#ncga: A bail-bond backtrack

legisDuring the last session, there was quite a hubbub over legislation that critics say appeared to directly benefit the family of a legislator close to then-speaker Thom Tillis. Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) and his family have been in the bail bond business across four North  Carolina counties (Anson, Richmond, Montgomery, and Stanly) for some time.  Burr’s father was elected president of the North Carolina Bail Agents Association, which has been overseeing the training and licensing of bail bond agents. .  Legislation was pushed through the House that critics said appeared to benefit Burr’s family — through his father’s position with the association.

We talked with Rep. Burr about this case.  He told us his father was elected president of the Bail Agents Association AFTER the legislation in question moved through the House. The Republican legislator told us his father did not seek a second term, and is no longer part of the association’s volunteer board. He said the association is a non-profit, with members from across the state,  that is not controlled or owned by any one person or family.  Burr emphasized this point with me: monopoly

“I believe using your political office for personal financial gain is criminal.”

This whole episode became a centerpiece to the high-profile squabble between then-Rep. Robert Brawley (R-Iredell) and Tillis.  Brawley ended up losing his committee chairmanship, and his May 2014 primary to a Tillis-recruited opponent.

A judge ended up ruling that the bail bond legislation was, indeed, a monopoly — providing some vindication for Brawley:

A North Carolina appeals court says a state law created an unconstitutional monopoly by allowing only one trade group to train bail bond agents.

The unanimous ruling Tuesday by a state Court of Appeals panel supports a Wake County judge, who last year blocked the law from being carried out. The North Carolina Bail Agents Association and a new rival called the North Carolina Bail Academy had been competing to provide the required training until legislators passed the law recognizing only the association.

Republican Rep. Robert Brawley of Iredell County this year criticized the law, saying it benefited the family of state Rep. Justin Burr. The Stanly County Republican is a bail bondsman whose father is president of the nonprofit association. Justin Burr excused himself from voting on the law.[…] 

Now comes legislation in the House sponsored by Rep. Jason Saine (R) and Robert Reives (D) which – -among other things — opens up bail bondsmen training to include entities other than the North Carolina Bail Agents Association.

4 thoughts on “#ncga: A bail-bond backtrack

  1. This is not only the story that won’t go away, it’s the story that SHOULDN’T go away. The story ending will pretty much tell the tale of this session’s attitude and intent (and a possible indicator of moral compass readings). Are we still under the iron fist leadership that looks out for its’ own? Or can we expect some fair play and correction?

    Sharp eye, Brant! You are on top of your game on what’s cooking on Jones Street. I’m going to throw a few facts your way to enhance your piece here.

    This story drew so much heat on folks like Jerry Dockham, Tom Apadaca, Justin Burr, and others it was amazing. The fallout nearly cost Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin his re-election despite a 10-1 war chest advantage. Even John Hood and others at Civitas recognized how wrong and rotten S738 was when it took place. That bill, with its unannounced gutting switcheroo, careful stealth steering, and evening vote just prior to July 4th adjournment became the virtual ‘poster child’ for sleazy backroom Jones street shenanigans.

    With all the reviews, motions, supersedeas, etc, by my count 13 different judges have seen this case and ALL agreed that it was unconstitutional. Yes Brant, the Court of Appeals did agree 3-0 and what you didn’t mention is that near the end of August, our state’s Supreme Court refused to overturn the Appeals court and refused to hear it. The un-lawyerly public when told of the raw facts KNOWS it stunk.

    Everybody but the scoundrels involved acknowledged this was a crooked deal. Dan Way’s article revealed more incestuousness among the co-conspirators than most media coverage here:

    but the plot was even thicker. Near the end of his article you can see the curious effect of microphone induced amnesia by our honorable elected officials.

    Robert Brawley pretty much singlehandedly tried to correct the law twice without drawing bad press on his party. He was made an example of what becomes of a man who tries to do the right thing if doing so doesn’t square with the party line. He tried an amendment, and it was circumvented by cowards his own party. So, so much for fixing it quietly.

    Since that time the Goliath has still refused to admit the obvious and will not mediate or settle with David. Goliath has been paying megabucks to the defacto Republican Party attorney Phil Strach to drag out the case. In doing so, Goliath has through its protracted stubborn legal battle presumably burned through a couple of hundred thousand dollars of its members’ money — even having to sell its HQ building which it owned free and clear, to get 200 more thousand to try to inflict its will and influence.

    Also since that time, David has stood firm in its conviction, has not taken money from anyone, and has not paid off any legislators either.

    Several individuals involved in the scandal have privately acknowledged how wrong and sinister it was. It is my understanding that Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin has expressed his desire that things be settled, that the constitutionality be corrected, and this matter put to rest. Several legislators have concurred. Maybe this session, the timing is right to right some wrongs. We will see.

    Who are/were the winners? Well, depends. The lawyers got theirs. The legislators got paid, but got a lot of bad press. Goliath is still fighting but has hemorrhaged terribly.

    David is still fighting the good fight, ironically framing the justice system as working at a time when the courts are under fire. And Brawley….he lost his re-election by 100 votes. But did he really lose? Not really…he has something money and power and privilege can never buy…dignity and respect.

    Let’s see who else has some. Keep your eye on the H641 votes.

    1. It is disgraceful what the establishment did to Brawley, who is a great conservative and a great Republican. The GOP needs more Robert Brawleys and fewer Justin Burrs and Thom Tillises. We also have to remember that the little slimeball establishment consultant Dee Stewart was the one sending out all those misleading attack postcards in the primary against Brawley.

  2. By the way….the cowards mentioned above were played by: Justin Burr aka. “Lil’ Lord Corduroy and Jeff Collins aka Alfalfa.

    Yep, the same Justin Burr who said “I believe using your political office for personal financial gain is criminal.” and the same one who spent campaign funds on appliances, rent, and Brooks Bros clothes. (which to my knowledge has never been squared…oh that’s right Bd of Elections Kim Strach is the wife of Atty Phil Strach above).

    1. Your designation of Burr reminds me of another, now defunct, political site that dubbed him Little Prince Chucklehead.

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