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Morning Memo: GOP fundraising, Rural Center face major questions

GOP ABANDONS PLEDGE FOR TAX REFORM: From Rob Christensen's column: Tax reform in North Carolina died last week. RIP. …The House has rolled out its plan, and the Senate has rolled out an alternative plan. Those plans focus almost exclusively on cutting corporate and personal income taxes, rather than revamping the 1930s tax code. So tax reform is dead. In its place, we have large tax cuts, the size and shape of which will be worked out in a House-Senate conference committee. Cutting taxes is in the Republican comfort zone. Reforming the tax code is not. Full story.

LOBBYING FIRM ACTED AS TILLIS, McCRORY FUNDRAISING CONDUIT: The giving by the sweepstakes industry also puts a spotlight on fundraising efforts organized by McGuireWoods. Multiple contributions from sweepstakes operators were often recorded on the same days, with the largest group coming on May 16, 2012, when the Tillis campaign tallied a total of $60,002 from 19 individuals. Days earlier, on May 10, McGuireWoods held a fundraiser at its Raleigh office attended by Payne and lobbyists from other organizations. Harry Kaplan, a McGuireWoods lobbyist, said he invited clients who were interested in meeting with Tillis to talk about the issues they represented. They could also make campaign contributions, which some did, he said.

***More on Tillis, McCrory campaign fundraising, the sweepstakes industry and questions clouding the N.C. Rural Center and top Republicans below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Outgoing senator wants charter school process reviewed

Republican State Sen. Wes Westmoreland, a Shelby businessman, served one year in the legislature. He was appointed to replace the retiring Sen. Debbie Clary and didn't seek re-election. But before he left, the Republican lawmaker made sure to get one more pet cause on a legislative study list.

Westmoreland appointed to Senate

Wes Westmoreland, the former Cleveland County GOP chairman, has been chosen to fill the seat vacated by 17-year incumbent Sen. Debbie Clary, according to the Shelby Star.

But Westmoreland, the owner of a printing company, has agreed only to serve out the remainder of Clary's term and will not seek election to a full term in November. That is because Cleveland County has been drawn into a new district with Sen. Warren Daniel of Burke County who is seeking re-election and Westmoreland has agreed to back Daniel.

“I've been very clear I was not going to stand for election in 2012,” Westmoreland told Star. “This is obviously a temporary seat. Whether it's one year or 17 years, we hold a temporary seat, a temporary trust of the public, and I will do my best to fill that.”

Westmoreland ran for the state Senate in 2006, losing to Democrat Walter Dalton, who is now lieutenant governor.

He was chosen by the Republican senatorial district committee. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue is obliged to appoint Westmoreland. In announcing her resignation, Clary has said she wants to become involved in lobbying.

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