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Civitas president apologizes for post blasting McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute is apologizing for a blog post he wrote last week and quickly deleted that accused Gov. Pat McCrory and his chief of staff of cronyism.

Francis De Luca posted his mea culpa Tuesday. "In trying to be vigilant against cronyism or even the appearance of cronyism— whether from the left or the right, liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans — I made a mistake," he wrote, saying he skewed some facts in the original piece. "In talking about the event the Governor attended, I painted with too broad a brush by implying that an elected official’s appearance at an event involving organizations that lobby for state funds is tantamount to cronyism."

Civitas deletes story questioning cronyism in McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute removed his story from the conservative-leaning think tank website last week that was critical about "cronyism" in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration and hit hard at his chief-of-staff.

Francis De Luca's story (cached by Google here) criticized the Republican governor for failing to change "the culture of cronyism and insider dealing in Raleigh" by pointing to his appearance at the Sept. 5 inaugural Minority Enterprise Development celebration. De Luca wrote that the event featured two speakers of a group tied to the coalition behind the "Moral Monday" protests and was hosted by the N.C. Women and Business Enterprise Coordinators Network.

The story noted that network is a client of Capitol Access, a lobbying firm led by Yolanda Stith, the wife of McCrory's chief of staff, Thomas Stith. It went further to say that it "may be that Thursday was not the first time that Ms. Stith’s clients benefited from a cooperative governor," highlighting how her clients budget cuts received only small budget cuts in McCrory's proposed budget.

Civitas requests investigations of state elections agency

UPDATED: The Civitas Institute is requesting the North Carolina attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and State Board of Elections investigate state election staffers for engaging in political activity, alleging possible criminal violations, in sweeping complaints filed Tuesday.

The conservative think tank also wants inquiries into the conduct of Bob Hall, the director and lobbyist for Democracy North Carolina, an advocacy organization that often butts heads with Civitas.

In the four letters, Civitas President Francis De Luca identifies three areas for investigation that it uncovered in more than 5,000 emails obtained through public records requests. (Read them below.)

McCrory, Hagan faring well in latest poll

Nearly half of the people asked in a recent survey weren’t sure what to make of new Gov. Pat McCrory yet. The Civitas Poll found 48 percent were either undecided or didn’t know.

But almost as many – 41 percent – approved of the job he is doing, according to the poll of voters taken Jan. 14 and 15. Eleven percent disapproved of the Republican governor, according to the poll by the conservative group.

Laffer lauds GOP lawmakers for tax push at Civitas lawmaker 'training'

Economist Art Laffer told state lawmakers that the movement to overhaul the tax code in North Carolina is crucial to the national "fight for a different sort of economics."

"You are wearing the white hat," he said. "Don't let them take the white hate off you. Go to the goal line."

Laffer, the conservative economist and trickle-down believer, gave the keynote address at a "training" for state lawmakers hosted by the Civitas Institute, a conservative political organization.

The event featured presentations from a number of state lawmakers from outside North Carolina who are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as a ALEC, a controversial group that pushes "model legislation" based on conservative ideology.

Civitas, State Board of Elections trade shots over voting rules

A conservative group has accused state elections director Gary Bartlett of lying in a comment he made to The News & Observer; Bartlett fired back, standing by the accuracy of his comment and characterizing the criticism is part of an ongoing effort to wrongly portray oversight of voter registration and early voting as broken.

Can the GOP keep its grip on North Carolina?

Francis De Luca, a conservative thinker at the Civitias Institute, explores a question on the minds of many in the North Carolina political sphere after Republicans captured the governor's mansion, supermajorities in the state legislature and the likely the lieutenant governor's post.

Will Republicans become a lasting majority? DeLuca writes: "Republican leaders will have to work hard to make the change a lasting one, rather than just another bump in the road for NC Democrats like others over the last 30 years.

... How does this happen? The governor and legislative leaders will have to embrace bold policies that address the problems that have plagued North Carolina fiscally and educationally." Read his full column here.

Civitas Poll: Amendment up big

Two Civitas Institute polls of primary voters show continued strong support for the constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage. 

Considering poll results, early voting trends, and anticipated turnout on May 8, Civitas projects the amendment will pass by at least 16 percentage points.

Separate surveys of Democrats and Republicans showed Democrats supporting the amendment 48 percent to 44 percent, and Republicans supporting it 78 percent to 15 percent.

The amendment would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions.

The strongest support among Democratic voters is among black voters, who support the amendment by a 2-to-1 margin, according to the poll.

"While there is still time for a strong advertising or grassroots effort to change the outcome, it appears supporters of the amendment have the momentum," said Civitas President Francis De Luca.

Civitas presses for source of NC Dem settlement money

The Civitas Institute stepped into the fray today by calling on the state Board of Elections to investigate where the money came from that was used in the N.C. Democratic Party sex harassment settlement.

It's Civitas calling -- except it's not

The phone rings. The caller ID shows: J.W. Pope Civitas Institute. Except the voice you hear is a robocall from New York State Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder.

The Queens Democrat lists his endorsements (including New York U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer) and tells voters the polls open at 9 p.m. Except there's no election state legislative in New York right now.

Confused yet? So are the folks at The Civitas Institute, who have been inundated with curious callers.

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