Link-of-the-Day Category

Democracy North Carolina’s Executive Director Bob Hall periodically posts commentary and links of interest about one of our core issue areas. Review his posts below or click here to automatically subscribe to our Link-of-The-Day feed via email and other options.

You are welcome to submit comments to this moderated blog. Please treat others with respect, avoid partisan rhetoric, and help us provide a fact-based discussion of issues related to North Carolina’s political landscape. Thank you.

LOD: Good Ol’ Boys to Cash Cows

Friday, December 9th, 2011

The transition from “good ol’ boy” politics to money-dominated politics is a story best told from the South, and who can tell it better than Fritz Hollings, the former South Carolina governor who represented his state in the US Senate from 1967 to 2005. His column in the Charleston, SC newspaper gives a special window into the problems of both the old and new. Definitely worth reading, even if you don’t agree with some of his conclusions. Examples abound of the slimy mess of lobbyists buying government with their clients’ money. The most recent came yesterday with the rejection of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; here’s an account of how Sen. Dean Heller is cashing in on his vote.


LOD: Perdue Campaigners Indicted

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Three individuals on the inside of Bev Perdue’s 2008 gubernatorial campaign were indicted today – not by the feds but by a Wake County grand jury. According to the News & Observer, the indictments allege that a top fundraiser for candidate Perdue “schemed to pay a staffer $32,000 for work that was kept off the books in violation of state election laws.” The felony charges result from a year-plus investigation into the campaign’s handing of finances, including hiding in-kind donations of airplane flights and other donations that would put the donor over contribution limits. The charges include obstructing justice and failure to report campaign finances. As the N&O report continues: “Earlier this year a retired state magistrate was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly trying to hide an illegal campaign flight. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has said that Perdue, a former lieutenant governor and state lawmaker, is not a target of the probe, but today’s indictment reached into the campaign’s inner circle. ‘The conduct of the governor has not been an issue, nor any other elected official,’ Willoughby said. ‘She cooperated in the investigation, was interviewed. We asked her not to talk about the facts of the case. We thought it might be inappropriate, and there might be additional charges.’” The Associated Press story is here, and the brief indictments for each charge are here.


LOD: Colbert’s Super Magic

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

What can those new Super PACs do with their money. Stephen Colbert’s ad with presidential candidate Buddy Roemer gives you the clue. Meanwhile, Larry Lessig of Rootstrikers is joining with Dylan Ratigan’s “Get Money Out” to create a new organization to work against special-interest control of government: United Republic. Lessig also has a new book out about the corrupting culture of dependency that dominates Congress. As one reviewer said, “If anything unites the tea party and the Occupy Wall Street protesters, surely it is the sense that the system is rigged in favor of big shots in Washington and against little guys back home. Money is at the heart of it.”


LOD: Speaking of Democracy NC

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch recently interviewed Bob Hall, our executive director, for his radio show. Their brief audio conversation amounts to a quick tour through Democracy NC’s hot topics: Duke Energy buying an inside track for its rate hike and merger, the dirt you find when you dig into piles of special-interest money, election disasters on the horizon, and more. Meanwhile, Progress NC recently honored Hall and Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies for their investigative research into Art Pope’s empire that became the basis for the New Yorker’s expose of Pope. Your support of Democracy NC, through your activism and donations, makes all our work possible. PS: An invitation to donate may be arriving in the mail soon! THANKS!


LOD: 9 Ways to Buy An Elections

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, the Federal Election Commission relaxed more of its rules to regulate political spending. Wealthy individuals and trade groups, as well as corporations and unions, now have a wide variety of ways to exert even more influence over an election’s outcome.  The New York Times boils the campaign finance rules down to a clever interactive guide for the 9 ways to invest $25 to $10,000,000 in a political campaign, with various degrees of privacy and impact. The Supreme Court majority essentially says all these ways to spend money are expressions of your right to “free speech,” protected by the First Amendment. Here’s a clear video explanation of why controlling undue corporate domination of elections will likely require changing the U.S. Constitution and the Court’s view of the First Amendment. A group of Senators has introduced an amendment that is less sweeping but aims to restore society’s ability to regulate “free speech” that is really paid electioneering.


LOD: Election Results, Beyond NC

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Three results from yesterday’s elections: (1) Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, a staunch opponent of the state’s successful Clean Elections program, was defeated on Tuesday by a political newcomer in a recall election. Pearce is the author of Arizona’s notorious anti-immigration law. He was also tainted by a corruption scandal involving tens of thousands of dollars worth of trips and freebies connected with the Fiesta Bowl. (2) In Maine, voters overrode the conservative legislature’s decision to eliminate Election Day Registration, which allows eligible citizens to register and vote on Election Day. The program, in place since 1973, has helped Maine rank among the top two or three states for voter turnout for years. Angry at the legislature’s vote to kill EDR, a progressive coalition gained the necessary signatures, put the issue on the ballot, and won by a 60% to 40% margin. (3) On the other hand, Mississippi passed a referendum by a similar margin to require a photo ID for voters, with the promise of free IDs and backup measures to avoid disenfranchising eligible citizens. The state NAACP, ACLU and others are waiting to see how the state intends to implement the requirement before immediately challenging the proposal through the judicial system.


LOD: Lobbyist-Donor Ban Upheld

Monday, November 7th, 2011

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld North Carolina’s year-round ban on registered lobbyists making campaign contributions to state candidates. Previously, NC had a ban while the General Assembly was in session, but after the fiasco involving then-Speaker Jim Black, the legislature expanding the prohibition to cover 24/7, 365 days a year. Democracy North Carolina and Common Cause-NC led the fight for a package of lobbying and campaign finance reforms during that crucial 2005-2006 period, along with excellent leadership inside the Building from Rep. Joe Hackney and a number of other legislators. Some of us were not sure the total ban would hold up, but the Court today affirmed the district court’s opinion: “Applying the ‘closely drawn’ standard of scrutiny that we conclude is applicable to such contribution restrictions, we hold that the statute is constitutional, both facially and as applied to Preston [the plaintiff], as a valid exercise of North Carolina’s legislative prerogative to address potential corruption and the appearance of corruption in the State.”


LOD: Redistricting Update

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Democracy North Carolina will join three other nonpartisan organizations in filing a lawsuit in state court on Friday that challenges the constitutionality of the new redistricting plans. Late yesterday, the US Department of Justice said it would not object to the plans, using a relatively narrow set of criteria to “preclear” the maps in the 40 counties covered by the Voting Rights Act. But there are additional issues and reasons why the plans can and should be contested. To begin with, the Republican map-makers have unnecessarily carved up 563 precincts with two million adults into over 1,400 sections that are placed into different legislative districts, which will confuse and complicate every aspect of the election process. And here’s the galling factoid: Your chances of living in one of these split precincts is 50% higher if you are black rather than white. You think that’s an accident? Speaking of impediments to voting rights, we’re pleased that the Raleigh News & Observer published our op-ed column about the “campaign to make it harder to vote.” For less print and more song, check out this video that explains the redistricting process from ProPublica.


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