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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.

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.

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.

Morning Roundup: The N.C. political year in review

While North Carolina experienced a predicted blockbuster political year in 2012, the details weren't as anticipated by some.

Charlotte hosted North Carolina's first-ever major party national convention. A proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in North Carolina passed by a whopping 22 percentage points. And although it wasn't shocking that former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory was elected governor, the ease of his victory was surprising, as was his Democratic rival - Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, not Gov. Beverly Perdue. Read AP's political year in review here.

More political headlines below:

--North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which has spent nearly $1 billion to clean up polluted waters and protect untainted ones, will face a dicey future as legislators convene in January.

--The N.C. House’s new Republican majority whip believes he has the votes to stop North Carolina’s green-energy mandate – the first in the Southeast when it was enacted in 2007 – in its tracks. Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County views the mandate as the government unfairly “picking winners and losers” in the marketplace. As chairman of the Public Utilities committee, Hager would like to freeze it at the current 3 percent level.

Pat McCrory's election reflects single-party trend

Bloomberg News took note of Gov.-elect Pat McCrory in a story today that notes big question facing the Republican: “The big questions now are how far to the right will the Republicans in power go, and will he go with them," political expert Michael Bitzer told the news service.

As the article noted: "The 2012 election produced the most states with single- party governments since 1952, reflecting growing polarization, according to a tally on the National Conference of State Legislatures website. Only 12 have divided governments, while Nebraska’s single-house legislature is nonpartisan. Fourteen have Democratic governors and Democratic majorities in their legislatures, while 23 are unified Republican."

Read the full piece here.

Morning Roundup: McCrory guarded about his stance on healthcare exchanges

Gov.-elect Pat McCrory remains guarded about what he intends to do after Gov. Bev Perdue's decision to set up a state-federal health exchange. In a statement Thursday, he said Perdue's decision gives him flexibility. Other Republican leaders blasted Perdue's decision. 

McCrory said he would talk to other Republican governors Friday. His campaign buddy S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley rejected a state exchange Thursday. More details here.

More political headlines:

--Erskine Bowles is reportedly saying -- again -- he would turn down any offer to become the next U.S. Treasury secretary, according to at least two media reports Thursday.

Chris Christie says McCrory win is a silver lining to election

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie described Pat McCrory's victory as a silver lining to last week's election.

From The Record: “The only bit of good news for the Republican Party on Tuesday night was provided by the governors,” Christie told the newspaper Monday. “We didn’t lose any incumbents, any incumbent governors and we added Pat McCrory in North Carolina – first time in 24 years North Carolina has had a Republican governor. So we’re not at 30 out of 50, that’s the highest for either party in a very long time. So I’m really pleased that Pat won.”

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