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Former McCrory aide departs from McCrory's former employer

Brian Nick, a former strategist for Gov. Pat McCrory, is leaving his job at a Charlotte law firm to return to the political media company where he formerly worked.

Earlier this year, Nick went to work for Moore & Van Allen, the law firm that had employed McCrory until his inauguration. Nick said he’s returning to Strategic Perception to “pursue some projects that are more political in nature.” Strategic Perception was a key player in McCrory's 2012 election.

He was part of the public affairs division at the law firm, fielding repeated questions in recent weeks about the firm's role in funneling sweepstakes money to political candidates on behalf of Chase Burns, an Internet cafe company president charged in Florida for money laundering and racketeering.

“MVA is a wonderful firm with exceptional people,” he said Tuesday, “and I very much appreciate the opportunity and experience.” --Jim Morrill, Observer staff writer

Democracy NC calls for probe of lobbyists tied to McCrory, Shanahan

An independent government-watchdog group on Friday asked the state’s lobbying regulators to investigate lobbyists associated with the governor and the head of the public safety agency.

Democracy North Carolina wants to know if Gov. Pat McCrory’s former employer, the Moore & Van Allen law firm in Charlotte, and Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan’s former law firm in Raleigh violated lobbying laws.

The questions are related to Moore & Van Allen’s representation of the Internet sweepstakes industry, which donated more than half a million dollars to North Carolina political campaigns, much of it through the firm. The Associated Press reported on that in April. Other questions deal with the close relationship between the Shanahan Law Group and the CompassNC lobbying firm, as reported by The News & Observer.

Democracy North Carolina executive director Bob Hall sent the letter to Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. The Secretary of State’s office regulates lobbyists. A spokesman said the letter was being reviewed Friday.

Morning Memo: N.C. Realtors launch new effort against tax plan

REALTORS TO LAUNCH NEW TV CAMPAIGN AGAINST TAX PLAN: The N.C. Realtors Association is preparing to launch a second, big-dollar campaign to challenge the N.C. Senate's tax overhaul efforts in coming days. The new TV ad campaign says the Senate tax plan to repeal the state deduction for mortgage interest will hurt middle class families. The group's strategist Chris Sinclair said the TV buy is in the "hundreds of thousands" and will run for three weeks. The realtors began the campaign a month ago with TV and online ads and the total cost is likely to approach $1million, he said. "The realtors believe this is a watershed moment for homeowners," Sinclair said.

McCRORY TO FETE BIG CAMPAIGN DONOR: Gov. Pat McCrory lists one public event on his schedule Friday: a retirement party for William "Bill" Shumaker, the CEO at Kewaunee Scientific. Shumaker and his wife donated $11,000 to McCrory's campaign in the 2012 cycle and another $2,000 in his losing 2008 bid, according to campaign finance reports. McCrory resigned from Kewaunee's board of directors on Jan. 5, the day he was sworn in as governor. The company paid him $53,168 in total compensation in the year that ended April 2012, federal corporate records show.

***Happy Friday and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a North Carolina political news tipsheet. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: More arrests expected at legislature, McCrory to Texas

MORE ARRESTS EXPECTED AT LEGISLATURE: Activists fighting the Republican legislative agenda say they will return to the Legislative Building on Monday and more plan to be arrested. The civil disobiendence, led by the N.C. NAACP and other groups, is design to raise the public's awareness of the policies GOP-lawmakers are pushing this session. A demonstration a week ago led to 17 arrests.

McCRORY TO TOUT DRILLING IN TEXAS: From AP -- Gov. Pat McCrory is visiting an offshore energy trade conference in Texas to try to help build momentum for drilling off the coast of North Carolina and other states. McCrory says he'll participate Monday in a panel discussion with other governors at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. McCrory says the energy industry could create thousands of jobs and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and generate state revenues.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. More North Carolina politics below. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. ***

Morning Memo: Money in politics, guns in bars

THE NAKED REALITY OF POLITICS: Much of politics is about money. But it's rare to see it so plainly stated in black and white: "We didn't give them money because we liked them," sweepstakes operator William George told the Associated Press. "We just knew they were powerful people up in Raleigh and they could get done what we wanted to get done. You give them your money and they're supposed to do what they say they're going to do." (More on the story below.)

TODAY IN POLITICS: The current State Board of Elections meets for the final time at 9 a.m. today before Gov. Pat McCrory's new appointees take office Wednesday. The board had planned to launch a formal investigation into the gambling money -- received by the governor, top GOP legislative leaders and some Democrats. But board members backed off the idea now that they are lame ducks.

AT THE STATEHOUSE: A House committee will consider a bill to limit pre-K programs, in part to children under the federal poverty line. The full House meets at 2 p.m. and will consider a controversial firearms bill to allow guns in restaurants and bars that serve alcohol. The UNC system is also opposed because it allows guns in cars on college campuses. The Senate will meet at 2 p.m. On its calendar is a measure to require a parent to report a child missing after 24 hours -- it is named after Caylee Anthony. Gov. Pat McCrory is attending two feel-good events Tuesday in Charlotte, first a YMCA prayer breakfast and then a Wells Fargo "Reading Above Par" event.

