Our Issues Category

The posts in this category discuss our core issues.

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: Raleigh v. Big Money

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The Citizens United decision allowed corporations to use money from their treasuries for candidate advocacy, not direct donations to candidates. Some argue the decision has not released a torrent of political spending by corporations, thinking narrowly of the Fortune 500. But they overlook the new use of corporate nonprofits (particularly secretive c-4s) as front groups for profit-making corporations, as well as the enormous jump in “independent” expenditures by Super PACs funded by the mega-donations of corporate CEOs. The underlying problem is captured well in a resolution for an anti-Citizens United Constitutional amendment adopted by the Raleigh City Council on July 3 (congratulations, Raleigh!) It says, in part: “Whereas concentrated wealth should not outweigh the rights of ordinary citizens by using its economic power to influence election outcomes, including the selection of candidates.” Bottom line: To overturn the conversion of fair elections into commodities sold to the highest bidder, we’ll need an amendment that not only limits corporate power but also declares that the purchasing power of money from all sources is not protected from regulation by the First Amendment; money is property, not speech. By the way, hear George Friday from Move to Amend tonight in Raleigh.


LOD: Carolina Business Coalition

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

There’s lots in the daily news of the doings and undoings in the General Assembly and elsewhere, but you may have missed coverage about this new electioneering operation sponsored by the Ayn Rand-wing of the North Carolina business establishment. The mainstream press hasn’t noticed yet. Public-interest investigator Greg Flynn reports that these White-Men-With-Too-Much-Money have hired attorney Roger Knight to craft a legal shell (the Carolina Business Coalition) to pump money into various state legislative elections, beginning next week with an ad buy exceeding $300,000 – without the public getting any information about where the money comes from! The media should on top of this, but where are they?


LOD: Political Poison

Friday, June 1st, 2012

The Institute for Southern Studies/Facing South reveals the connection between toxic money pouring into NC politics and legislation to increase toxic chemicals pouring into our air. The article draws on a new analysis by Democracy North Carolina of the political muscle of 27 leading polluters and their trade groups. Hint: by themselves, they annually spend 10 times as much on lobbying and campaign donations as all the environment groups combined.  The legislative effort to allow big polluters to bypass North Carolina’s highly acclaimed Air Toxics Program is all the more diabolical because regulators and several environmental groups are ready to accept the change out of fear that conservative legislators will deliver on a threat to gut the program even further. What madness.


LOD: Candidates Rewarded for Good

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

In the midst of Super PAC spending and candidates hustling big-dollar donors, here’s a positive story from North Carolina: Candidates are actually agreeing to accept strict campaign spending limits and to rely only on small donations and a public grant authorized by hundreds of registered voters!

Today, the State Board of Elections sent notices to all eight candidates for the NC Supreme Court and NC Court of Appeals that they had fulfilled the necessary requirements to qualify for public grants to partly support their campaigns. To qualify, the candidates raised scores of relatively small donations from registered voters and accepted strict spending and fundraising limits (e.g., no PAC or out-of-state donations). The two candidates running against each other for a seat on the state Supreme Court will each receive $240,100 in public funds. The six running for three seats on the NC Court of Appeals each receive $164,400. The public funds come from a voluntary check-off on the NC tax form and a surcharge on fees paid by attorneys.

This is the first election cycle in which all candidates in statewide judicial elections qualified for public funds – a record made more significant because the US Supreme Court recently ruled that no additional “rescue funds” may be awarded if a qualifying candidate is later hit by large spending from an outside group or opposing candidate. See this report for an analysis of the public financing program through 2010.

In addition, Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson and State Auditor Beth Wood both qualified to receive public support for their re-election campaigns after gathering hundreds of small donations from registered voters. They will each receive about $214,000 beginning with an initial payment of $71,419 that the State Board of Elections authorized today.


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