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Berger, Tillis call voting lawsuit 'baseless,' while Hagan, Democrats cheer move

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis called the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against the North Carolina voting law "baseless."

Reacting to the lawsuit, the two Republican legislative leaders issued a joint statement saying it is "nothing more than an obvious attempt to quash the will of the voters and hinder a hugely popular voter ID requirement."

"The law was designed to improve consistency, clarity and uniformity at the polls and it brings North Carolina’s election system in line with a majority of other states," the statement continued. "We are confident it protects the right of all voters, as required by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.”

Meanwhile, Democrats and interest groups cheered the move, including U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who had urged the Justice Department to review the law.

State Democrats choose former lawmaker for post

Former state representative. and congressional candidate Patsy Keever of Asheville was elected first vice chairwoman of the state Democratic Party in Greensboro on Saturday.

Keever replaces Nina Szlosberg-Landis of Raleigh, who resigned in June citing differences with Chairman Randy Voller.

Keever, chairwoman of the Buncombe County Democrats, was credited with organizing a bus trip for teachers to a "Moral Monday" protest in Raleigh and organizing the recent "Mountain Moral Monday" in Asheville.

-- Lynn Bonner

Morning Memo: Perdue closes her campaign for good, leave Democratic party hanging

PERDUE CLOSES CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT: From AP: Former N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue has closed her campaign accounts, distributing the more than $1.2 million political war chest raised for her derailed 2012 re-election bid. Nearly $800,000 went to the Democrat and her husband to repay personal loans made to her political campaigns between 2000 and 2008, according to campaign finance disclosure reports filed last week with the N.C. Board of Elections.

Another $200,000 went to a pair of writers assisting Perdue with her autobiography and about $120,000 went to a charity. Most of the remainder was paid to lawyers and campaign staff.

***Find out who Perdue left off her campaign spending list below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

More legal fighting among state Democrats

Michael Carmichael, co-founder of CC & Associates, said Wednesday that he had filed a civil action for libel in Orange County Superior Court against Frank Eaton and his company Bully Documentary, Inc.

The complaint centers on Easton's video: "For the Good of the Party," which he aired last spring, which he accused state Democratic Party chairman Randy Voller of mismanaging the party and called on party activists to investigate. Among other things, he questioned how Carmichael, a consultant and friend of Voller, was being paid $6,000 per month.

"Eaton's personal non-stop campaign of slander, libel and defamation knows no bounds of decency, accuracy or integrity," Carmichael said in a statement. "Easton's video was predicated on false, misleading and defamatory allegations.''

Carmichael said that Eaton and his company were paid more than $35,000 to produce a video for the party and that since a new proposal for videos was turned down, Eaton has sought to attack Voller and people associated with him.

Morning Memo: McCrory's earnings disclosed; Chairman's mortgage under fire

PAT McCRORY MADE $175,000 ON CORPORATE BOARDS: Gov. Pat McCrory’s state financial disclosure form offers little insight into his wealth. But newly filed corporate records show the Republican made more than $175,000 in 2012 as a board member for two publicly traded companies. According to federal Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed in May, McCrory made $138,204 in total compensation (salary and stock awards) as a director at Tree.com, an online mortgage lender, through Dec. 31, 2012. SEC records filed in late July show he earned another $38,555 in total compensation as a Kewaunee Scientific director from April 2012 to the end of the year. The company paid his health insurance, which accounts for about $9,000 of the total.

McCrory resigned both boards just before he became governor. What still remains unknown: how much he made as a consultant for his brother’s firm and his previous salary at Moore & Van Allen, a Charlotte law firm that does lobbying work. (Not to mention his clients for each.) And his total wealth.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN FACES CRITICS AGAIN: N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller is facing heat from his naysayers again. Democratic operative Frank Eaton recently posted new court documents online showing Voller's home subject to foreclosure for delinquent payments.

