The NC House: Seems like Old Times

jimblackmorganfat

 

 

Neil Simon had a pretty successful movie in the 70s by that name.   It’s too bad we’re not talking about a comedy classic here. 

Deals being cut behind the scenes.  Promising legislators one thing, then pulling the rug out from under them.  Using legislative power to protect powerful outside interests.  Legislators being threatened and punished for daring to speak against “leadership.”  Those were aspects of the SOP during the Richard Morgan-Jim Black reign of terror in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

When the GOP took over on Jones Street in 2011, we got promise after promise about never going back to that garbage.  We were going to see openness and transparency.  The heavy-handedness of the old days was gone for good — or so we were told. Jim Black and Richard Morgan are long gone from their posts of power in the legislative building.  But Black-Morgan protégé Thom Tillis is running the show in the lower chamber these days, and — from all appearances — he learned a lot from his old masters.

In the waning days of the 2004 session, then- SpeakerrrrrrrrRichardMorgan™ was raising eyebrows with his legislative diligence on behalf of a Virginia-based cigarette company (that just happened to dump a lot of coinage into his campaign coffers).  Now, we have Speaker Thom Tillis working overtime behind the scenes to push through a very controversial toll road proposal that a huge chunk of his constituents DO NOT want.  Tillis operatives in Raleigh AND in Mecklenburg have been working overtime to stymie grassroots activists simply seeking a dialogue and debate on the whole toll road matter.

Now we have the latest action on Jones Street — ably documented by our friends at A Short Chronicle:

Something happened quietly at the last meeting of the NC House Transportation Committee which should disturb and anger anyone who believes our government should operate in an open an honest manner.  There’s simply no other way to put it.

As readers of aShortChronicle know, House Bill 267 was filed in early March with the title – NCGA Prior Approval/Interstate Tolling.  This bill would have required an “act of the general assembly” before any tolling could take place on an existing interstate road in North CarolinaThe initial story was covered here and a follow-up was covered here when Committee Chair and Mecklenburg Representative, Bill Brawley, signed on to the bill as a sponsor.

As has been reported previously, upon its initial filing, opponents of the I-77 HOT lanes project initially thought this bill might provide an opening to stop this effort to implement tolls locallyHowever, Rep Brawley as well as Co-Sponsor John Torbett of Gaston County immediately began to backpedal on the bill’s impact to I-77 saying, without any solid or documented justification, that I-77 would in fact not be impacted by the bill.  No additional vote would be required. (See here for more on that.)

Last Thursday this bill finally was heard in Committee, but the NCLEG.net page for the bill was not updated.  Friday night, aShortChronicle received this response from legislative staff as to the status of the bill.

“The bill passed with a couple of changes.  It will be reported out Monday and the new version will be on the internet after that.” (Emphasis added.)

Today, that report came.

Here’s the new version of the bill with a new title – Limit Tolling on Existing Interstates.

This is a completely new bill with no mention of the NCGA voting.  “Only a couple of changes” becomes something “completely and totally different”.  This new bill now focuses on how tolls can be implemented rather than the General Assembly voting on when they can be implemented.

Unfortunately, this type of activity has become par for the course in this debate about tolls on I77.  Transparency and dealing in good faith went out the window some time ago for tolling supporters.

So, we approved a measure that the House will have to vote on the implementation of toll roads.  Now, the speaker supports a very controversial project in Mecklenburg, and we’re NOT going to vote????   

Is THIS the stuff we fought so hard FOR in 2010?   To trade one set of slick, mealy-mouthed wheeling-and-dealing insiders for another?  What would it hurt to have an open, honest dialogue between state officials and the people in the affected communities?  What would it hurt? Seriously. 

Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss.  We won’t get fooled again.  (Or will we?) 

16 thoughts on “The NC House: Seems like Old Times

  1. Tillis’ role model for his special interest legislative dictatorship goes back even before the corrupt Morgan / Black era. Tillis is the second coming of Liston Ramsey.

    Tillis is TOTALLY TOTALLY TOTALLY unfit to be GOP nominee for US Senate. He needs to be stopped.

  2. Yeah, it is almost like they are telling us they are sorry they got elected and cannot wait to be gone. It reminds me of when I woke up one morning beside that ol’ gal from Siler City. I swore off strong drink after that mistake too.

  3. While it is true that Morgan backed Thom Tillis 7 years ago, it is is certainly untrue that Tillis is a “Black-Morgan protégé.” That is an outrageous slander.

    Morgan’s support for Tillis obviously wasn’t really about Tillis, it was just about Morgan taking vengeance on John Rhodes. Morgan would have backed a yellow dog if the dog were running against Rhodes.

