In North Carolina, Voting Controversies Are Common. Here’s the Recent History.
NY Times // Julia Jacobs // December 13, 2018
Summary: In the past decade, North Carolina has been a central battleground for the partisan fight over voting restrictions. Since their takeover of the state’s General Assembly in 2010, Republicans have devised district maps and pushed through voter identification laws that have prompted a series of high-profile court cases. In a state that retained literacy tests until the 1970s, the potential for disenfranchisement of black voters is at the core of the continuing debate. The state’s Republican politicians have defended the strict voter ID rules by saying they’re meant to prevent fraud, including unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter impersonation. Now, the possibility of a different sort of election fraud has gripped the state.
NC GOP played a central role in 9th District scandal
N&P // Compiled by Editorial Board // December 12, 2018
Summary: Now that the evidence of a concerted scheme to harvest absentee ballots in favor of Republican Mark Harris is overwhelming, Republicans are shifting the blame from their party and candidates to “all of us.” Here’s the truth: Not all of us contracted with a shady consulting group that was dissolved by the N.C. Secretary of State’s Office. The NC GOP and the Harris campaign did. Not all of us were subpoenaed by the State Board of Elections in an ongoing investigation of election rigging and fraud. Red Dome Group and the Harris campaign were. Not all of us ignored allegations of ballot harvesting because their energy was better spent electing a candidate who believes women should submit to their husbands. The NC GOP did. The NC Republican Party and the Harris campaign have a lot of to answer for. Why are they so determined to deflect and spread the blame?
‘I haven’t committed any crimes.’ Woman at center of voter fraud allegations breaks her silence
WBTV // Nick Ochsner // December 12, 2018
Summary: The woman at the center of allegations of voter fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race is breaking her silence, speaking only with WBTV about the work she did in the 2018 election. Lisa Britt worked for a man named McCrae Dowless, who was hired by the campaign of Republican Mark Harris to run a coordinated absentee ballot effort in Bladen and Robeson Counties. Harris beat McCready in November’s election by 905 votes.
A new 9th District congressional election — if called — would be a full do-over
N&O // Lynn Bonner // December 12, 2018
Summary: A proposal that would require another primary in the 9th Congressional District if suspected absentee ballot fraud results in a new election won legislative approval Wednesday. The requirement for a complete do-over in the 9th District is part of wide-ranging legislation that restructures the State Board of Elections and keeps information about campaign finance investigations secret. The State Board of Elections is investigating potential absentee ballot fraud in Bladen and Robeson counties. Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked as a contractor for Republican Mark Harris’ congressional campaign, is at the center of an investigation over mishandling of absentee ballots. Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in November, but the state board has twice declined to certify the results.
Operative under investigation had 800 absentee ballots beforeprimary, affidavit says
N&O // Brian Murphy, Ely Portillo // December 12, 2018
Summary: McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County elected official and paid political operative, had more than 800 absentee ballots in his possession before the May Republican primary, according to a new affidavit. Dowless is a person of interest in the state board’s investigation into voting irregularities in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Republican Mark Harris, whose consulting firm paid Dowless for absentee ballot work in the county, won the Republican primary against incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger by 828 votes. Harris received 437 mail-in absentee votes in Bladen County to 17 for Pittenger. Kenneth Simmons, a registered Republican in Bladen County, said he was at a campaign event with his wife for a challenger in the sheriff’s race.
From politics to the pulpit and back again: Mark Harris’ rise on the religious right
Charlotte Observer // Ely Portillo, Tim Funk // December 12, 2018
Summary: Before he wanted to be a preacher, Mark Harris wanted to be in politics. The Winston-Salem native stuffed envelopes for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign when he was 14, then took a bus to the inauguration in Washington, D.C. At 17, he posed on the U.S. Capitol steps with then-Senator Jesse Helms. “Best wishes to Mark Harris — I’m proud of you!” the senator scrawled on a photo of them. Decades later — long after he heard the call to ministry and answered it — Harris kept that photo in his office at First Baptist Church in Charlotte. It was the distillation of a life that fused the political arena with the pulpit, in which politics and piety have long intersected.
GOV. COOPER NEWS
How Did the NCDOT Use Drones to Help Plan for and Recover from Hurricane Florence?
Commercial UAV News // JeremiahKarpowicz // December 12, 2018
Summary: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on September 7, 2018, in anticipation of arrival of Hurricane Florence. The severity of the situation is part of what compelled the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to launch its UAS response well before Hurricane Florence reached the North Carolina coast. The difference the technology made before, during and after the hurricane proved to be substantial.