But Voller refutes the suggestions that his finances -- which previously became a liability for Democrats -- are once again poised to embarrass the party. A day after the July 25 filing from Wells Fargo, Voller was accepted in a mortgage modification program, according to documents he provided to Dome. He said the court filing was merely part of the modification process.

***Read more from Voller and get a roundup of North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.

Morning Memo: Rural Center questions continue, First Lady steps out

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: In committees, a number of contentious measures are being considered for discussion only. The House Finance Committee will review a taxpayer bill of rights, known as TABOR, that would constitutionally limit state spending. The Senate Education Committee will look at a House-approved bill to give students with disabilities vouchers to attend private schools. Senate lawmakers will also hear a bill in the Finance Committee that critics argue would allow mega-dumps and attract out-of-state trash. Also, the House Commerce Committee will roll out a major bill on Gov. Pat McCrory's agenda to reorganize the state commerce department.

In a rare appearance, First Lady Ann McCrory will step into the spotlight and hold her first news conference to ask the Senate to pass a watered down measure to regulate so-called puppy mills. The House approved the bill but the Senate has sat on it for a month without action. Her event is at 3:30 p.m. at the mansion. Gov. McCrory will have breakfast with lawmakers and then host his education cabinet at 1 p.m.

RURAL CENTER UNDER FIRE: Several board members of the taxpayer-funded N.C. Rural Economic Development Center said this week they are concerned about practices brought to light in a recent News & Observer series and welcome additional oversight.Rural Center leaders, however, said the newspaper reports do not properly reflect the organization’s work.

***More on the Rural Center controversy -- and the N.C. Democratic Party troubles, as well as a headline only Asheville could do best -- below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Democratic Party settles internal dispute regarding chairman

A month after four Democratic Party members filed a petition against state Chairman Randy Voller the two sides came to an signed agreement to resolve the dispute.

Petitioners John D. Burns, Greg Flynn, Treva R. Johnson and Montica Talmadge had accused Voller on May 8 of breaking party rules after he fired the party’s executive director and appointed himself interim executive director. They wanted him removed from the interim director post.

But in the settlement agreement, Burns, Flynn, Johnson and Talmadge agreed to compromise with Voller.

Rutherford Dems call for Voller's resignation

More trouble for state Democratic Party chairman Randy Voller.

The Rutherford County Democratic Party's Executive Committee on Thursday passed a resolution calling on Voller to resign because of the “irresponsible and controversial decisions lost the confidence of Democratic voters, elected officials, and longtime financial supporters.''

Earlier in the week, Nina Szlosberg-Landis, the party's vice chair resigned citing her inability to work with Voller.

Voller, the Pittsboro mayor, was elected in January, has come under fire because some of his spending decisions including a fund raising trip to Las Vegas with friends.

Voller: We are going to miss Nina

State Democratic Chair Randy Voller said Tuesday he was saddened by the resignation of his second in command, but ignored the criticism that was aimed at him.

Nina Szlosberg-Landis sent out a letter Monday night announcing that she stepping down as first vice chairman of the state Democratic Party, saying she had a difficult time working with Voller.

In a statement Tuesday, Voller had nothing but praise for Szlosberg-Landis.

“We are better because of Nina's service and commitment to this party,” said Voller, the mayor of Pittsboro. “In her time as 1st vice chair, she has served our party with grace, distinction and competence. We know that she will continue this service, regardless of the role she assumes.''

“The door to the Goodwin House will always be open to her and her steadfast dedication to the values we all hold dear as North Carolina,'' Voller said.

Voller said the Democratic Party is "in a transition period" while it builds an effective opposition to Republicans.

Szlosberg-Landis to resign as Democratic 1st vice chair

Nina Szlosberg-Landis, the first vice chair of the state Democratic Party, plans to resign her post Tuesday, citing her differences in working with embattled party chairman Randy Voller.

In a letter sent Monday night to friends, Szlosberg-Landis, a major party fund raiser from Raleigh, writes that she believes she could be more effective raising money for Democrats outside the party organization.

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