***More on the sweepstakes money, arrests at the legislature and Jamie Hahn death investigation below in today's Dome Morning Memo -- the place for North Carolina political news and analysis.***

Morning Memo: State to probe gambling money; contentious day in N.C. House

STATE ELECTION OFFICIALS TO INVESTIGATE GAMBLING DONATIONS: State elections officials are calling for an investigation of $235,000 in political donations to dozens of North Carolina candidates from an Oklahoma sweepstakes operator, contributions that they say may have violated state campaign finance laws, AP reported. Gov. Pat McCrory, state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger are among those who received the checks, many of them mailed from a Charlotte lobbying firm where McCrory worked until just before he took office.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will consider three highly contentious measures Tuesday: first, a sweeping immigration bill at 10 a.m. in House Judiciary Subcommittee B and a gun bill at the same time in House Judiciary Subcommittee A, and then, at 2 p.m., the full House convenes to hear a voter ID measure. Immigration advocates are expected to appear in full force at the legislative building today to lobby. Also today: a House panel will also consider a bill to adopt a state marsupial, among other state symbols, and a Senate committee will hear a bill to make hospitals more transparent in their billing.

Gov. Pat McCrory -- and legislative leaders -- will attend the NFIB meeting in Raleigh at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Later in the day, the governor will sign Kilah's Law (HB75) at a 4:30 p.m. ceremony at the Capitol.

Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- our thoughts are with Jamie and Nation Hahn's family and friends today. More North Carolina political news and analysis below.

Report: Burns' donations topped $235,000, linked to lobbying firm

The sweepstakes company owner caught in an illegal gambling ring gave more than $235,000 to North Carolina political candidates and parties in 2012, ranking as the largest individual donor to legislative contenders, according to a new analysis of state campaign finance records.

The total reported by Democracy North Carolina, a Raleigh-based elections watchdog group, is at least $60,000 more than previously known. Not all legislative candidates are required to file electronic campaign finance data, but Democracy North Carolina scoured the paper forms to find obscured contributions from Burns and his wife.

The lawmakers who received the most money, not surprisingly, were the legislative leadership: Senate leader Phil Berger received $8,000 and House Speaker Thom Tillis took $6,500. The report identified 63 lawmakers who accepted campaign checks, including 21 who received the maximum $4,000 per race (19 Republicans and two Democrats).

One nexus of the donations appears to be Moore & Van Allen, the law firm that lobbied for Burns' company, International Internet Technologies, and formerly employed Gov. Pat McCrory. The Republican governor received $8,000 from Burns and his wife (which he later donated to charity) but said he didn't know Burns.

Morning Memo: McCrory in spotlight in MetLife deal

BIG JOBS DEAL PUTS McCRORY IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Charlotte law firm Moore & Van Allen, where Gov. Pat McCrory was employed until just days before taking office, helped the New York-based insurance company negotiate with state and local governments to receive more than $94 million in taxpayer-funded incentives in return for the promise to add more than 2,600 jobs in the next three years. The connection raises questions in the minds of Democrats about McCrory’s role in the deal and again shines light on his employment at the law firm, which also runs a lobbying practice in Raleigh. Republicans used similar concerns to reject a major economic development project under Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, citing how the company hired a Raleigh law firm that employed her son.

TODAY IN POLITICS: McCrory will tout the MetLife deal at another event in Charlotte Friday. The U.S. Labor Department reports the national unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, a four year low. The full N.C. Mining and Energy Commission meets Friday as the debate about what to do with fracking waste remains unresolved and lawmakers are getting involved.

Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Much more on the MetLife deal and the political implications below. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Have a good weekend and Go Heels!

Morning Memo: 'Gov. Pay Raise', Sen. Hartsell face tough questions

GOV. PAY RAISE: The salary hikes Gov. Pay McCrory gave to his cabinet are stricking a chord. From N&O columnist Barry Saunders: If you saw our new governor live or on television banging away on a drum set with a band at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre last week, you already know Ringo has nothing to worry about.

For further evidence that the governor is tone deaf, all you had to do was read the newspaper the next day and see that Gov. Pat, henceforth known as Gov. Pay Raise, McCrory bestowed sizable raises on the people closest to him while sprinkling a pittance upon those outside his inner circle – you know, the ones who do the actual work.

You are reading the Dome Morning Memo, an analysis of the day's political headlines. Read much more below. Thanks.

AHEAD THIS WEEK: The UNC system committee considering a new five-year plan meets Monday. The NAACP holds is own legislative briefing -- sure to be much different from the one Republicans will hold -- Tuesday to talk about poverty and economic justice.

Former government tax attorney moves to Moore & Van Allen

Canaan Huie, former general counsel at the state Department of Revenue, starts a new job today at the law and lobbying firm Moore & Van Allen, Gov.-elect Pat McCrory's old stomping ground.

Prior two his two years at Revenue, Huie spent a dozen years working at the legislature. His time on Jones Street included a stint on Rep. Joe Hackney's staff when the Orange County Democrat was House Speaker.

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