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McCrory campaign accepted disputed contribution under little-known provision

Pat McCrory's campaign accepted a $4,000 contribution from a nonregistered PAC that appears inappropriate at face value, but may be allowed under a little-known caveat in the state's campaign finance law.

The check came Oct. 20 from the American Federation for Children, a 501(c)4 nonprofit that advocates for school choice, based in Washington with a related PAC under a different name in Indiana. It is not a registered state PAC or federal PAC -- a requirement for a candidates to accept a contribution.

Seeing it, Greg Flynn, a Raleigh campaign finance watchdog, filed a complaint against McCrory's campaign with the N.C. State Board of Elections. But state election officials are leaning toward dismissing the complaint, citing a provision in the law that would seem to allow any non-PAC entities to make direct campaign contributions if they aren't tied too closely with a business.

Under Ch. 163-278.19(f) of state election law appears to allow contributions from entities without a business interest and not established by a business if they don't receive more than 10 percent of their total revenues from corporations.

Document(s):
McCroryAFC.pdf

Pat McCrory helps Thom Tillis raise campaign cash

Gov. Pat McCrory returned to Charlotte Friday to help House Speaker Thom Tillis raise campaign cash. For what campaign isn't clear.

McCrory was Tillis's guest at the Myers Park Country Club fundraiser that attracted some blue chip Charlotte hosts, including Tim Belk, Smokey Bissell, Tom Nelson, Allen Tate and Ed McMahan.

Tillis, holding himself to self-imposed term limits, has said he's in his last term in the House. He could choose to use the money on other House candidates next year. But he's also on the list of possible Republican candidates to challenger Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014.

One sponsor of Friday's fundraiser was Ned Curran, president of Bissell Companies. He said he was supporting Tillis for whatever he needed. Said Curran: "I think it's part of him having resources for himself or for others to be effective at what he does." --Jim Morrill, Observer staff writer

Morning Memo: McCrory budget may emerge soon, men oppose 'nipple bill'

McCRORY BUDGET RELEASE NEXT WEEK? Top GOP lawmakers say Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to release his state budget plan next week. The governor's office is remaining mum. But budget details are leaking to lawmakers, who say McCrory's spending plan isn't like to include details of a major tax overhaul, such as corporate or personal income tax cuts, and instead it will assume the tax plan being negotiated privately by Republicans will be revenue neutral.

MEN OPPOSE NIPPLE BILL: Public Policy Polling will release more from its statewide voter survey later Friday. But here's a peak: nearly half of men -- 45 percent -- oppose the bill to prohibit women from barring their breasts and 34 percent support. Women are deadlocked at 38 percent on what is called the "nipple bill." (Insert stereotypical joke about men here.)

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. And read much more below.***

NC House Dems, McCrory donate campaign cash from sweepstakes owner

UPDATED 3 p.m.:The fallout continues after the arrest of a sweepstakes company owner who played big in North Carolina political circles.

The N.C. House Democratic caucus announced Thursday its members would donate an amount equal to the campaign contributions they received from Chase Burns, the owner of International Internet Technologies, to various veteran charities.

State campaign finance records show at least five House Democratic members received a total of $8,000 from Burns in 2012 -- though the total number and amount is likely much more. Those who took contributions include: Reps. Rick Glazier, Susi Hamilton, Winkie Wilkins, Becky Carney and Joe Tolson. The caucus did not state the total donation amount, as it is still examining campaign finance records.

The move also puts pressure on Republicans to do the same. Republicans received far more money from Burns in 2012. The state GOP House and Senate caucuses accepted $55,000 combined from Burns, who also gave the $4,000 maximum to Gov. Pat McCrory. A party spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday morning. A McCrory spokeswoman said his campaign gave $4,000 to a Durham Rescue Mission.

House speaker raising money off leaked strategy memo

It didn't take long for House Speaker Thom Tillis to use a strategy memo about how to weaken the state's Republican leadership as a way to raise money.

