The dust is clearing from election day, and there is already talk of a potential palace coup within the lower chamber on Jones Street.
I know, I know. There was talk of overthrowing Thom Tillis after his first term as speaker. (And, of course, nothing happened. He got renominated unanimously by the Republicans.) But Tillis was and is a much smoother operator than the current occupant of the speaker’s chair, one Timothy K. Moore, Esq. Tillis’s shenanigans were much harder to pin down and nail to him. THAT is not the case with young Timothy.
Let’s examine the record, shall we?
- Money. One of the more important roles of a speaker is as the political leader of the majority. It involves fundraising and passing out campaign cash. Inside sources tell me Moore’s fundraising was one half to one third of what Tillis regularly ponied up to the coffers. An unusually large share of the caucus money found its way to Moore’s lieutenants — such as Nelson Dollar and David Lewis — who weren’t exactly cash-starved. A good chunk of caucus cash managed to make its way into the coffers of Dollar’s very own “political consulting” firm. Decisions from the top to pump caucus cash into the protection of Lewis and Dollar from conservative primary challengers arguably put the whole caucus at risk for November. (Arguably, the ‘Trump Train’ was the only thing that kept things a wash for the House GOP. Many around Jones Street KNOW it could have been A LOT worse.)
Then, reports surfaced about Moore allies in the House using their campaign cash for all kinds of personal use. Donors had a hard time reconciling this abuse of campaign cash with the pleas for more money from Moore & co. Democrat speaker Joe Hackney ran Raleigh legislator Ty Harrell right out of the caucus and the House for doing 1/1000th of what Moore’s team has done with their campaign cash. Moore’s silence about the campaign cash abuses under his watch doesn’t fare well in comparison. Under Moore, no one has lost their chairmanships, their caucus membership, or been run out of the House.
- Ethics. We already mentioned the appalling abuse of campaign cash. The Moore era in the House has offered up even more blatant evidence of pay-to-play. Let’s look back at the legislation allowing for counties to use state money to lease school buildings from private developers. The team pushing for the bill included among its principals a convicted drug kingpin. The group had all kinds of closed-door private access to the speaker and his team that you and I would never get. They also passed around campaign cash in the House like it was Christmas. The only thing that stopped the bill was an unrelated spat in the General Assembly that resulted in an earlier than expected adjournment. Oh, and let’s not forget the ethics complaint(s) against Rules Committee chairman, and top Moore ally, David Lewis that seemed to disappear into the ether last session.
- Transparency. Moore campaigned for the speakership promising more openness than previous eras. By all insider accounts, the Moore era has been worse on this question. Unless your name is Nelson Dollar, David Lewis, Kelly Hastings, John Szoka, Jason Saine, or Jimmy Dixon, you are left in the dark on most major decisions.
- Conservatism. Thom Tillis promised us a “conservative revolution” in the House. We’re getting one from the Senate. Under Moore, we’ve seen a dramatic decline from the anemic Tillis era in championing conservative ideas. Most conservative victories in Raleigh can trace their roots to the Senate. Just look at the Civitas rankings for Team Moore: Moore 57.1%, Szoka 57.1%, Saine 57.1%, Dollar 85.7%, Dixon 71.4%, Lewis 71.4%. THOSE are the alleged leaders of the alleged conservative revolution in the House! (Isn’t it interesting that there is not ONE honest-to-goodness conservative in the House leadership team?)
The people of North Carolina have been pleading for some relief from big government. Yet we have some Republican leaders — running under the mantle of the conservative party — who can’t seen to turn big government loose.