Legislative Leaders Subvert Campaign Finance Laws


BREAKING NEWS: So much for Republican grassroots indignation. The “new,” supposedly “grassroots” Republican party chair has caved in to the oligarchs. He agreed to a “compromise” that will now allow an additional “affiliated party committee” to be set up by the senior member of the Council of State (i.e. the governor). Gov. Pat McCrory has siged the bill (or course).

Read more here and here.

“As Chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, I’d like to express sincere appreciation to both Republicans and Democrats in our General Assembly and Council of State for placing particular emphasis on their absolute lack of morals, ethics and professionalism,” commented J.J. Summerell.  “By stooping to new depths you have raised the LPNC, the Party of Principle, to new heights in the eyes of informed voters.”


by J.J. Summerell

In an eleventh hour back-door maneuver, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly rammed through a bill giving them the unlimited and uncontrolled ability to raise as much money as they want for candidates they alone select.

They’ll be able to appoint an “affiliated party committee” that won’t have to abide by the same rules and constrains that apply to parties and candidates. And if that doesn’t make a sufficient mockery of the law, individuals, lobbyists, and special interest groups will be able to give as much money as the want to these faux committee.

We agree with the Republican assistant counsel David Williams that this is a “poison pill” for the Republican Party. But it’s also a toxic potion for Libertarians, unaffiliated voters–and most especially the people of North Carolina.

We also agree with Rep. John Blust, one of 19 Republicans who voted against this bill, who said, “Honorable people do not conduct the publics’ business this way. The attitude reflected by the leaders in carrying this out shows a profound disrespect not only for the other legislators, but for the people we represent.”

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Legislators fail to pass budget – again

For the seventh time in 10 years, the General Assembly will be derelict in its duty to fulfill a major constitutional responsibility. The new fiscal year will begin without the legislature passing a state budget.

It’s no wonder North Carolinians have such a low opinion of government. Even though both houses and the governorship are controlled by the same party, they cannot complete this most basic government function. Although in session for six months, they’ve waited until the last minute to consider this important issue.

Not only were the competing budgets drafted in secret by a small, closed group of legislators, lobbyists and special interests group agents, these same people are now meeting behind closed doors to cut deals for a final budget. There’s nothing fair, impartial, or reasonable, and certainly not democratic, about this process.

Perhaps if legislators actually read the state constitution they’ve taken an oath to uphold this problem wouldn’t come up every year. Under that charter, the governor is responsible for drafting the budget. The state House and Senate can review it and make changes, and must approve it. But the fundamental responsibility rests with the governor.

There’s no need at all for both houses to separately, and secretly, draft their own budgets – other than to score political points and provide cover for political favors.

Politicians distort the plain meaning of words

So N.C. Republicans have finally agreed on which Ponzi scheme they’re going to use to con North Carolinians into thinking they’re cutting taxes.

Yippie.

Democrats, predictably, are screaming about how this plan will hurt “the poor” and reward “the rich.” Even some conservatives, to their credit, see the sham.

But everyone is taking about the issue in Newspeak.

Republican and Democrat politicians don’t speak the same language as everyday folk. Listen to how they talk about tax “cuts.” They maintain government “loses” money through “loopholes” and tax exemptions. The implication is clear. You don’t own the money you earn. How else could government lose something it doesn’t own?

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Check Libertarian on your state income tax form

 LPNC_PPFF

The N.C. Political Party Financing Fund programs allows taxpayers to check a block on the state income tax form and designate $3 of their state income tax to a political party. Although the Libertarians oppose giving taxpayer money to political parties, they’re asking people to designate $3 of their state income tax burden to support the state Libertarian Party.

“The PPFF should be abolished immediately,” said J.J. Sumerell, Libertarian Party state chair. “However, the North Carolina Libertarian Party will continue to accept the funds and encourage members of all parties and unaffiliated voters to check the Libertarian block on your NC tax return.”

He noted that while the designation doesn’t reduce the income tax burden, it does allow people to direct their money to a cause they support.

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Win or lose, Libertarians make a difference

North Carolina’s Libertarian candidates are optimistic that regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election, their campaigns have made a difference. They are optimistic because of the reaction they’ve received from voters unhappy with the two major parties.

“Voters are quite polarized this year, so my results are going to depend on turnout of unaffiliated and disenchanted Republican voters, plus a low Democrat turnout,” said Lon Cecil, candidate for U.S. House District 12. “Third party candidates are often considered a spoiler for one of the two old party candidates, but the odds seem better this year to spoil both old parties.”