Rivers tapped for MLK Commission
Daily Advance // Staff // December 13, 2018
Summary: Kiana F. Rivers of Elizabeth City has been appointed as a member at-large to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission by Gov. Roy Cooper. The appointment is one of 34 new appointments to state boards and commissions announced last week by the Governor’s Office. Rivers, a student at the North Carolina Central University School of Law, interned with the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and attended a Cultural Immersion Summer Program in New Delhi, India.
“As governor, I’m honored to serve North Carolina with these dedicated leaders,” Cooper said in a statement released by his office. “Each person will bring valuable guidance and expertise to these state boards and commissions.”
Cooper Urges Caution: ‘Winter Is Just Beginning’
WFAE // Staff // December 12, 2018
Summary: Although the worst of the winter storm has passed through the state, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is reminding residents to prepare for more severe weather. “Winter is just beginning, and this will not be the last round of winter weather we see this season,” Cooper said Wednesday afternoon in a statement. “Families should make sure they are ready by restocking their emergency kits and keeping vehicles ready for winter weather.” Cooper said heavy rains are expected to move through the state this weekend, bringing possible flooding in many areas and wintry precipitation in the mountains. The governor urged residents to watch out for black ice on roads as temperatures are expected to drop below freezing Wednesday night. The state of emergency for North Carolina remains in effect.
Accusing GOP of ‘political showmanship,’ Cooper’s office seeks public records on pipeline probe
Halifax County getsspurt of manufacturing jobs, after Cooper grants incentive money
N&O // Zachery Eanes // December 12, 2018
Summary: The eastern North Carolina county of Halifax has seen an influx of manufacturing investments after Gov. Roy Cooper’s office awarded multiple grants to lure expansions to the county. In the past month, Cooper’s office has announced that three separate manufacturers have agreed to hire more than 100 workers in Halifax after receiving money from the state’s One North Carolina Fund. The discretionary cash-grant program lets the governor’s office respond quickly to competitive economic development projects. In total, the three manufacturers will create 171 jobs in Halifax County, and in return will receive a total of $525,000. All of the grants require a local match.
Safer Pregnancies: Governor steps up.
NC Child // Tom Vitaglione // December 12, 2018
Summary: Think of it as a manager extending a benefit to employees, or perhaps recognizing it as an inherent right. Governor Roy Cooper, effectively the CEO of the largest employer in the state, has issued an Executive Order providing for workplace accommodations for pregnant state employees. This is not groundbreaking nationally, since 23 states already have these protections in place for all public and most private employees. It is noteworthy in North Carolina, however, because we are one of the few states with virtually no protections against pregnancy discrimination.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEWS
Moore is Republicans’ choice for another speaker term
WRAL // Staff // December 13, 2018
Summary: Republican lawmakers want the current top North Carolina House and Senate leaders to run their respective chambers for another two years. Freshman GOP legislators and incumbents elected in November have agreed to support current House Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain for a third term as speaker. Caucus members said they chose Moore as their nominee Wednesday by acclamation.
Apple to buildcampus in Texas; NC officials express shock NC not on expansion
WRAL // Rick Smith // December 13, 2018
Summary: Apple says it will build a new corporate campus in Austin, Texas, and add employees at “new sites” in several other cities. However, no mention was made of adding jobs in North Carolina. The company had been considering Research Triangle Park for a new campus as well as an expansion of its current data center complex in western North Carolina, according to several sources. Some North Carolina officials said they were shocked and stunned by the news while others were mum about the impact on North Carolina as a possible Apple destination.
Latest plan to overhaul elections board heads to Cooper
WRAL // Laura Leslie, Matthew Burns // December 12, 2018
Summary: Lawmakers quickly approved Wednesday a proposal to split the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement in two, returning to the set-up the state had two years ago. The legislation cleared the House 82-17 and the Senate 34-3 less than a day after Republican leaders rolled it out. Because of the way the proposal was structured, it required only one vote in each chamber, and no amendments were allowed. The plan now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper, whose repeated legal challenges over legislative changes to the elections board have resulted in a two-year-long court battle that has twice gone before the state Supreme Court.
Wednesday Wrap: What’s old is new again
WRAL // @NCCapitol // December 13, 2018
Summary: A plan to revert the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to its pre-December 2016 form of two distinct boards zipped through the General Assembly on Wednesday, one day after it was unveiled. A provision in the measure that calls for a new primaries in the 9th Congressional District is fraud is discovered in a state investigation of the general election results in the race was removed late Tuesday and then mysteriously added back in Wednesday morning.
Lawmakers move ahead with pipeline investigation
WRAL // Laura Leslie // December 12, 2018
Summary: Republican legislative leaders said Wednesday they will sign a contract with a private investigation firm to probe Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration’s dealings on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, despite a letter from the administration promising records lawmakers requested by Dec. 20. A special joint oversight committee tasked with looking into the deal between Cooper and pipeline developers heard from Eagle Intel Services, a firm comprised of retired federal investigators Frank Brostrom, Tom Beers and Kevin Greene.
