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Goodwin calls fundraising solicitation 'poor wording'

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said Tuesday he plans to change a fundraising solicitation for his "Commissioners Club" that raised eyebrows for how it promised donors access to private dinners and a special newsletter.

The Democrat said any concerns about the email sent earlier this week to potential donors was "more a function of poor wording" than special favors for donors. "In looking at it, I can see how it would be interpreted," he said. "I have a lengthy history of supporting transparency and campaign finances that provide footing for all voters," he said.

Morning Memo: Goodwin promises access for campaign cash

GOODWIN ADVERTISES ACCESS FOR CAMPAIGN CASH: Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is soliciting campaign donors to join his "Commissioner's Club," promising private dinners to high-level contributors and emailed "personal updates" on his agency's work. "Be ahead of your friends and colleagues with exclusive updates -- join the Commissioner's Club TODAY," a campaign email states. (Click below for more.)

TODAY IN POLITICS:The Council of State meets this morning at 9 a.m. to handle a number of property matters. Gov. Pat McCrory's office said he won't take questions, as is customary, after the meeting. House and Senate committees are full of action now that the deadline for the majority of bills has passed and the machinations begin. (See more below). The Legislative Black Caucus will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. to criticize "tea party Republicans" who want to change election laws. McCrory will meet privately with Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer later this morning.

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo. Read more on Goodwin's latest fundraising effort, get all the N.C. political headlines and more below. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com.***

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.***

Unlike politicians, Real Jobs acted quickly to return sweepstakes money

It didn't take long for Real Jobs NC, a political committee focused on electing Republican lawmakers, to relinquish money from an indicted sweepstakes company owner. VS2 donated $4,000 to the committee Oct. 1 and an owners of the company, Phillip Cornick, gave another $20,000 on the same date.

But unlike lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory, the committee quickly returned the contribution because Real Jobs officials realized the company and Cornick were indicted six months earlier in Ohio. The return checks were sent Oct. 18 and 19, according to Roger Knight, the committee's attorney.

Earlier this week, McCrory gave back the $2,000 check he received from the wife of a VS2 official. Other state lawmakers have yet to say what they will do.

Morning Memo: Another big day at the statehouse, gambling money purge continues

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: Another big day at the legislature as the legislative session nears the half-way mark and the bill filing deadline. 10 a.m.: The Senate Education Committee considers a bill to take charter school oversight authority away from the state's Department of Public Instruction and loosen requirements on the schools. Noon: House Public Utilities considers bill to stifle the state's consumer advocacy group. 1 p.m.: House Elections Committee will discuss repeal of campaign finance matching money for candidates, a measure included in the governor's budget. The committee sent a notice that the voter ID measure is on hold temporarily so it can consider other legislation, a reversal from what lawmakers planned. At the same time, the Senate Finance Committee will begin talk about taxes with discussion of a bill to reduce the burden on businesses but no votes are expected. 2 p.m.: The Carolina Panthers bill is on the House calendar. The Senate convenes simultaneously with no major bills on the desk.

Today, Gov. Pat McCrory sticks to his comfort zone for another address to another business group, this one is the N.C. Chamber's annual conference in Greensboro. Later in the day, he'll meet privately with the N.C. Sheriff's Association.

GAMBING MONEY PURGE CONTINUES: As the Morning Memo reported Tuesday, McCrory forfeited campaign contributions from a second sweepstakes company executive charged in an gambling ring. And as AP found, the purge is likely to continue: McCrory received another $8,000 in October from John Patrick Fannin and his wife, who live in Little River, South Carolina, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press. Fannin is also among the sweepstakes operators indicted by Florida prosecutors in the Allied Veteran's case. (A McCrory spokeswoman) said McCrory's campaign will review those donations, too.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. Much more N.C. political news and analysis below.***

Gov. McCrory forfeits contribution from another gambling executive

Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign said Tuesday it would forfeit the money received from the wife of a North Carolina man indicted in an Ohio gambling operation.

VS2 Worldwide Communications owner Richard Upchurch's wife, Sherry, gave the Republican a $2,000 check in October -- six months after he was indicted by an Ohio prosecutor for illegal gambling and money laundering. A superseding indictment came down March 13.

Kim Genardo, a McCrory spokeswoman, said the governor's campaign donated the $2,000 contribution to a charity. State law does not require candidates to purge the money but it is often done by politicians to avoid the appearance of any connection to questionable donors.

Morning Memo: Democrat files first tax bill, McCrory concedes ground

UPDATED: DEMOCRAT FILES FIRST MAJOR TAX BILL: With a bipartisan list of sponsors, Charlotte Democratic Sen. Dan Clodfelter beat Republicans to the punch on tax overhaul legislation. Clodfelter filed a bill Thursday to lower personal and corporate income taxes, as well as the state sales tax with a more modest expansion of taxable services. One big proposed change: a flat income tax rate at 6 percent, instead of three-tiered structure now, as well as exempting the first $11,000 in income from taxation. Clodfelter said it would help all taxpayers but especially low- and middle-income residents.

McCRORY SAYS NO INCOME TAX ELIMINATION: Gov. Pat McCrory, who campaigned on a plan to significantly lower personal and corporate income taxes and possibly eliminate them, is now conceding ground. McCrory took his budget tour on the road Thursday to Wilmington. The Star-News reported: "Even though McCrory cited the state’s tax system as a disadvantage in competition with South Carolina and Virginia, he said it was not possible now to eliminate the personal or corporate income taxes as part of his upcoming tax reform proposals."

***It's March Madness -- in basketball and state politics. Read more Dome Morning Memo below. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. ***

Morning Memo: Ahead of 2014 race, Berger, Tillis hit by national Democrats

2014 WATCH: National Democrats hit potential GOP candidates Tillis, Berger on Ryan budget. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis are making enough moves toward challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagain in 2014 that its attracting the attention of national Democrats. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is asking whether the two Republicans support Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan. "Republicans in Washington are back with their Medicare-busting budget plan, but potential GOP Senate hopefuls Phil Berger and Thom Tillis have yet to tell North Carolinians where they stand," starts a statement from the DSCC set for release later Tuesday.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House will consider a bill to curtail local building design standards that local mayors want stopped dead in its tracks (more below) as well as a measure to limit tanning beds for those under age 18. House convenes at 1 p.m.; Senate convenes at 2 p.m. Gov. Pat McCrory will make a school safety announcement in Apex in the morning.

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for exclusive North Carolina political news and analysis. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Read more 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: Rare session at Capitol, more fallout from tainted donor

UPDATED: TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene this evening in the old legislative chambers at the Capitol to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the recovering of the N.C. Bill of Rights after a Union soldier took it during the Civil War. Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a reception for the event earlier in the day.

McCRORY DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM TAINTED BURNS MONEY:From AP: North Carolina's governor says he had no contact with a campaign contributor who faces racketeering charges in Florida over illegal gambling. Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday he had never heard of Chase Egan Burns, the Oklahoma man accused this week of owning gambling parlors operated by Allied Veterans of the World. Prosecutors say the purported charity earned about $300 million from illegal gambling, with only about 2 percent actually going to veterans. McCrory's campaign has purged itself Wednesday of $8,000 in contributions made in October by Burns and his wife, sending the money to a Durham charity. "I wouldn't know him if I saw him," said McCrory, a Republican. "I think we got it (the checks) through the mail."

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Click "Read More" for more.***

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