To think that a member of the House on a political question would want to involve the courts on the functions of the House,” Moore said. “It just shows a complete ignorance of the rules and the laws that govern the General Assembly.”

Moore also criticized Democratic leadership, who he said “intimidated, harassed and threatened” its members who wanted to vote for the budget. Moore said members who wanted to vote with Republicans on the budget were introduced to potential Democratic primary challengers as a threat.

“They don’t want to talk about the budget,” Moore said of Democrats, saying they can’t justify their opposition to it without resorting to theatrics about the process.

Asked if he had any regrets about how the vote was taken, Moore said he did have one.

“I wish it wasn’t that date, I’ll say that,” Moore said.

Not because Democrats were at 9/11 remembrance ceremonies when the vote was taken, Moore said — erroneous reports of which spread quickly. But because the controversy over the vote overshadowed 9/11 recognition that the House had planned.

Commentary

More editorials: Nonpartisan redistricting commission a must

After watching what’s been going on in the House and the Senate the last few weeks, editorials from across the state are making a stronger case than ever for removing the authority for drawing legislative maps from the state legislature. On Friday, a Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com put it this way:

Legislators proved they are not to be trusted to objectively draw election district lines. At a minimum, their self-interest – regardless of partisanship — to make their own re-election as assured as possible makes them unable to develop fair and impartial maps as defined by the court.

Even though the court said legislators could not use political or voting data in their work, they could consider incumbency. That was the small opening needed to perpetuate their hyper gerrymandering….

Using incumbency – with its legacy in illegal gerrymandering – provide the excuse and means to perpetuate the problem the court wanted fixed. These legislators know the composition of their districts intimately, precinct by precinct. They intuitively know the partisan behavior even if they can’t see the exact data…..

The lesson here is simple. It can be addressed right away. Legislators lack the ability – either because of their own incumbency or partisan bias – to draw election districts that put the interests of voters and representation of communities first. Only imposition of a non-partisan system will fix it.

And this is from this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal:

…the division and the deception and the quest for world domination by Republicans now — and the Democrats before them — need to end. The redrawn districts will be a start.

Whatever the final outcome, they should be an improvement over what we have.

Better yet would be maps drawn by an independent commission.

We can only hope. It would be nice to see a sense of fairness in elections, versus manipulation and self-interest.

These two come on top of last week’s entry from the Charlotte Observer and News & Observer entitled “NC’s new voting maps have already failed” which put concluded this way:

…we believe the court should wrest the maps from the hands of lawmakers and either give the task to a special master or, if there’s time before 2020, allow lawmakers to pursue an independent commission that would produce N.C. districts not colored by partisanship and self-interest. Lawmakers have had their chance, for decades and again this month. They’ve failed.

And this morning’s editorial cartoon from John Cole of Policy Watch sums things up neatly:

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Trump dynasty? Lord help us.

Hons, I’m as terrified as a clutch of sorority girls hearing about the nationwide shortage of White Claw.

Yes, there is fear deep in my marrow because Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, recently told a group of enthusiastic supporters in California (!) he believes “The Trumps will be a dynasty that lasts for decades.”

Great. The return of measles and now THIS? (shakes fist at heavens, then feels guilty about it because upbringing)

Please say it isn’t so. Tell us you were kidding, Brad; that you made it up just to make us liberals go ape-poo and, if so, mission accomplished.

But what if Brad’s right? There have certainly been political dynasties in the past. Roosevelts, Kennedys, Bushes… Although, to be sure, a Trump dynasty would be less Ming and more Dodge.

It’s certainly possible we could find ourselves saying “President Tiffany Trump” one day.

Just kidding. You know Jared and Ivanka, Eric and what’s her face and Don Jr. and the woman he left his wife and five children for, wouldn’t let Tiffany have a real job in the dynasty.

They’re like Cinderella’s stepsisters: “OMG, Tiffany, stand on the far left of the stage. No, a little farther, just a little more, OK, almost there, keep going…going… (Tiffany is now behind the auditorium curtain), There! Perfect!!”

Assuming it’s true, who would be next in the line of succession? I’m betting on Don Jr., who is rumored to be in a low-key “cold war” with Ivanka, perhaps because she has long been acknowledged to be her father’s favorite. Like, by a country mile.

A deliciously tea-spillin’ story in The Atlantic this month used interviews with Trump campaign aides, former employees, White House officials and friends of the family to trace the roots of the dynasty, back to the days when Don Jr. eschewed his Park Avenue upbringing and became a hunter/gatherer he-man who could, literally, shoot from the hip. With his lumberjack plaid shirt and manly stubble, it was an easy jump over something dead and endangered to alt-right darling. Daddy may not like him best, but Don Jr. is beloved by the MAGA faithful, more than the lifelike Ivanka with her frustrating low-talking.

Eric (“always a bridesmaid”) Trump would seem to run a distant fourth in the possible dynastic hierarchy, being deemed considerably less valuable than Trump-by-marriage Jared Kushner, according to the magazine.

All of which is to say there is reason to be afraid, very afraid, the makings of a dynasty are falling into place. Scandals, exaggerated shoulder pads (Kushner), backbiting as each one tries to make sure the others don’t trash them to the media behind their backs….

If this was a Netflix miniseries, not real life, I’d be “Michael Jackson eating popcorn in a darkened theater” levels of excited. But…since it’s the fate of the free world, not so much.

The notion of generations of Trump spawn mauling democracy on the daily for years to come is as terrifying as a roomful of rattlers. Redundant, I know.

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.