During early voting Cecil said three men “who were clearly World War II generation” told him they were going to vote Libertarian because they couldn’t trust “either of the old parties.” Cecil recently was endorsed by the Rhinoceros Times, a Greensboro newspaper.

John Sams has also won the endorsement of a local paper, the Elizabeth City Daily Advance, in his race for Chowan County Commission District 3. The paper praised Sams for being “among the first county residents to question the county’s finances” and has “demonstrated his commitment to being fully informed on the county’s fiscal situation by attending budget deliberations.”

In the contentious race for U.S. House District 2, Tom Rose said he was most proud that he managed to get into one televised debate. Both Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge and Republican Renee Elmers have spent enormous sums running attack ads. Rose said he’s swayed many Democrats and Republicans to vote for him by convincing them he can win and spend less the $5,000 in campaign funds.

“I feel like I have a good chance to win this race because I’m picking up many of the moderate Democrats votes,” Rose said. “I’ve had Republicans, including one General Assembly candidate, tell me that they have voted for me, and have had Democrats and Republicans fed up with their parties making phone calls for me.”

Rose’s candidacy may have on impact on what appears to now be a close race. A recent Civitas poll had Elmers leading Etheridge 46 percent to 41 percent, with Rose at 6 percent and 7 percent undecided.

Barry Coe hasn’t spent any money other than the filing fee in the race for state Senate District 24. He said he focused on attending forums and responding to surveys. “Many voters congratulated me for my ability to say, in clear terms, how they feel,” Coe said. He expects the race to be close.

A frequent comment he gets from people who say they agree with him is that they fear voting for him will be a wasted vote and elect the Democrat. Coe’s response is to explain that voting is about expressing a choice. “Don’t blame me if your candidate cannot motivate popular support,” he tells these voters.

Stephanie Watson thinks there will actually be a low voter turnout in her race for state Senate District 16, but that she’ll benefit from the candidacy Dr. Mike Beitler in the U.S. Senate race at the top of the ballot.

“I think Dr. Beitler could draw 5 to 10 percent in our district, and I’m predicting that my own race will reflect the same results,” she said. “He’s done an excellent job with limited resources of demonstrating the principles that voters can apply to most down-ticket Libertarian candidates across the state. I hope that translates into wins in many state and local races and impressive showings for our Congressional candidates, too.”

Voter dissatisfaction with the two-party duopoly was also evident in other ways, especially to some veteran Libertarian candidates. “This time people listened and agreed. This time no one walked away or disagreed.” said Richard Evey, a candidate in state Senate District 44. “I got some great feed back from some unlikely sources.”

Support from unlikely sources is also reflected in the fact that Beitler scored well with unaffiliated and liberal voters in several polls of the U.S. Senate race.

State party chair Barbara Howe said that Beitler has built on the success of the 2008 gubernatorial campaign, and she expects he will do as well as previous Libertarian candidates for U.S. Senate.

“Because of the campaign we ran in 2008 and because of the kind of candidate we’re running in 2010, where we have put forth articulate, smart candidates who really could serve if elected, we’re helping build the credibility of the party”she said.

Watson runs typical libertarian campaign

Stef Watson has been running a typical Libertarian campaign for N.C. Senate 16. She’s taken clear, unequivocal and specific stands on critical issues and hasn’t spent much money.

On the issues, Watson says in her blog GoLiberty.net, “I’m the only candidate ready to take an active stance sponsoring or co-sponsoring legislation for meaningful annexation reform, helping to restore property owners’ rights across the state.”

She also makes an interesting observation about the spending sprees put on by other candidates.

The incumbent Democrat Josh Stein has spent more than $248,000 and the Republican Mike Beezley about $25,000, all to get a job that lasts two years and pays only $20,659 per year.

Watson said she’s spend about $1,400, mostly her own money. “I’ll be interested to see the dollar-spent-per-vote-received ratios for each of us in this race,” she said. While she doesn’t think many people will go to the pools to support either Stein or Beezley, or her for that matter, she does expect to benefit from the Libertarian candidate at the top of the ballot, Dr. Mike Beitler, who’s running for U.S. Senate.

If you are one of the Wakes voters who’ll have the honor of having the opportunity to vote for more than one Libertarian candidate, read “Here’s why you should vote for Watson?