Wednesday, April 24, 2013

McCrony Capitalism

North Carolina's prohibition against corporate political contributions to state candidates are abundantly clear, "No candidate, political committee, political party, or treasurer shall accept any contribution made by any corporation, foreign or domestic, regardless of whether such corporation does business in the State of North Carolina, or made by any business entity, labor union, professional association, or insurance company."

Nevertheless, as much as $235,000 in funds from an electronic sweepstakes software company, International Internet Technologies, may have made its way into the 2012 NC state elections, including into donations that were mailed and hand-delivered by the lobbying firm that employed then-candidate McCrory and that included the business card of Senate majority leader Phil Berger's former deputy chief of staff.

These are the same funds that are tied to the indicted sweepstakes operator, Chase Burns, who is alleged to have participated in running a veterans charity as a means of hiding sweepstakes profits from the the IRS.

Despite Burns' large contributions and his enlistment of the lobbying firm that employed McCrory, the governor has denied meeting with him or other electronic sweepstakes lobbyists. However, the governor's spokesperson is now parsing that comment, saying "the governor was clearly referring to Chase Burns, Florida clients and no one else in his answers."

The Democratic chairman and ranking Republican member of the State Elections Board think that the matter should be investigated. Such an investigation could involve subpoenas and requirements to testify under oath. However, Republican-initiated legislation might conveniently knock them off the board.

Altogether, Gov. McCrory received over $82,000 in contributions from sweepstakes operators, including Burns; House Speaker Thom Tillis received over $87,000; and Senate Leader Phil Berger received $60,000. Despite this, the governor and legislative leaders don't indicate seeing any conflict of interest in fiddling with the State Elections Board.

Were the contributions illegally made? Were they illegally accepted? Were they illegally coordinated? If the governor didn't meet with Burns or other "Florida clients," which lobbyists or operators did he meet with and what did they discuss?

Don't look for the governor or his McCronies to provide answers or facilitate an investigation.
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