    Thom is no Morganista. Thom is his own man, and the surprising fact (at least, surprising to me) is that Thom Tillis has done a good job in the NC House.

    I don’t like toll roads or HOT lanes. But even if Thom does, or even if he does so strenuously, that doesn’t make him a Morganista. If he took a $100,000 bribe to buy his support, like Morgan did, that would make him a Morganista — but, of course, you know Tillis did no such thing.

    If Thom is wrong on one issue (or many issues), that doesn’t make him a crook.

    I might seem like an odd person to be praising Thom. I love John Rhodes, whom Tillis defeated in that Primary, 7 years ago. Rhodes was a conservative tiger in the NCGA, blowing the whistle on the corrupt Black/Morgan leadership before anyone else in the NCGA grew enough backbone to even talk about it. I was heartbroken when Rhodes lost his primary to Tillis.

    Nobody knows better than I do the damage that Richard Morgan, Paul Schumaker, Cherie Berry, and their little clique of back-stabbing crooks and RINOs did. I am webmaster of the http://www.mooregop.org web site, your one-stop shop for the truth about Richard Morgan’s evil deeds. I also personally filed a sworn complaint with the State Board of Elections about Morgan’s campaign finance violations (a complaint which the Democrat-controlled Board illegally ignored). You can read my sworn complaint on my web site.

    I was suspicious of Thom for a long time. Stam was the conservatives’ favorite for Speaker, and when he lost that race to Tillis I feared the worst.

    But my fears were misplaced. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. Stam & Tillis work together very well, and they’ve done a remarkably good job of “herding cats” in the notoriously fractured NC House Republican Caucus. In fact, against all odds, the NC House has been more productive than the Senate.

    Adam, it’s time to move on from the Morgan/Black battles w/r/t Thom Tillis. Tillis has proved himself worthy of conservative support.

    Tillis and Berger are both good men, and both are better candidates and much more conservative than Dr. Greg Brannon, the nutraceutical and bioidentical hormone replacement snake oil peddler who’s backed by the Ron Paul / libertarian crowd. I’d be very happy to have either Tillis or Berger as our next U.S. Senator.

  4. Stam a conservative??? He may be on a few social issues like abortion, but rarely on anything else. And Tillis? As Speaker he has been blocking or watering down conservative legislation right and left. What Tillis has done to Voter ID is outrageous, for example. Tillis was RECRUITED by Morgan and Black, so he has been very thick with them. He also uses Morgan and Brubaker’s consultant. Ideologically, Tillis is just Kay Hagan without the skirt. If he is the nominee why should conservatives even bother?

    1. “Raphael” (whoever you really are): If you doubt that Skip Stam is a conservative you are remarkably clueless, and if you really think that “Tillis is just Kay Hagan without the skirt” then you are insane, and if you don’t really think so then you are a liar.

      I can see why you wouldn’t want your real name associated with your behavior.

      1. Skip Stam reminds me a lot of Mike Huckabee, aka ”The Huckster”. They are conservative on abortion and a few social issues, but are all over the landscape on everything else. That is NOT a conservative. The conservative Club of Growth calls Huckabee a ”Christian socialist” and the conservative RedState site has called him a ”pro-life statist”. Both Stam and Huckabee are not fond of Tea Party conservatives and the feeling is mutual. Stam’s war against Tea party state Rep. Glen Bradley reminds me a lot of Huckabee running all over the country in 2012 endorsing the establishment candidates against just about every major Tea Party contender. If Huckabee had had his way, we would have had liberal David Dewhurst in Texas’ Senate seat instead of the first rate conservative Senator Ted Cruz. Huckabee has already started his 2014 endorsement of establishment candidates over conservatives with the US Senate seat in South Dakota. If you suffer from tunnel vision and look at nothing but social issues, you might be deluded into thinking Stam or Huckabee is a conservative.

  5. Thom Tillis’s closest ally in the NC House Indicted Federal Trial begins, Will Tillis take the stand and testify too?

    No, this is not the story about Thom Tillis’ married Chief of Staff and roomate who was caught having an affair with a married lobbyist in Tillis’ shared apartment in Raleigh. That was the other member of the leadership team chosen by Tillis.

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/04/27/3202513/charles-thomas-nc-speakers-top.html

    A little more detail about the Speaker’s closest ally in the house and his choice for the “leadership team”.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/05/20/2904735/criminal-trial-set-to-begin-for.html

    The former Kinston lawmaker was set to go on trial Monday on a dozen felony charges stemming from a pair of government-funded non-profit corporations federal prosecutors allege he used as personal piggy banks.

