The Brawley Censure: A parting shot from Speaker Thom

tillis listenState House Republican leaders tried hard to spin the censure of one of their colleagues yesterday as anything but a vendetta executed at the order of Speaker Thom Tillis.  We spoke with three sources — intimately familiar with the inner workings of the House Republican caucus — who tell us the move against Robert Brawley was definitely orchestrated by Tillis. Said one of these sources:

“This was a 100 percent corner office production.  Oh, [state Rep.and Tillis henchman] Leo [Daughtry] and [Majority Leader] Edgar [Starnes] were out front on this thing, but they were carrying out orders handed down from the Speaker’s office.  That was crystal clear to everyone.”

All three of my sources concurred on that version of events.  I asked why the caucus would bother to do this — given the fact that Brawley will be leaving office in a few months.  One of the other sources told me:

“This was supposed to go down right before the May primary, in order to provide the most negative publicity and embarrassment for Brawley as possible.  They had a hard time getting enough people together before the primary to get this done.  A lot of people felt really uncomfortable getting involved in this never-ending pissing match between Brawley and the Speaker.”

Robert Brawley lost his renomination bid on May 6 by about 100 votes — to a Tillis ally and campaign contributor.  The Tillis-Brawley feud went public late last year when Brawley was stripped of his Finance Committee chairmanship.  Brawley submitted a letter to  Tillis leveling accusations of the speaker abusing his power for the benefit of campaign contributors.  Tillis made Brawley read the letter aloud to the House — thereby making things public.  One of my sources pointed out: 

”All of this turmoil and drama is Tillis’ fault.  He could have handled the initial episode much differently.  He and the caucus would not have had even half of this drama.  This thin-skinnedness and vindictiveness — it’s shades of Richard Morgan, or even Richard Nixon.”