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Morning Memo: Tillis dodges shutdown questions; McHenry pressed on Obamacare

TILLIS DODGES GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN QUESTION: Republican Thom Tillis is emphasizing his opposition to the federal health care law in his campaign for the U.S. Senate but at the same time he's avoiding answering some questions on the issue. A Democratic Party operative recently asked the Republican House speaker about whether he agrees with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others who suggested shutting down government to defund the federal health care law.

While walking to a recent D.C. fundraiser, Tillis didn't offer a direct answer -- even though if elected he may face similar circumstance. "It's not my decision to make but anything we could do to slow down or eliminate Obamacare would be good for the nation," he said in a video posted online. (Watch above.)

Does Tillis agree with North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr that a shutdown is the "dumbest idea" ever? Again no answer. "I'm going to leave that to the duly elected senators but i think we can do to stop Sen. Hagan and President Obama from creating all the uncertainty and cost that comes with Obamacare it would be a good thing," he said. Expect both questions to return soon.

***See the Tillis video below in the Dome Morning Memo, along with another video from Republicans punking people at the "Moral Monday" rally.

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.***

Morning Memo: Bill Maher's screed rips North Carolina GOP

BILL MAHER RIPS NORTH CAROLINA A NEW ONE: Comedian and liberal commenter Bill Maher spent five minutes recapping North Carolina's rightward political shift concluding: "North Carolina is going ape $*!# in a way no other state has."

Maher introduces the clip comparing the state to a third world country "where Democracy itself hangs in the balance." He later blames Art Pope for the circumstances and suggested his guest Jay-Z ought to buy the state. See the clip above.

McCRORY WATCH: Gov. Pat McCrory hasn’t signed any bills in a week and there are 38 of them on his desk. Deadline to sign them is a minute before midnight on Sunday, Aug. 25. He signed a spate of legislation July 29.

***The biggest bill on his desk -- read about it below. Along with more North Carolina political news in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Personnel file: Former Rep. Gillespie takes on new roles

Former state Rep. Mitch Gillespie is taking on two new roles in the McCrory administration. The governor appointed the Marion Republican to the Southern States Energy Board and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. He is currently the assistant secretary at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Other recent appointments from Gov. Pat McCrory:

--George Howard, the former business partner with DENR Secretary John Skvarla, was named to the Interstate Mining Commission. Howard is the co-founder and CEO of Raleigh-based Restoration Systems, an environmental mitigation company. He is also on the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission.

Senate tentatively OKs boards & commissions bill, despite concerns about getting rid of judges

The Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved the bill that would give Republican legislators and the GOP governor the power to remove all members of several key boards and commissions and replace them with their own choices.

Republicans agreed to take another day for the final vote.

The approval along party lines came despite warnings from Democrats that the bill could be unconstitutional because the General Assembly is not allowed to remove individual judges from office. Republicans said it's OK to eliminate the positions of 12 special superior court judges, who often travel around the state to hear cases.

1360188338 Senate tentatively OKs boards & commissions bill, despite concerns about getting rid of judges The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

GOP bill would sweep out current key boards, commission members

A bill began moving through the General Assembly on Tuesday that would sweep out the members of several important state boards and commissions so that they could be replaced by appointments by the governor and the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican from Southport, told the Senate Rules Committee the bill streamlines government by getting rid of unnecessary boards and commissions, and that it allows several key entities to be run by appointees who “are more like-minded and willing to carry out the philosophy of the new administration.

“This administration should begin to wield its power,” Rabon said.

McCrory appoints 10 men to state transportation board

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory named 10 men to the state Board of Transportation on Monday, including several developers and a former state Republican Party chairman.

The board has 19 members. It wasn't clear whether McCrory intends to replace any of the nine members whose replacements were not named Monday. A spokesman said only that these appointments were the only ones being announced now.

Legislative leaders offer window on appointments

The leaders of the state House and Senate have posted links to make it easier to see who's getting appointed.

House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate Leader Marc Basnight are responsible for appointing 1,500 seats on 200 state boards and commissions that have regulatory and licensing functions.

The information is public, but can be difficult to find online, the leaders note in a news release. Basnight and Hackney have created Web pages that show appointments by date or provide a way to search. 

"The thousands of people who sit on these government boards volunteer to help make North Carolina better," Hackney said. "They are also an extension of our government and though my appointments have always been done publicly and openly, this new link will make it even easier to see who helps advise us and in some cases make policy on the state’s behalf."

"Those who are serving our state on these many boards deserve our appreciation and the people they serve can now have easier access to their names," Basnight said.

The House appointments page can be found here and the Senate page is here.

Checks may signal Wynn nomination

N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Jim Wynn has been the subject of a federal background check, a sign that he may be nominated for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

The FBI has been conducting a background investigation of Wynn, questioning people around the court houses in Raleigh, Rob Christensen reports.

"I’ve been interviewed by the FBI who didn’t tell me for what," said federal Magistrate Judge William W. Webb. "I know the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington has been calling people about him."

Wynn was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and 2001 for the 4th Circuit but he was never confirmed by the Senate, largely because of opposition by then Sen. Jesse Helms.

President Barack Obama has not indicated who he would nominate. But Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is pushing hard for another North Carolinian on the 4th Circuit and there has considerable speculation that Wynn is one of the candidates she is pushing.

He is also being championed by Congressman G.K. Butterfield, his former law partner, who is a close Obama ally.

House votes to close loophole

The House voted Wednesday require political appointees to report their fundraising activities.

The bill, which had sponsors from both parties, expands who must report fundraising and also closes a loophole that applied to the reporting required of the Board of Transportation. Members of that board were previously required to list their activities, but some appointees under former Gov. Mike Easley used a legal opinion to hide their fundraising activities.

Board members, including former member Louis Sewell of Jacksonville, had said he did no fundraising even though he was a big fundraiser in Easley's 2000 campaign.

Easley had obtained an attorney general's opinion that said fundraisers did not have to disclose their efforts unless they personally accepted contributions from individuals. That meant that typical fundraising activities such as holding receptions and soliciting people for contributions were not considered fundraising.

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