#ncga: Leadership on ethics NEEDED in Senate

The House is a lost cause.  The ruling cartel in that chamber circles the wagons and protects each other.  I’ve long seen the Senate as the last best hope for conservatism and good government. Though, some recent revelations have me rethinking that.

  • Jerry Tillman.   This senator, representing Moore and Randolph counties, has been reporting on his campaign finance disclosure forms that he has been renting a “campaign office” in Raleigh for the past few years.  Never mind that he hasn’t had any opponents.  Never mind that the “campaign office” is 80 miles outside his district. Never mind that the “office” is a condo on a golf course owned by a former legislator who is still a player in the development game.  Never mind that the “rent” Tillman reports paying is much lower than the going market rate for condos in that development.   It looks BAD.  If Tillman doesn’t recognize that himself, a grownup in leadership needs to explain it to him.  (Unfortunately, Tillman IS in leadership.  He continues to serve as majority whip.)
  • Fletcher Hartsell.  Media reports indicate he was indicted by the feds on September 27, 2016.  Here’s the lead investigator on the Hartsell case:

[…] John Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina, added in the statement released by federal prosecutors: “Senator Fletcher Hartsell degraded our country’s democratic process by spending campaign money as if it were from his own personal piggy bank. Hartsell paid for basic expenses including haircuts and lawn care with money that belonged to the American people. The FBI will work tirelessly to ensure any elected official who abuses their power is held accountable for their wrongdoing.”[…] 

According to the legislature’s web site, Hartsell was still a voting member-in-good-standing of the Senate as of December 21, 2016.   So, “abuse of power” and a federal indictment are not enough to get your voting privileges suspended in the Senate or your chairmanships revoked?  Former House Speaker Joe Hackney ran one of his own Democrats out of the House post-haste for spending a few thousand in campaign dollars on clothes.  Meanwhile, a federal indictment is apparently NO BIG DEAL to Senate leadership.  

  • Chad Barefoot.  This senator gets hired by a North Carolina college to oversee the aggregation of funding from outside sources while he was serving as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee for Higher Education. 
  • Bill Rabon.  This senator is raking in cash from architect and engineer types while he is simultaneously pushing the downsizing of the design operation within NCDOT and ordering that agency to outsource a lot more of its work.
  • Brent Jackson.   The stories surrounding this guy stir up images of Simon Legree and the plantation owners in Alex Haley’s “Roots.”  Here are some of the details: 

    […] This wasn’t the first time the Jackson Farming Company had legal action brought against it. In 1998, a guestworker named J. Carmen Fuentes suffered a heatstroke, but never received medical attention and fell into a permanent vegetative state; the Jacksons were later ordered to pay for Fuentes’ care for the rest of his life. And in 2004, another former worker named Julio Cesar Guerrero said that after he filed an OSHA complaint against the farm for forcing workers to run after water on a moving truck with their mouths under a spigot, he was written up and then fired […]
    In November, a U.S. Department of Labor official said that after an eight-month investigation in 2015, the Jackson Farming Company was “found in violation of recordkeeping, disclosure, and wage statement provisions, as well as violations resulting from failure to pay the minimum prevailing wage under the H-2A regulations,” and the farm was ordered to pay a total of $2,180 in back wages to twenty-one workers.[…]

So, a federal agency found that Jackson struggled to adhere to basic regulations governing farming.  Yet he’s STILL chairman of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources?