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Morning Memo: McCrory closes Latino outreach office

North Carolina’s Latino advocates are voicing alarm following the governor’s decision to eliminate the state’s office for Latino affairs. The closing of the Office of Hispanic/Latino affairs was sudden and caught many by surprise. The move appears to have exacerbated the already tense relationship between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Latino community, including criticism over a driver’s license plan for young immigrants.

Advocates says it sends a message that McCrory and Raleigh conservatives are less concerned with the needs of the Latino community. Paradoxically, it comes at a time when issues of deep concerns, like immigration, are at the political forefront and Republicans nationally are trying to appear more welcoming to Latinos.

***Thanks for reading the Good Friday edition of the Dome Morning Memo. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. More on the Latino office and other big headlines below.***

Morning Roundup: New fracking board raises ethical issues

Members of the new state board overseeing drilling and fracking in North Carolina is not required required to disclose whether they could potentially profit from the practice they oversee. The board chairman Ray Covington and his family own more than 1,000 acres of timberland in Lee County, considered to be a natural gas-rich pay zone and prime fracking territory.

Such issues are not specifically mentioned on the state’s ethics disclosure form, unforeseen by North Carolina’s ethics rules because for the simple reason that there is no history of oil and gas exploration here. Read more here.

More political headlines below.

Sheriff who endorsed McCrory under investigation for racial discrimination

UPDATED: The Alamance County sheriff who is described as a racist in a new federal investigative report coordinated security at Pat McCrory's campaign rally Tuesday but apparently did not take part in the event.

Sheriff Terry Johnson endorsed the Republican's gubernatorial campaign earlier this year. Now he is the subject of an ongoing battle with the U.S. Department of Justice after the agency conducted a two year investigation that determined the sheriff and his deputies discriminated against Latinos, stopping and detaining them, without probable cause in order to boost deportations.

McCrory's campaign refused Tuesday to renounce Johnson. But the campaign did acknowledge that Johnson, a Republican, coordinated security at its Burlington rally featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. A McCrory spokesman made clear that Johnson did not participate in the event.

Latino voter drive kicks off next week

A drive to register Latino voters kicks off next week at all Latino Credit Union branches in the state. Bilingual volunteers from the left-leaning watchdog group Democracy North Carolina and the advocacy groups El Cambio, El Pueblo, and the Latin America Coalition will register voters Monday through Friday.

They will be handing out voter rights information in English and Spanish.

 “Our goal is to provide a safe and easy way for members and non-members to register to vote,” said Erika Bell, vice-president of Strategy & Services at Latino Credit Union, in a news release. "If members of the community who are eligible to vote need to register or update their information, they can conveniently do so at their local credit union. It is another way to help encourage voters to exercise their right.”

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