#ncga: Welcome to the era of ‘grass-topping’

moneycountIn DC, there is an expression called ”astro-turfing.”  That is a slang term used to describe the manufacturing of the illusion of  support for, or opposition to, a politician or policy.  

In Raleigh, a similar activity called ”grass-topping” is gaining in popularity among the Jones Street crowd.  This is how my sources in and around the legislative building explain it to us:

Political Consultant A forms a special interest group called ”Citizens For (or Against) X.”   Consultant A then turns to some of his or her clients currently serving in the legislature to introduce bills on both sides of Issue X.  Those bills seem to come out of nowhere — not fitting in real well with the current debate — and have a snowball’s chance in Hades of passing.  

But that doesn’t matter to Consultant A or “Citizens For (Or Against) X.”  They’ve already started beating the bushes — identifying people with deep pockets who have an interest in the bills dealing with Issue X. Consultant A will start collecting money ostensibly to pay for mailings and advertising regarding Issue X.  (Letters for and against Issue X will start magically popping up in local newspapers. You may even see a conveniently-timed, um, ”impromptu” street protest regarding the issue.)  He or she will then go back to all of the contributors asking for MORE money — citing a need to do polling and to run more ads.  angry boy

The suckers get milked for all they can, and the bills that got the whole ruckus started disappear into one of the multitude of black holes populating the legislative building, never to be seen again (at least for THIS session).

A number of political consultants tied to the current political majority are reportedly already bragging around town about what a great method this is for sustaining cash flow in an off-year with no big elections to run.

My sources on Jones Street are all fingering certain bills in the House and Senate right now — dealing with solar energy tax credits and incentives — as strong possibilities for ”grass-topping.”

They’ve apparently been doing something like this in DC for years.  Peter Schweizer detailed it in his great book ‘Extortion,” which also turned into a segment on ”60 Minutes.’

3 thoughts on “#ncga: Welcome to the era of ‘grass-topping’

  1. Solar energy and wind energy are huge ripoffs for both the taxpayer and the electric customer, and a boondoggle that only benefits the special interests. Our GOP legislature needs to do the right thing, follow the NCGOP platform, and repeal the Renewable Energy Mandate that the Democrats imposed while they were in control.

  2. This sleazy practice reminds me of the corrupt old days of the Richard Morgan – Jim Black era.

    An example of how things went then is how one of Morgan’s lieutenants used his committee chairmanship to help out his old College Republican protege who was trying to get established as a political consultant. The political consultant also registered as a lobbyist. The Morganite committee chairman would hold up bills that were in his committee and not set them for hearing. When supporters of the bill inquired what could be done to get them to move, the chairman told them to hire his old College Republican chum the consultant / lobbyist as their lobbyist. After that occurred the bill would then get its hearing.

    The Morganite committee chairman was taken out in a Republican primary and is now out of politics. The consultant is still around in that business, and I wonder if he is involved in the ”grass topping”.

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