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Morning Memo: Protests at mansion draw 200, GOP senator says 'Let 'em yell'

'MORAL MONDAY' RALLY DRAWS ABOUT 200: Nearly 200 demonstrators were part of the procession that moved slowly from the First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh to the Executive Mansion. The event, touted as the 18th “Moral Monday,” was led by Youth and College NAACP groups from across North Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory was attending a Republic Governors Association meeting in Charleston, S.C., his staff told the media, and not at the Blount Street mansion while the young and old walked the perimeter of the property. “We’re going to make one circle around the governor’s mansion to let him know we plan to go all around this state,” the Rev. William Barber II, head of the state NAACP, told the demonstrators,

On Monday, it was the youth doing most of the rallying, though. “Just because the governor is gone doesn’t mean the issue is gone,” said Isaiah Daniels, a Shaw University student at the event. Read more here.

***Read a firebrand GOP response to the Democrats and get more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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 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.***

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.

Morning Memo: 'Gov. Pay Raise', Sen. Hartsell face tough questions

GOV. PAY RAISE: The salary hikes Gov. Pay McCrory gave to his cabinet are stricking a chord. From N&O columnist Barry Saunders: If you saw our new governor live or on television banging away on a drum set with a band at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre last week, you already know Ringo has nothing to worry about.

For further evidence that the governor is tone deaf, all you had to do was read the newspaper the next day and see that Gov. Pat, henceforth known as Gov. Pay Raise, McCrory bestowed sizable raises on the people closest to him while sprinkling a pittance upon those outside his inner circle – you know, the ones who do the actual work.

You are reading the Dome Morning Memo, an analysis of the day's political headlines. Read much more below. Thanks.

AHEAD THIS WEEK: The UNC system committee considering a new five-year plan meets Monday. The NAACP holds is own legislative briefing -- sure to be much different from the one Republicans will hold -- Tuesday to talk about poverty and economic justice.

Perdue picks replacement for Sewell

Gov. Bev Perdue picked a Jacksonville auto dealer to replace Board of Transportation member Louis Sewell Jr.

Michael K. Alford is Perdue’s 11th pick for a vacant seat on the state board, which oversees policy for the N.C. Department of Transportation, Bruce Siceloff reports on his Crosstown Traffic blog.

After Alford's name is reviewed by members of a legislative oversight committee, he is expected to take an at-large seat dedicated to rural transportation needs.

He will succeed Sewell, a developer and part-owner of the Golden Corral restaurants, who resigned in 2008 after The News & Observer reported that he had steered DOT money to road projects near commercial property he or his son owned.

Sewell, a registered Republican, was a major fundraiser for Perdue, a Democrat, as well as former Democratic Gov. Mike Easley

State election records show that Alford, a registered Democrat and president of Marine Chevrolet, has contributed to a number of Democratic and Republican political campaigns. He gave $4,000 to the campaign of Perdue in 2008, and $2,000 to Easley in 2000.

Basnight supports fundraiser for DOT head

Senate leader Marc Basnight said he has told Gov.-elect Beverly Perdue that Transportation Board member Lanny Wilson would be a good pick for transportation secretary.

Wilson would be no stranger to Perdue. He is one of a handful of board members who were also fundraisers for her gubernatorial campaign. Two other transportation board members who raised money for Perdue resigned during the campaign. Thomas Betts pressured a city official to raise money for Perdue and Louis Sewell steered roadwork to commercial properties in Jacksonville that he or his son co-owned.

Perdue pledged to use executive orders to take much of the specific road-building decisions away from transportation board members, who are appointed by the governor.

Basnight said that Wilson's fundraising activities wouldn't raise any problems with him running the transportation department.

"I wish she would appoint him. I asked her to," Basnight told reporters Thursday. "I think Lanny would be outstanding.

"He never wants anything for himself. Never has. He's a fundraiser because he cares. And there's not a governor in this country that I'm aware of who will not appoint people who raise money for them," Basnight said. "I would not shy from it. Now she may well do that. She never did listen to me."

