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Morning Memo: McCrory's taxing pledge; Tillis super PAC money questioned

TAX BILL NOW PUTS FOCUS ON McCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory pledge in his campaign to make any tax overhaul revenue neutral. It was the only specific detail he offered and came under pressure from Democratic candidate Walter Dalton who warned such a tax bill, if not revenue neutral, could lead to huge cuts in government spending on popular services.

With legislative approval Wednesday, the two-billion tax bill goes to the governor. Will he meet his pledge, one he repeated just months ago in his State of the State address? It depends. The governor's office called the bill fiscally responsible and essentially revenue-neutral in the first year at about $35 million in less revenue. From there, the bill is nowhere close to bringing in as much state revenue as projected. And McCrory is moving the goalposts and redefining what he meant. (Read below to see how the governor's office is positioning itself.)

TILLIS SUPER PAC GETS BIG CHECKS FROM 3 HE HELPED PUT ON UNC BOARD: A super PAC for House Speaker Thom Tillis recently raised $105,000 from five donors for his U.S. Senate race, including $70,000 from three men the House appointed to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The contributions raise more questions about whether donations to the Republican candidate’s bid are connected to legislation in the chamber he controls. They also highlight Tillis’ ability to raise money when other lawmakers are limited in soliciting campaign contributions. W.G. Champion Mitchell said his $25,000 contribution had nothing to do with his recent appointment to the university’s governing board. “I want to see him be our next senator,” Mitchell said. “That is the answer.” Read more here.

***Get a full roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Film highlights role of Koch money in politics

Working Films, a Wilmington nonprofit that connects filmmakers with activists, will host a free film screening of the documentary “Citizen Koch” 4 p.m. on June 30 at The Full Frame Theater.

Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal highlight the Kochs’ influence on politics in Wisconsin, following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. They claim the ruling has made it easier for interest groups to buy elections, according to the film’s website.

”The film talks about how the Kochs bought the political process, and we see similarities between that and what Art Pope has done with donations to politicians in North Carolina,” said Andy Myers, the campaign coordinator for Working Films.

Morning Memo: N.C. Realtors launch new effort against tax plan

REALTORS TO LAUNCH NEW TV CAMPAIGN AGAINST TAX PLAN: The N.C. Realtors Association is preparing to launch a second, big-dollar campaign to challenge the N.C. Senate's tax overhaul efforts in coming days. The new TV ad campaign says the Senate tax plan to repeal the state deduction for mortgage interest will hurt middle class families. The group's strategist Chris Sinclair said the TV buy is in the "hundreds of thousands" and will run for three weeks. The realtors began the campaign a month ago with TV and online ads and the total cost is likely to approach $1million, he said. "The realtors believe this is a watershed moment for homeowners," Sinclair said.

McCRORY TO FETE BIG CAMPAIGN DONOR: Gov. Pat McCrory lists one public event on his schedule Friday: a retirement party for William "Bill" Shumaker, the CEO at Kewaunee Scientific. Shumaker and his wife donated $11,000 to McCrory's campaign in the 2012 cycle and another $2,000 in his losing 2008 bid, according to campaign finance reports. McCrory resigned from Kewaunee's board of directors on Jan. 5, the day he was sworn in as governor. The company paid him $53,168 in total compensation in the year that ended April 2012, federal corporate records show.

***Happy Friday and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a North Carolina political news tipsheet. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com.***

Morning Memo: Gift ban repeal dead, Hahn investigation seeks motive

TILLIS SAYS LOBBYIST GIFT BAN WILL REMAIN INTACT: House Speaker Thom Tillis took to Twitter this week to declare Republican Robert Brawley's bill to lift the ban on lobbyists giving lawmakers gifts is dead. "Benny, does the fact that the bill is dead give you any idea?" @thomtillis wrote. The speaker's office confirmed the 10:10 p.m. Tuesday tweet was legit. Tillis addressed the response to Benjamin Ray, an operative at the N.C. Democratic Party pushing Tillis on the issue and tying it to his office's controversial past with lobbyists and the fact the bill came from one of his committee chairman.

MOTIVE FOR JAMIE HAHN'S STABBING TURNS TO CAMPAIGN MONEY: As the Triangle mourned slain political strategist Jamie Hahn on Wednesday, attention turned to whether the man who police say stabbed her had made questionable campaign finance reports while working for Hahn’s firm. More on the story below.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- click below for much, much more from a busy day in N.C. politics. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. ***

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.***

Carter Wrenn on Art Pope & "pay to play"

Here's Carter Wrenn's take on the crowning of Art Pope as Gov.-elect Pat McCrory's budget chief. This from Friday's post in the Talking About Politics blog he shares with Gary Pearce:

McCrory to hold Raleigh fundraiser

Pat McCrory will host a fundraiser in Raleigh Wednesday.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate will hold a "business casual" event at the law offices of former Raleigh City Councilman Kieran Shanahan from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The fundraiser is being hosted by Shanahan and his wife, Tina; former Councilman Tommy Craven and his wife, Nancy, and Jamie and Matt Martin.

Other hosts include Councilman Philip Isley, developer Gregg Sandreuter, Republican donor Art Pope, attorney Tom Ellis and UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Arch Allen, according to a copy of an invitation received by Dome.

Tickets to the event range from $30 for a guest to $1,000 for a host.

Orr spent $225,000 in 2007

Bob Orr spent $225,600 in 2007.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate's biggest expense was a $5,000-per-month contract with Raleigh fundraising consultant E. Whitney Jones and related expenses. In all, he paid her $59,769, according to campaign finance reports.

He also spent $10,652 on cell phones, landlines and Internet access.

Rent was another major expense. For much of the year, Orr rented a suite in the office building at 225 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. The building is owned by Variety Realty LLC, which is registered to conservative philanthropist Art Pope. 

But Orr and other tenants had to leave after Campbell University announced plans to move its law school to the building in early October. He moved to the upper floor of the Stratas & Weathers building near Raleigh's Five Points neighborhood.

His monthly rent went from $382.71 to $2,000. 

Campaign manager Dave Woolf said that rent went up because the office nearly quadrupled in size to around 2,100 square feet and now has six employees plus interns. He said the old office was temporary.

"It was virtually empty and we were just given some space to park in there," he said.

Orr raised $227,000 by the end of 2007

Bob Orr raised $227,873 by the end of 2007.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate raised $217,153 from large donors, including Raleigh attorney Gene Boyce, Square One Bank CEO Richard Casey and conservative philanthropist Art Pope.

He raised $3,620 from donors who gave less than $50, $1,500 from the Embarq and Coca-Cola PACs and $600 from the campaigns of state Rep. Carolyn Justus and former Wake County Commissioner Phil Jeffreys, according to a campaign finance report filed last week.

In addition, he loaned his campaign $5,000.

At the same time, Orr spent $225,660 on rent, staff salaries, gas, phone bills and fundraising letters.

That left him with $2,212 in cash on hand.

Orr's fundraising

Bob Orr has raised more than $100,000 since January.

But he's also spent much of it on consulting fees and staff salaries, according to his most recent campaign finance report on the State Board of Elections Web site.

In his fundraising, the former Supreme Court justice has tapped a number of lawyers, including former Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake, UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Ronald Link and prominent Cary attorney Brent Barringer.

Former state legislator Art Pope, who helped start the advocacy group where Orr used to work, gave $2,000, and his wife, Katherine, gave $3,000.

But Orr has also spent $79,500, including $25,000 to a Raleigh firm owned by E. Whitney Jones for advice on fundraising and $12,800 to Keyes Management of Asheboro.

That left him with $27,726 on hand at the end of the June reporting period.

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