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Morning Memo: Memo-gate fallout continues, McCrory's 'life of a governor'

FLORIDA GOP JOINS MEMO-GATE: A secret strategy memo designed to weaken Republicans in North Carolina is also getting attention in Florida, where elements of the plan were derived. Florida GOP Chairman Lenny Curry issued a memo to tie Florida Democrats to the plan: "In short, this document is as disgusting as it is alarming, and shows that Democrats do not want to reach across the aisle to find common sense solutions. Instead, they seek to divide and conquer. But this strategy is not just limited to North Carolina. These tactics actually have their roots right here in Florida, as the leaked document, public records and news reports make abundantly clear." (More on Florida memo below.)

TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory visits western North Carolina on Friday. He will read "Oh, The Places You'll Go," as part of Dr. Seuss day. (Gov. Bev Perdue read "Cat in the Hat" last year.) And later McCrory will visit Black Mountain's Main Street.

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more North Carolina politics and analysis below.***

Morning Memo: McCrory concerned about payday lending, GOP activist hired as lobbyist

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The GOP kerfuffle about sweeping clean state board appointees continues in a House Rules Committee meeting this morning (read more about it below). Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development Life Science Conference. Senate convenes at 11 a.m. and a controversial measure about control of the Charlotte airport is on the calendar. The House starts at 1 p.m. to consider a bill about using lottery funds for digital education, as the governor pitched in his State of the State address.

McCRORY VOICES CONCERN ABOUT PAYDAY LENDING BILL: The Republican governor is expressing skepticism about a bill to legalize payday lending -- one of the most moneyed efforts this legislative session. From AP: "McCrory spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said Wednesday the governor has objections to a Senate bill that would reinstitute a class of loans of up to $500 for which lenders could charge fees reaching $75. Industry representatives say the government-regulated loans provide a needed credit option for people with nowhere else to go. Feldman says this and similar legislation don't align with McCrory's objective to lessen the financial burden of families. She says high-risk loans put families in danger of incurring debt."

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the tipsheet for N.C. politics. Send tips and news to And read much more below.***

America Votes claims ownership of strategy memo linked to Blueprint

The leader of a political nonprofit group came forward Wednesday as the author of a leaked strategy memo on how to attack Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican leaders.

Jessica Laurenz, the North Carolina director for America Votes, said she wrote and distributed the draft memo – not Blueprint North Carolina, a Raleigh group being blamed for crafting the plan to “eviscerate the (Republican) leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”

In an interview, Laurenz defended the memo saying “America Votes has not done anything wrong or out of the ordinary” and didn’t regret “strongly urging my colleagues to fight for what we believe in.”

The memo, leaked to reporters last week as a document originating from Blueprint, was first reported by The Charlotte Observer – an article which ran in this newspaper. The story was quickly pounced upon by Republicans. McCrory called the memo shameful.” House Speaker Thom Tillis used it as a fundraising appeal. The N.C. Republican Party registered complaints with the Internal Revenue Service and the state elections board, asking both to investigate Blueprint for political activity outside its charitable status.

GOP calls for IRS, board of elections to investigate Blueprint

CORRECTION: Blueprint does not coordinate activities for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence as this post originally noted. The coalition is a nonpartisan, non political organization.

The North Carolina Republican Party has filed two complaints against Blueprint North Carolina, a nonprofit that distributes information and coordinates activities for a variety of nonprofits in the state.

The GOP wants the State Board of Elections and the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Blueprint for political activity that the party says is “well outside the boundaries of a charitable organization with privileged tax status.”

The GOP is referring to memos leaked to the press last week and first reported by the Charlotte Observer.

Morning Memo: Redistricting in the courts, education in the legislature

THE MOST IMPORTANT POLITICAL STORY IN N.C.: The legal fight about the new political boundaries drawn by Republicans in the redistricting process is headed to court this week. A three-judge panelwill hear the arguments Monday and Tuesday after Democrats and groups fighting the maps filed suit contending they were unlawful. The new boundaries seal Republican power in the state legislature for the next decade and Democrats need a judicial reversal to regain strength.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will focus on education this week, with local school superintendents from across the state invited to meet with lawmakers. House Speaker Thom Tillis will hold a 3 p.m. press conference to discuss "education week." The House and Senate convene Monday evening for skeleton sessions. No votes are expected.

***Good Monday morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Find more political news and a weekend headline wrap below. And find out more information about the N&O's new iPad app, available for download now. (Programming note: Dome is not available on the app at the moment. Look for an upgrade later.)***

Morning Roundup: Blueprint, cursive, DMV -- oh my!

It's Blueprint North Carolina's turn to be in the spotlight at least another day, as the head of the nonprofit group now says it didn't distribute the controversial strategy memo that offered options to discredit GOP leaders. He suggests political dirty tricks are at play.

A "Back to Basics" bill in the House would require students be taught cursive writing. (Holding an instrument called a pen or a pencil in your fingers and making looping figures on paper to form words and sentences -- before there were keyboards.)

DMV offices in Raleigh and two other cities will be open later on weeknights and on Saturday mornings, DOT Secretary Tony Tata announced. Ultimately, the expanded hours will be statewide.

Who donates to Blueprint?

As The Charlotte Observer reports Friday, Blueprint’s main donor – the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation – is upset at the organization’s strategy memo. The foundation gave Blueprint $425,000 in 2011, according to its most recent IRS filing.

Who else contributes to Blueprint?

Donors to nonprofit organizations are not part of the public file that goes to the IRS. But Blueprint included the information with its filing with the state as a charitable organization.

Leaked memo may jeopardize group's funding

A group that sent out a memo with tips on how to attack Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders exercised “bad judgment” that could jeopardize its funding, the director of a foundation that finances the group said Friday.

Leslie Winner, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, said she was “surprised and disappointed” by the actions of Blueprint North Carolina. “(Z. Smith Reynolds) believes in robust debate on issues of public importance, (it) does not support attacking people,” said Winner, a former Democratic state senator. “We were disappointed to learn that Blueprint is advocating this strategy…

Secret liberal attack plan to take down McCrory, GOP

With Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and other conservatives controlling state government, what’s a North Carolina liberal to do? According to one group, they should:

• “Crippl(e) their leaders (McCrory, Tillis, Berger etc.)”

• “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”

• “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”

• “Slam him when he contradicts his promises.”

Those were among the talking points and action steps in a memo forwarded by Blueprint North Carolina, a partnership of advocacy and policy groups based in Raleigh, according to The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill.

The memo was emailed to groups last week with a warning: “It is CONFIDENTIAL to Blueprint, so please be careful – share with your boards and appropriate staff but not the whole world.”

Here's Morrill's story.

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