Latest plan to overhaul elections board heads to Cooper
WRAL // Laura Leslie // December 12, 2018
Summary: Lawmakers quickly approved Wednesday a proposal to split the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement in two, returning to the set-up the state had two years ago. The legislation cleared the House 82-17 and the Senate 34-3 less than a day after Republican leaders rolled it out. Because of the way the proposal was structured, it required only one vote in each chamber, and no amendments were allowed.
How the Minority Wins
The Atlantic // Vann R. Newkirk II // December 12, 2018
Summary: There’s no greater evidence of the passage of time than the Republican Party’s autopsy report on its failed 2012 election cycle. “By the year 2050 we’ll be a majority-minority country and in both 2008 and 2012 President Obama won a combined 80 percent of the votes of all minority groups,” former Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said at a 2013 press conference announcing the report. The document itself essentially admits both to the fact that the Republican Party was a party of white men, and that the only way to compete would be to neutralize the “demographic destiny” of Democrats, embracing immigration reform and becoming a true multiracial and multiethnic “big tent.” It’s a strikingly candid report. It reads like speculative fiction today.
| HURRICANE RECOVERY
Hurricane Florence recovery continues in Onslow
Jacksonville Daily News // Kelsey Stiglitz // December 13, 2018
Summary: Three months have passed since Hurricane Florence wrecked Onslow County, and while some have repaired roofs and replaced damaged items, others are still going through the recovery process. And those in need have not been missed by the eyes of a caring local community. Eastern North Carolina began feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 13 before she made landfall at Wrightsville Beach the next day. Once the storm hit land, ENC was pounded with 13-foot storm surges and nearly 30 inches of rain, which brought extreme flooding and damages. Wind gusts of up to 106 mph were reported at Cape Lookout, which downed trees and caused other damages in the area. Some organizations, recognizing the breadth of Florence’s damages, took steps to take care of their customers, employees
Victim of Hurricane Florence, like many, rebuilding one day at a time
$3.6 billion price tag to rebuild Lejeune buildings damaged by Hurricane Florence
WCTI // Greg Payne, Jason O. Boyd // December 13, 2018
Summary: It’s been three months since Hurricane Florence made her presence known in our area. Not too long after the storm hit, NewsChannel 12’s Greg Payne was doing a Facebook Live along a stretch of road in Chinquapin in Duplin County, where water as up to his waste. It was there where he met Roxanne Jones. “Sometimes I stand out in the yard and I’ll just look around and imagine how deep the water was,” Jones said. “It’s just like ‘why God, why did you allow it to happen, why did this happen. Sometimes I’ll go in the house and just think of all that water.”
Marine Corps Times // Shawn Snow // December 12, 2018
Summary: The top Marine told lawmakers Wednesday that the price tag to replace some of the buildings aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, damaged by Hurricane Florence was roughly $3.6 billion. Roughly 31 buildings prioritized by the Corps fall under the massive price tag, but Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller said there were more buildings damaged in the storm. “If you were to take the buildings that we would consider to be not worth the cost of repair, but that they would need to be rebuilt, that total bill comes to about $3.6 billion,” Neller told senators. “We don’t believe it is cost effective to repair buildings that are 35 to 50 years old,” Neller added.
Apple picks Austin for a new campus, says it will expand in other cities, too
N&O // Zachery Eanes, Mary Cornatzer // December 13, 2018
Summary: North Carolina apparently has lost another big one: Apple. The tech giant announced Thursday morning that it would invest $1 billion to create another campus in Austin, Texas, where it already employs 6,000 people, and establish new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, Calif., as well as expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder, Colo., over the next three years. No mention was made of Raleigh or Research Triangle Park, although the news release did say there was the “potential for additional expansion elsewhere in the US over time.” The company has workers in all 50 states and now employs 90,000 people in the United States, according to the release.
Facing state takeover, Wayne County schools leader won’t rule out a lawsuit
NC Policy Watch // Bill Ball // December 12, 2018
Summary: North Carolina state law would seem to provide just two options for Wayne County school leaders: Close or accept the state’s takeover of a Goldsboro elementary school following last week’s reluctant vote by the State Board of Education. But, in an interview with Policy Watch Wednesday, Wayne County Superintendent Michael Dunsmore wouldn’t rule out a third option: File a lawsuit that challenges state officials’ handling of the troubled Innovative School District selection process. “Everything is on the table,” Dunsmore said.
Bennett College could lose accreditation
Fox8 // Greensboro N&R // December 11, 2018
Summary: Bennett College could lose its accreditation, according to the Greensboro News & Record. Its oversight body voted Tuesday to remove the accreditation of the private women’s college, which has struggled in recent years with declining enrollment and revenues. President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that the college has appealed the decision made by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Farm Bill Compromise Reached With SNAP Changes Out, Industrial Hemp In
NPR // Brakkton Booker, Grant Gerlock // December 11, 2018
Summary: Lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated farm bill compromise Monday night, ending the months-long impasse over whether a critical piece of legislation that provides subsidies to farmers and helps needy Americans buy groceries could pass before the lame-duck session concludes at the end of the year. The agreement was reached after a proposal — backed by House Republicans and President Trump — to add stricter work requirements for those who receive food stamps was taken off the table.
Another verdict against Smithfield Foods, but with low award
Jury rules in favor of NC neighbors in hog-waste trial
WRAL // Travis Fain // December 12, 2018
Summary: A North Carolina jury delivered another verdict Wednesday for neighbors suing hog industry giant Smithfield Foods, but with much lower damages than in previous trials. The jury awarded $102,400, split between eight plaintiffs. The awards were broken down by how long plaintiffs lived near hog farms in their area, with the highest amounts, $75,000 and $25,000, going to people who were there before the farms. Two others got $1,000 each. Four people will get $100.
N&O // Craig Jarvis, Josh Shaffer // December 12, 2018
Summary: A jury on Wednesday ruled in favor of eight Sampson County neighbors who sued the world’s largest pork producer for bringing foul odors and excessive noise to their rural community. Each plaintiff will be awarded between $100 and $75,000 in compensatory damages, the jury decided in federal court in Raleigh on Wednesday morning. The jury is expected to rule later Wednesday on punitive damages, which could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
More than 100 former and current UNC athletes sign a letter opposing the Silent Sam plan
N&O // Jonathan M. Alexander // December 12, 2018
Summary: More than 100 current and former UNC-Chapel Hill student-athletes have signed an open letter condemning the university’s recent proposal to put the Silent Sam statue in a new $5.3 million building on campus. Among those on the list opposing the Confederate monument are current basketball and football players. They include forward Garrison Brooks, a UNC starter, and guard Kenny Smith Jr.; running backs Michael Carter and Jordon Brown, and starting offensive lineman William Sweet. “A monument to those who fought and killed to keep Black people enslaved has no place on our campus,” the letter read. “White supremacy has no place on our campus.”
UNC faculty members, in letter to parents, support Silent Sam strike and withholding grades
N&O // Tammy Grubb // December 12, 2018
Summary: More than 200 UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members have signed an open letter to students’ parents and guardians, asking them to support striking graduate student instructors and the permanent removal of the Silent Sam Confederate statue from campus. “Please contact university leaders, including Chancellor Carol Folt, Provost Bob Blouin, and Chairman of the Board Haywood Cochrane Jr. to make your views known and request that Silent Sam and other Confederate statues not be allowed on our campus,” said the letter, issued just days before the UNC system Board of Governors could decide the statue’s fate.
Our view: Burr, Tillis chose wrong on Thomas Farr
Winston Salem Journal // Editorial Board // December 12, 2018
Summary: Thomas A. Farr was a woefully bad choice to be a federal district judge in North Carolina. Thank goodness Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, stood up for principle over blind party loyalty and announced that he would oppose Farr’s nomination. With all 49 Democrats in the Senate and Republican Sen. Jeff Flake also unwilling to vote for Farr, Scott’s opposition was all it took to sink the nomination. Flake is opposing all of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominations until the Senate votes on a bill to protect special counsels, but he’s on record as saying he would have opposed Farr anyway. Principle is something that seems to be lacking among many Senate Republicans these days. Where were North Carolina’s two senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, when news emerged recently about a 1991 Justice Department memo written under President George H.W. Bush — a memo that raises serious concerns about Farr’s role in racially discriminatory tactics used in Jesse Helms’ campaigns for Senate from North Carolina? They were holding firm in their support of Farr, no matter what.
OPINION: Why we support the Chemours consent order
StarNews // Kemp Burdette, Geoff Gisler // December 11, 2018
Summary:For Cape Fear River Watch, Wilmington is our home. We and our families drank contaminated water and we share the worries about what GenX and similar chemicals have done to our health. We hear the questions raised about the proposed consent order reached as a result of our lawsuits and we understand the concerns. Here’s why Cape Fear River Watch believes this is the best path forward: It requires Chemours to do as much as possible, as quickly as possible, to stop polluting our air and water. It will result in a cleaner Cape Fear River in the very near future. That means that the water going into public drinking water utilities will be cleaner and safer. This step is vitally important to our families and our community.