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Civitas deletes story questioning cronyism in McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute removed his story from the conservative-leaning think tank website last week that was critical about "cronyism" in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration and hit hard at his chief-of-staff.

Francis De Luca's story (cached by Google here) criticized the Republican governor for failing to change "the culture of cronyism and insider dealing in Raleigh" by pointing to his appearance at the Sept. 5 inaugural Minority Enterprise Development celebration. De Luca wrote that the event featured two speakers of a group tied to the coalition behind the "Moral Monday" protests and was hosted by the N.C. Women and Business Enterprise Coordinators Network.

The story noted that network is a client of Capitol Access, a lobbying firm led by Yolanda Stith, the wife of McCrory's chief of staff, Thomas Stith. It went further to say that it "may be that Thursday was not the first time that Ms. Stith’s clients benefited from a cooperative governor," highlighting how her clients budget cuts received only small budget cuts in McCrory's proposed budget.

Republicans launch early TV ad against Congressman Mike McIntyre

Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre already is facing fire from the Republican group that tried unsuccessfully to oust him in the 2012 election. The National Republican Congressional Committee announced Wednesday it is airing a new TV ad criticizing the 7th District lawmaker for his recent budget vote.

The move comes days after the NRCC-backed candidate from 2012, former state Sen. David Rouzer, said he would challenge McIntyre in 2014. The Democrat was the only to win a targeted congressional race in North Carolina last year. See the ad script below.

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.***

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.***

Pat McCrory's campaign cleared in elections complaint

Pat McCrory's campaign did not violate campaign finance laws when it came to disclosing trips to the state by big GOP luminaries, a state investigation found.

Democrat Walter Dalton's campaign alleged that a flight taken by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley to a McCrory campaign event was not a corporate contribution. Donors Ralph and Linda Huff reimbursed the plan's owner for the flight, the State Board of Elections reported Thursday.

GOP campaign finance complaint against Dalton, Perdue dismissed

State officials dismissed a Republican campaign finance complaint filed days before the November election that alleged illegal collusion between Democrats Walter Dalton and Bev Perdue.

The state Republican Party said it identified 65 donors who received refunds from Perdue's campaign committee who later made contributions to Dalton, the Democratic candidate for governor. But in a letter dated Tuesday, the State Board of Elections said all 65 donations identified as suspect were legitimate.

"Our office found no campaign finance violations ... for these contributions and as such this matter is considered resolved," the letter states.

Outside spending more even this election, preliminary reports suggest

Spending by third-party groups in North Carolina legislative races appears to have been more even than in the previous election cycle, even as Republicans dominated individual and caucus fundraising, Scott Mooneyham at The Insider reports.

IRS documents and state campaign finance reports seem to indicate that the spending by the two major 527 groups in North Carolina -- Real Jobs NC, which backed Republican candidates, and Common Sense Matters, which backed Democratic candidates, spent similar amounts. Those reports show Real Jobs NC spending $812,605, compared to $773,641 for Common Sense Matters.

Morning Memo: McCrory gets campaign cash from indicted donor, Hudson on the rise

GOP GOV REPORTS CAMPAIGN CASH WELL AFTER ELECTION DAY: Pat McCrory won the governor's race Nov. 6 but campaign donors kept filling his coffers through the end of the year, according to new campaign finance reports. The Republican reported raising more than $42,000 after Election Day putting his total haul for the entire campaign at $12.3 million -- nearly three times as much as Democratic rival Walter Dalton, who raised $4.3 million.

McCRORY REPORTS DONATION FROM INDICTED DONOR:One more donation listed after the election: Trawick "Buzzy" Stubbs. He gave McCrory $1,000 in a check reported Nov. 27.

Stubbs was indicted in 2012 for his political donations to Gov. Bev Perdue in the 2008 race involving a plane he allowed the Democrat to use in the campaign. He is charged with obstruction of justice and causing the campaign to file false reports. After his indictment, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, then just a candidate, returned the $250 donation Stubbs gave his campaign. The case is still pending and Stubbs is challenging the charges.

This is the Dome Morning Memo, a political tipsheet covering North Carolina politics. Read more campaign finance exclusive and a news roundup below.

Walter Dalton spent $4.3 million in his losing bid for governor

Democrat Walter Dalton spent $4.3 million in his losing bid for governor, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

Dalton, who lost by 11 points, just couldn't match GOP rival Pat McCrory's spending. He raised $4.28 million and left only $12,192.60 in the bank, as of Dec. 31. (McCrory has yet to file his final report, but led Dalton 6-to-1 in campaign cash days ahead of the election.)

In the final two weeks, Dalton raised $385,000 and spent $641,000 -- decent numbers but not enough. He spent about a third of the money on media advertising in the final days but none of it moved the needle. He lost by about the same margin as polls indicated weeks ahead of time.

David Rouzer considering another Congressional bid that would start soon

The 2014 talk is starting and it's not just focused on which Republican will challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

Republican David Rouzer is looking at another run at U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre's seat in the 7th Congressional District. Rouzer lost by 650 votes in a prolonged recount in November, the closest race in the nation, he said. McIntyre was the only Democrat to win a highly contested seat that received national attention.

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