Efforts to reach Wilson Thursday afternoon failed. A message to a Perdue spokesman was not immediately returned.

More reasons for Basnight's support and why he wouldn't change the board after the jump.

McCrory: Perdue should return contributions

Pat McCrory's gubernatorial campaign today called upon Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue to return campaign contributions tied to N.C. Board of Transportation member Louis W. Sewell Jr. and his son, Billy.

The News & Observer reported Sunday that Sewell had steered transportation money to an intersection and a road where he and his son have financial interests, Dan Kane reports.

"Lt. Gov. Perdue has a long history of fundraising impropriety," said McCrory Campaign Manager Richard Hudson in a news release. "Whether it is funds from the nursing home industry she had to return, funds from a disgraced DOT board member she had to return, the series of SBI investigations into her fundraising practices, two of her fundraisers involved in a DENR bribery case, or the recent allegations about the Sewells, she has an ethical cloud hanging over her head."

Hudson said state election reports showed the Sewell family had contributed $37,500 to Perdue's campaigns over the past eight years. Contributions raised by Louis and Billy Sewell should be returned as well, Hudson said.

Reached Monday afternoon, McCrory said that Sewell's actions highlight the need to ban fundraisers from the boards that run transportation and universities and the ABC Commission.

"I want to take the politics out of board work so there's not an appearance of a conflict of interest,' McCrory said.

Sewell has said he steered roughly $375,000 in public money to the projects in his hometown of Jacksonville to help a clogged, accident-prone intersection and to patch up a road where an elementary school opened. He said he was not seeking to aid adjacent properties he co-owned or his son co-owned.

Board members are required to stay away from road projects that might directly benefit them. Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett has asked for an ethics investigation.

Louis Sewell was a key fundraiser for Democrat Gov. Mike Easley, who concurred with Tippett for the need of an ethics probe. Perdue, a New Bern Democrat, has identified Sewell as a fundraiser. Her campaign declined to comment Monday.

Previously: Dome checks out claims about fundraising and Perdue.

Update: The post has been updated to include additional information.

Moore: Spitzer downfall 'sad'

Richard Moore will not be sending Eliot Spitzer's donations back.

At a press conference today, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate was asked if he would return the $4,000 from the former New York governor and his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer.

He responded by noting that his rival, Beverly Perdue, has not returned contributions from former Board of Transportation member Thomas Betts.

"I would love to talk about returning campaign contributions when the lieutenant governor returns all of the DOT bundling money that she's been taking," he said.

He was then asked about his thoughts on Spitzer, who once held a fundraiser for him and had praised Moore at an event in Asheville.

"I feel very sad for his family," he said. "I think most of you know that Silda has a lot of connections to North Carolina as a native and a graduate of Meredith. I really feel for she and their three daughters. It's a sad time."

Perdue calls disclosure bill 'a starting point'

Beverly Perdue continues to be vague when it comes to explaining what she meant by having "full disclosure" of fundraising activity for appointees to the Board of Transportation in a reform bill she championed 10 years ago.

Here's the latest explanation — out today — from the Democratic gubernatorial candidate's spokesman, David Kochman:

"As she said at the time and last week, that bill was just a starting point. There wasn’t much precedent in North Carolina for establishing this kind of special reporting requirements for an appointed body, so there certainly were some question marks about all of its ramifications, especially how far the law could go. Even with the (Attorney General's) interpretation, it was a first step forward and the bill was stronger than the version that passed the Republican House and came to the Senate. Now it's clearly time for the state to enact broader campaign finance reforms." 

That legal interpretation found that the reform law only required disclosure if a fundraiser personally handled contributions from donors, Dan Kane reports. Those who hold or sponsor fundraisers, or personally contact people to make contributions, would not have to disclose those activities.

Two of Gov. Mike Easley's appointees to the board, who either held receptions or contacted contributors, later said they were not fundraisers. One is now raising money for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Moore, while the other is a Perdue fundraiser.

Perdue has yet to say if the attorney general's interpretation represents what she intended, something more, or something less.

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