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Democratic operative Joe Sinsheimer leaving the state

Joe Sinsheimer, a former Democratic operative turned political analyst, is leaving North Carolina.

His wife has taken a job as executive director of the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University Saskatchewan. Sinsheimer was a political consultant with a particular expertise in opposition research. But as a citizen, he would some times anger Democratic politicians, with his new role as self-appointed watch dog.

He first made his name locally when in 2005 he started a website urging then Democratic House Speaker Jim Black to resign. Sinsheimer took a lot of heat from Democrats at the time, but Black later went to prison.

Sinsheimer also became something of a political analyst providing reporters with perspective on political issues and ongoing political investigations.

Sinsheimer: Statement good news for child

Joe Sinsheimer, the Democratic consultant who has emerged as a leading advocate for good government in the state, said John Edwards' statement is good news for at least one person: his new daughter.

In the statement acknowledging paternity of Frances Quinn Hunter, Edwards said he hopes that one day she will forgive him for denying that he was her father.

"Edwards statement this morning bodes well for the most innocent victim in this political tragedy — his new daughter," Sinsheimer said. "That should be celebrated even as we despair about all of the lies that have piled up over the years."

Sinsheimer targets Rand

Good government watchdog Joe Sinsheimer says Tony Rand must go.

Sinsheimer, a Democratic consultant who has emerged as campaign finance and transparent government watchdog, says Gov. Bev Perdue should reconsider appointing Rand to run the state's parole board.

Sinsheimer noted in a news release that Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat who is leaving the state Senate this month, is chairman of the board of a law enforcement equipment company. Rand told The N&O that he doesn't know much about the details of the company's operation.

A former employee of the company, Law Enforcement Associates, has accused Rand of insider trading. The company has also sold thousands of dollars worth of equipment to state agencies. Rand denies wrongdoing.

Sinsheimer says that if Rand isn't on top of things with his company, then he wouldn't make a good person to lead the state's parole system.

"Given Mr. Rand's public admission that he has failed to execute his board responsibilities at Law Enforcement Associates, is he really the right person to head the state's parole commission?" Sinsheimer said.

Previously: A letter from Sinsheimer to Perdue preceded a new ethics policy and a resignation.

Perdue mulls ethics policy

Gov. Bev Perdue says her staff is exploring a policy that would give the boot to appointees under indictment.

Perdue, a Democrat, was responding to a letter sent by Democratic consultant and watchdog Joe Sinsheimer. The letter called on Perdue to unappoint Ruffin Poole from the Golden LEAF board because Poole refused to testify at a State Board of Elections hearing on former Gov. Mike Easley.

Perdue said her staff is looking into a policy that would remove a gubernatorial appointee who is under indictment or refuses to cooperate with an investigation.

"Like all of us who have the honor of serving in government, those who serve on state boards and committees must be held to high standards," Perdue wrote in her response to Sinsheimer.

Sinsheimer also called on Perdue to release all reports on missing gubernatorial travel records from 2005. Perdue has so far refused to release the records. She wrote that she has appointed a panel to look into the missing records and when the that investigation is complete she would release all records.

Perdue letter.pdf

Watchdog wants reforms

Campaign finance watchdog Joe Sinsheimer is urging Gov. Bev Perdue to remove Ruffin Poole, a former top aide to Gov. Mike Easley, from the Golden LEAF board because he refused to testify at last month's state elections board hearing.

Sinsheimer, a Democratic political consultant who has emerged as an advocate of transparent government and campaign finance reforms, also said Perdue should release all reports on missing gubernatorial travel records from 2005, J. Andrew Curliss reports on the Investigations blog.

Perdue has so far refused to release the records.

In addition, he asks for a review of the permitting process surrounding a controversial cement plant near Wilmington, citing ongoing revelations about the state's environmental agency.

There was no immediate response from Perdue.

Update: A spokeswoman for Perdue said this afternoon that the governor is reviewing the letter and did not have a detailed response about Poole. 


Perdue not releasing internal inquiry

Gov. Beverly Perdue today declined to take steps to make public an internal state Highway Patrol investigation into missing records pertaining to her predecessor's travels in 2005.

