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Shaking the money tree

Senate Democrats are getting in on the fund raising action with an event scheduled for July 12, the evening before the legislature is scheduled to start a new session.

An invitation from the Senate Democratic caucus announces the event planned for state Democratic Party headquarters.

Prices: $250 for a ticket for two, up to $4,000.

Session eve fund raisers are a Raleigh tradition because legislators are back in town and donors tend to be around.

The legislature has planned for three sessions this year rather than one - the regular long session that just ended and two more focused sessions for redistricting (and voting bills and veto overrides) and constitutional amendments. That creates more opportunities to hit up contributors.

Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat who is the minority whip, said Democrats have no control over the schedule - Republicans set it up this way.

As for Democrats using the intersession for fund raisers, he said, "Our opponents have been busy raising money and we have to do what we can to try to keep up."

UPDATE: When the House Republican Caucus at Seaboard 18 Restaurant in Raleigh on Wednesday, it drew picketers and criticism from a watch dog group that it was cashing in from special interests during a legislative recess.

One of those critics,  Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said he was not thrilled about the Senate Democrats either, but he was not very critical either.

“I am not blaming legislators for raising money when they have the opportunity,” Hall said. “They are corrupting system that makes them focus on fund raising too much and too often.”

He said both Nesbitt and Stein supported public financing of elections, but were forced to play by the rules that exist.

“I criticized the Republican House leaders because of their claim that they were going to provide strong leadership to change what they termed pay to play culture,” Hall said. “That didn't get done.

“I'd like to see both parties exercise leadership so they don't have to rely so much on large donors and special interests,” Hall said.


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Neither party should

Neither party should fundraise during this short break between sessions. The protest of the GOP fundraiser was not just about "pay to play". It was primarily about the legislation Republicans have supported this session--cutting vital services, laying off teachers, disenfranchising voters, rolling back regulations that protect consumers and the environment while at the same time cutting corporate taxes and passing special provisions for corporate donors. The GOP is bending over backwards to cater to corporations while thousands of working folks are without jobs, without homes, and without hope. We need elected officials who look out for the "little guy" not the fat cats and CEOs.

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