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Morning Memo: Tillis headed to D.C. fundraisers

With the legislative session ended, House Speaker Thom Tillis can focus on raising money for his U.S. Senate campaign. And today he does just that with back-to-back fundraisers at the homes of some well-connected D.C. lobbyists. Meanwhile Reid Wilson, editor of the National Journal Hotline, a campaign tipsheet, writes about "The Trouble with Tillis" and points out that he may not be the candidate the Republicans need to beat Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. Tillis' trouble? The super PAC funded by donors he nominated — and persuaded House members — to elect to the UNC board. Wilson also says the abortion and voting bills lawmakers passed this year will give Hagan valuable opportunities. Good Tuesday morning and welcome to Dome's Morning Memo.

Thom Tillis skips session to attend U.S. Senate fundraisers in Washington

UPDATED: As the N.C. House debated a sweeping tax bill and a contentious gun resolution Wednesday, Speaker Thom Tillis spent the day raising money in Washington for his U.S. Senate bid.

The Cornelius Republican attended at fundraiser at 11 a.m., the same time session started, hosted by two lobbyists at the offices of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, according to an invite. The meet-and-greet invite included information about donations up to the maximum limit of $2,600.

Perdue raising money in Raleigh

Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue is planning to hold a high-dollar fund raiser at the Raleigh home of Bryan and Carson Holding Brice on June 23. Donations range from $250 to $4,000.

Carson Brice is a member of the Raleigh banking family that controls First Citizens and is chairman of the Raleigh's Contemporary Art Museum.

While Perdue has not formally announced her re-election plans, she has begun her fund raising for what is expected to be a difficult effort to retain her seat next year. Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who she defeated in 2008, is already actively campaigning across the state.

As SEANC prepares to tee-off, Eudy swings back

The head of the State Employees Association of N.C. is planning a news conference Thursday to attack a fundraiser for Senate Democrats hosted by Capstrat co-owner Ken Eudy as an example of "pay to play."

Eudy, who knows a thing or two about communication, fired a blast himself.

"It's pathetic and defamatory," Eudy said of allegations by SEANC head Dana Cope that a fundraiser at Eudy's home is connected to a $375,000 contract his agency won in April with the N.C. State Ports Authority. "I don't blame SEANC leaders for trying to change the subject. They deserve 'As' for getting in the newspaper and on TV. They deserve 'Fs' for getting better pay, benefits and working conditions for state employees."

Dome previously told you about the fundraiser, scheduled for next week at the home of Eudy and his wife. Senate leader Marc Basnight, Majority Leader Martin Nesbitt, Raleigh Sens. Josh Stein and Dan Blue are billed to attend along with former Gov. Jim Hunt.

A database of state contracts shows that Capstrat has been awarded three, including a $13.5 million gig running a campaign to curb tobacco use among teens.

"What I would hope is there wouldn't be this McCarthy-esque suggestion and innuendo that because I personally have made a contribution to some elected official who is 10 steps away from a decision on a state contract that something smells bad," Eudy said.

Cope's news release Wednesday mentioned that the fundraiser would not have been permitted under a provision cut from an ethics bill during the last legislative session. The provision would have placed fundraising restrictions on contractors with state business.

Eudy said he would have no problem with such a provision becoming law.

UPDATE: Nesbitt said he sees no problem with the fundraiser.

"We can't get out here and start telling people they can't participate in the political process," he said. "What the Supreme Court has said is that is free speech. You can't deny someone the right to participate in politics simply because they do business with the state."

Victim's race a big factor in death penalty

JUSTICE NOT BLIND? Someone accused of killing a white person in North Carolina is nearly three times as likely to get the death penalty than someone accused of killing a black person, according to a study released Thursday by two researchers who looked at death sentences over a 28-year period. (N&O)

VEEP THOUGHTS: Vice President Joe Biden told those attending a Democratic fundraiser Thursday that his party's midterm election prospects would brighten when voters realize the stark differences between the two parties. (N&O)

BACK ON HIS FEET: A trooper who lost his job last year after having a drunken sexual encounter with another trooper's wife is back on the state payroll, this time as an investigator for the lottery. (N&O)

Biden will visit state today for fundraiser

BIG FREAKIN' VISIT: Vice President Joe Biden will be in the state briefly this afternoon for a Democratic fundraiser. (AP)

TAKING A LOOK: North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, responding to news reports about an NCAA investigation of the football team at UNC-Chapel Hill, launched an investigation Wednesday into possible improprieties by sports agents in the state. (N&O)

BIG BILL: Days before a Democratic selection panel checks out Charlotte as a site for their party's 2012 national convention, local organizers said "pursuit costs" could top $125,000. (Charlotte Observer)

OUR PHONE, THEIR TEXTS: A Wake County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that personal text messages sent by a state Highway Patrol employee from her personal phone to her immediate supervisor on his state-issued BlackBerry are not public records. (N&O)

PAYMENT PLAN: In a record setting year for ticket sales, the lottery collected more than $1 million from debtors who won lottery prizes. (N&O)

Geddings set free

HE'S OUT: A judge has set former lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings free after the "honest services" law he was convicted on has been struck down. (N&O)

BUDGET VOTE TODAY: The House and Senate are expected to adopt a budget Wednesday that spares higher education but cuts thousands out of in-home care services and hits road mantenance. (N&O)

FUNDRAISING FLAP: Democrats attended a fundraiser with lots of lobbyists on the guest list (N&O)

Burr fundraiser held at D.C. lobbying firm office

Republican Sen. Richard Burr held a fundraising breakfast Thursday morning at the offices of McBee Strategic Consulting, a major D.C. lobbying firm, Rob Christensen reports.

The event, which featured Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, cost $1,000 to $2,000 for political action committees and $500 to $1,000 for individuals, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which supports greater transparency in government.

McBee made $3.1 million in lobbying fees last year, according to OpenSecrets.org. Among its clients are the American Trucking Association, American Airlines, BrightSource Energy, Corrections Corp of America, Dimensions4 Inc., General Electric Transportation, Google Inc, Honeywell, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Babcock & Wilcox and Time Warner Cable.

Burr to spend election night in Washington

How worried is Sen. Richard Burr about his primary?

Well, his election night party will be held at a Washington (that's D.C., not N.C.) fundraiser. The "Max-out" dinner is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Trattoria Alberto's. The idea, according to an announcement for the event, is to get contributors to max out before the primary season ends. The event features special guest Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican. 

Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, holds a comfortable lead in the polls over his three primary challengers. Of course Burr spending election night in Washington and not North Carolina is likely to end up as a talking point from whomever emerges from the Democratic primary. 

UPDATE: A Burr spokeswoman says Burr will be in Washington because the Senate is in session. 

Springsteen, McHenry and the K Street band

U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, a conservative Republican member of Congress, did a little fundraising from a luxury skybox above a Bruce Springsteen concert in Washington last year.

Springsteen campaigned for President Barack Obama and has been a champion for Democratic causes. His songs rarely feature stories about members of Congress raising cash by renting skyboxes from industries they regulate.

But that's just what happened at two of Springsteen's Washington concerts last year, ProPublica and the Washington Post reported.

McHenry rented his skybox from an association of federal credit unions. The Cherryville Republican is a member of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit subcommittee.

UPDATE: McHenry spokesman Josh Kahn said the fundraiser was hosted by the House Conservatives Fund, a leadership PAC that that McHenry leads. The PAC paid full market price for the luxury box, Kahn said.

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