Patrol officials say the internal affairs investigation, the second of two internal probes into the missing records, cleared a patrol supervisor involved in the records' disappearance, Capt. Alan Melvin. But neither the patrol or its boss, state Crime Control Secretary Reuben Young, are making the report public.

They cite state law that keeps most personnel matters secret. But the law includes an exemption for the release of personnel records when an agency's integrity is in question.

Perdue did not directly answer a reporter's question as to whether she would order the report released. She suggested she did not have the legal authority to do so.

"I'm not a lawyer," said Perdue, a New Bern Democrat. "I'm trying to follow the rules of the law ... I'm constantly told this is privileged information."

More after the jump.

Black moving to Georgia prison

Former House Speaker Jim Black is being moved to a prison closer to home.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Black, a Mecklenburg County Demcrat, was en route late Friday to a federal prison in Jesup, Ga., 300 miles south of Charlotte, according to former Mecklenburg commissioners chairman Parks Helms, a friend of Black's who also served in the state House.

That's more than 200 miles closer to home than his former prison in Lewisburg, Pa.

Last month, more than 150 friends of Black - including Helms, Matthews Mayor Lee Myers and former Republican Gov. Jim Martin - wrote letters to federal prison officials asking for leniency because of the failing heath of Black, 74, and his wife.

They also wrote letters to President Barack Obama, asking that Black's sentence be commuted.

Helms said he fears nothing short of commuting Black's sentence will allow his ailing wife to see him.

Black's wife, Betty, has degenerative Lou Gehrig's disease and Helms said he feels the move doesn't get Black close enough to her.

“It doesn't matter whether it's a hundred miles or 200,” Helms said. “She's just actually got limited time. … I think a commutation now is really the only thing that can give her and probably (Black) some relief.”

UPDATE: An official at the prison in Jesup confirmed Saturday that they do have an inmate named James Black.

Read more after the jump.

Martin, others want break for Black

Former Republican Gov. Jim Martin plans to be among those asking federal officials to move former Democratic House Speaker Jim Black to a prison closer to home or to commute his sentence.

Black's attorney says about 150 people — including interim N.C. State University Chancellor Jim Woodward and several legislators — already have written on Black's behalf. Black has been locked up since July 2007 in Lewisburg, Pa., the prison that once held union boss Jimmy Hoffa and crime boss John Gotti. Black is scheduled for release in 2012.

Black, 74, was sentenced for accepting thousands of dollars in illegal payments while speaker of the N.C. House.

Friends say not only has he become increasingly infirm, but his wife, Betty, has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — "Lou Gehrig's Disease."

Not everybody wants Black's term cut.

"Jim Black wants our compassion today, but all we ever wanted from him was honest government," says Joe Sinsheimer, a Raleigh consultant whose research helped lead to Black's downfall. (Char-O)

...than the speaker you don't know

Joe Sinsheimer, the man whose jimblackmustgo Web site helped topple former House Speaker Jim Black, may be having some regrets.

That's what he wrote on Facebook, anyway.

Legislators are considering shaving a few days off the end of the 2009-2010 school year to save money. Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat and education budget writer, said those final days are of limited instructional value.

Sinsheimer wrote: "It is really dangerous when someone as well-respected as Rep. Rick Glazier tells us that the last two weeks of school have limited instructional value. Years from now, when the current budget fiasco has passed, these words will be flung into the face of any who lobby for more funds for our schools. Who would have thought that Joe Hackney et al would be leading this. My God, I am starting to miss Jim Black."

State pay cuts must go?

Joe Sinsheimer is back consulting, and his newest client is the State Employees Association of North Carolina.

Sinsheimer said the association hired him this month to help them respond to the many changes expected as Gov. Beverly Perdue and lawmakers hammer out a budget that is expected to include major cuts, Dan Kane reports.

He said he will help the association with communications strategies, but he will not be lobbying governmental officials. He declined to say what SEANC is paying him.

"State employees need to sift through all of the changes that are coming their way, and figure out how they can respond, how they can work with the state to improve service delivery and maintain service delivery," Sinsheimer said. "So they are feeling that given the magnitude of sea change in front of them, they wanted an extra pair of hands to help."

More after the jump.

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