In 1995 — just as Jim Hunt was launching his unprecedented reelection campaign for a FOURTH term as NC governor — I broke a story about top Hunt aides and supporters reportedly shaking down prospective state employees and their families for campaign contributions.
The state House — then controlled by the GOP — saw an opportunity and launched investigative hearings. Hunt shook up his staff and sent out an order saying that NO ONE was to solicit campaign contributions from a state employee or his /her family. Can you say damage control, boys and girls?
What the hearings found was this: Someone would express interest in employment with the State of North Carolina. They would have to”apply” via a prominent supporter of the governor in their community. The applicant would reportedly be told that the “application fee” would be $2000 for the applicant, and $1000 per immediate family member, all payable to the governor’s campaign.
Mysteriously, the GOP-dominated House committee shut down the hearings into the matter. No explanation, whatsoever. I heard from back channels that some Republicans were getting nervous about the whole issue. It appeared that some Raleigh politicos on the GOP side may have been doing the SAME thing the Hunt team was being accused of.
The SEANC leadership is basically a puppet for the NC Democrat Party leadership. The rank-and-file membership — for the most part — is a different kind of animal. These folks work hard to support their families and — for the most part — abhor political nonsense, such as being shaken down by politicos for the privilege of working for the State of North Carolina.
If Pat McCrory and the NCGOP offered up serious proposals to protect state employees from political intimidation and shakedowns, they just might see an opening on the state employee front.
Shakedowns are a bipartisan problem with a bipartisan cast of culprits. State employees are expected to do their jobs and serve taxpayers in the same manner — regardless of the governor’s party affiliation or the party in power on Jones Street.
The SEANC is not endorsing in the Democrat Party primary for NC Governor. There’s an opening and an opportunity this year. Pat McCrory is already the front runner, with a significant lead. What is there to lose for McCrory and the NCGOP?