The Republican leader sent a fundraising solicitation Friday, less than a day after the story broke. "We are only three weeks in to the legislative session and ultra-liberal organizations, in partnership with the Democratic Party and Democratic legislative leaders have vowed to "cripple" me," he writes. "The confidential strategy document sayes (sic) the key to their success is to“Eviscerate the [republican] leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”   

N.C. GOP sells access to Gov. Pat McCrory

The N.C. Republican Party has sent out invitations for a private "Governor's Business Roundtable" Wednesday evening featuring Gov. Pat McCrory and state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes, writes the Insider's Patrick Gannon. An email advertising the roundtable and reception says the "future of North Carolina" will be discussed at the event, which will be held at the GOP headquarters on Hillsborough Street.

According to the invite, a "Roundtable Host" pays $5,000 to get two people in, plus a photo opportunity and an annual membership on the Chairman's Advisory Board. For $2,500, an attendee gets a ticket and an annual membership on the Capitol Leadership Council. Two people can get into the reception, but not the roundtable, for $1,000. Checks should be made out to the N.C. Republican Party.

Pre-session fundraiser successful for Senate Republicans

The state’s Senate Republican Caucus had quite a haul at a fundraiser this week.

The pre-session shindig, held at former ambassador Jim Cain’s home in Raleigh on Tuesday night, collected about $100,000, organizers say.

State law restricts financial contributions to legislators when the General Assembly is in session. So, Tuesday night’s event came in just under the wire before the Wednesday session began.

Morning Memo: Circus returns to town, McCrory's big gaffe

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The circus returns to town as lawmakers start the legislative session at noon. The House and Senate calendars show no bills for consideration and no committees are scheduled to meet -- the first will meet Thursday, it appears. For the first day, the action will take place largely behind the scenes as lawmakers file bills for the session. In the House, each lawmaker can file 10 bills and there is no limit in the Senate. What will they emphasize this year?

Gov. Pat McCrory welcomed lawmakers back to Raleigh with a private breakfast at the mansion. The move is reminiscent of how former Gov. Jim Hunt would engage the legislature to successfully push his agenda. Will McCrory become his own chief lobbyist? The Republican remains mum about where he stands much of the GOP legislative agenda, so far.

McCRORY'S BIG 'GENDER STUDIES' GAFFE: More and more it's looking like McCrory's comments on higher education to national radio show host Bill Bennett amounted to a major gaffe. By the end of the day -- after his remarks about funding universities and liberal arts courses went viral and elicited a caustic reaction in the public sphere -- his press shop began tempering his language if not outright apologizing. “This was not meant to be a personal attack on UNC,” said spokeswoman Crystal Feldman. “Gov. McCrory did not mean to tarnish UNC’s reputation.”

***This is the Dome Morning Memo -- a daily source for the latests analysis and news in North Carolina politics. Click "Read More" for more. Updated at 10 a.m.***

Morning Memo: Tillis to face questions, Carolina Panthers want state money

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: House Speaker Thom Tillis will offer a preview of the legislative session this morning in a closely watched press conference. His Republican counterpart in the Senate, President Pro Tem Phil Berger, did the same earlier this month and how the two visions dovetail -- or don't -- may set the tone for this year's term.

Three questions for Tillis: 1. Where does the Republican speaker stand on taxes? Like Gov. Pat McCrory, Tillis has been careful not to stake a specific position in recent days but with the session upon us, his direction is important to the anticipated legislation and its progress. 2. Does he support the Carolina Panther's request for state money for upgrades to the private Bank of America Stadium and the city of Charlotte's efforts to raise the food tax to fund renovations? 3. His GOP lieutenants in the House appear willing to push ahead with unemployment benefit cuts despite a federal prohibition -- meaning 85,000 jobless people in North Carolina will lose their federal benefits. How does the GOP avoid looking callous in a time of great need?

***This is the Dome Morning Memo, good morning. One day until the legislative session starts in earnest. Read below for more N.C. political intelligence and big headlines. ***

Morning Memo: The poor dream too; legislature returns to town

COLUMNIST -- CAN'T BAN POOR FROM THE LOTTERY: You got any dreams? We want them, too. That’s what comedian Richard Pryor swears his wife’s attorney asked him when they showed up in divorce court. That’s also what State Rep. Paul Stam is saying to welfare recipients in North Carolina by proposing a measure that would prevent them from playing the lottery.

***This is the Dome Morning Memo -- a digest of the political headlines and upcoming news in North Carolina. Click below to read more. ***

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