Some lobbyists recently received an email from the reelection campaign of House Speaker Thom Tillis asking for money. State law prohibits lawmakers from soliciting lobbyists for campaign contributions. Bob Hall, with Democracy North Carolina, has chimed in on the episode quite passionately:
Despite campaign promises to stamp out “pay to play” politics in Raleigh, House Speaker Thom Tillis is in the middle of what can only be called a shakedown of lobbyists for campaign cash. His political director sent an email to many lobbyists with a clear message: get your PAC to send us a check by our September deadline or let me know how much you’ll pay soon – and we expect the check to be a big one! Laura Leslie of WRAL-TV received a copy of the email and put the story on the news, with comments from Democracy North Carolina and others. Democratic heavyweights once used similar tactics to shake down lobbyists, and one notable Republican candidate still campaigns like they’re the ones in charge of a pay-to-play culture. Unfortunately, the new GOP leaders running the General Assembly are acting too much like the old political bosses.
Hall is an unapologetic leftie. But give him some credit — he nipped at the heels of former Speaker (now ex-con) Jim Black rather aggressively.
WRAL’s Laura Leslie chimed in on the matter as well. She pointed out that Democrats Charles Graham and Garland Pierce did something quite similar to what Tillis did. Leslie points out that it is illegal under state law to solicit lobbyists, but NOT the PACs they represent.
In Leslie’s report, Hall makes an excellent point: This practice is a lot like saying “Here’s your invoice for doing business with the state of North Carolina.”
I’ve seen some conservative blogs already taking Hall and Leslie to task for daring to report on this. Some folks on the right feel like they have to play defense for the GOP. It’s not about red vs blue or Democrat vs. Republican. It’s about right vs. wrong. It’s about freedom vs. government tyranny.
Some people want to blame the growth of lobbying for this type of thing. A simple method for cutting down on the need for lobbying? Cut down on the influence of government. The fewer things government has its tentacles wrapped around, the less need there is for lobbyists.