    According to a 77-page federal indictment, LaRoque scammed taxpayers to finance a lavish lifestyle that included a six-figure salary and $300,000 in interest-free personal loans used to buy a house, new cars, an ice-skating rink and a collection of jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs.

    LaRoque, 49, faces four counts of theft from programs receiving federal funds, four counts of transactions in criminally derived property, a count of cover-up by scheme or device, a count of fictitious and fraudulent representation, and two counts of making false tax returns.

    LaRoque was elected to three terms representing a district that included Greene County and parts of Lenoir and Wayne counties. Rising to become the influential co-chairman of House Rules Committee.

    Dave Burton will be by soon to explain all this away.

  6. Is Tillis going crazy? Is he still competent to lead the House? Going off on a rant and slamming doors. Sounds more like a punk and a thug.

    Seems like he went nuts after his business relationship with Time Warner cable was publicly exposed. Someone should check to see how many Time Warner cable friendly bills were approved since we now know they have a business relationship with the Speaker.

    1. I agree with Brawley about toll roads, and I have no love for Time-Warner, which is heavily involved in the pornography business, and engages in what I consider shady business practices. However, “Brawley says that Tillis says that he has a business relationship with Time-Warner” is a very weak peg to hang a dunce cap on.

      Come to think of it, I have a business relationship with them, too: I buy Internet service from them. I’ve paid them thousands of dollars over the years.

      It is always unwise to accept as unvarnished, unexaggerated, gospel truth what someone says about someone else, the more so if you they’re angry with one another. In this case, you’ve not only done that, you’ve even exaggerated the accusations.

      Who are you, “DidntSeeThatComing?”

      1. Does it really makes sense to you that Tillis would use the term ”having a business relationship with TimeWarner” to mean that he only had a cable subscription from them? Do cable subscribers usually blow their tops and slam doors over someone who is not nice to their cable provider? Get real!

        I note that you seem to be Tillis’ chief apologist on this site, self appointed or otherwise.

  7. I read this story from a series of posts at a website. Very disturbing to say the least.

    How did this fellow Tillis become the speaker much less a Republican US Senate candidate. Another Weiner story unfolds. As a voter who would like to see Republicans win, what if these issues blow up in the election against Hagan. The Republican’s chances would be sunk.

    http://www.redstate.com/2013/05/30/nc-house-speaker-thom-tillis-to-announce-run-for-senate/

    The Thom Tillis Story

    One also has to remember where Tillis came from politically, and whose protégé he was, and that is the notorious Richard Morgan. In 2002, North Carolina voters elected a 61-59 GOP majority in the NC House. Jim Black, the Democrat Speaker paid cash to buy off one Republican to switch parties (the money was passed in the mens room of an IHOP), which made it 60-60. Negotiations were underway for a 50/50 power split between the parties, when Richard Morgan and a small band of other moderate Republicans did a separate deal with the Democrats, which left Democrats with most of the real power, and left the House GOP caucus out in the cold. During the period of the Black-Morgan coalition, Morgan tried to keep his allies in office while trying to defeat Republican regulars. Morgan lost some of his allies but did take out one incumbent conservative Republican in a Mecklenburg County district. The candidate he recruited and financed to do that was none other than Thom Tillis. A resolution finding Morgan guilty of party disloyalty for his actions in the NC House and barring him from holding any party office was overwhelmingly adopted by the state GOP executive committee, and Morgan was subsequently defeated in the GOP primary for his own House seat. Black went to federal prison for corruption. With this background, who could ever trust Tillis in the US Senate?

    One area that many conservatives expected the Feds to go into on Morgan was the NC Mainstreet Committee. This was an issue-type committee designed to run ”almost political” ads in favor or against a candidate. It was affiliated with a national moderate Republican group with a similar name. Morgan created and used it to attack his enemies and help his friends, including Thom Tillis. What was odd about it was that it had only one contributor, a small Virginia tobacco company. That company had wanted certain legislation passed by the NC legislatiure. The Morgan clique agreed to get that legislation through if the tobacco company put a wad of money into this NC Mainstreet Committee. It is likely that Black had to sign off on the deal to be certain Democrats did not derail it. Anyway, both sides made good on the deal. The legislation was passed and the money put into the NC Mainstreet Committee and used to influence legislative races. No one has heard the Feds reasoning for not pursuing this issue.

    One of Thom Tillis’ closest legislative allies, former Rep. Stephen LaRoque, will be tried in a few months on a series of federal felony charges and this may well rub off on Tillis. The charges involve misuse of federal funds in a non-profit run by LaRoque, but have a particular political dimension in that LaRoque doled out funds to other legislators who were allies of Tillis. Two of those other legislators have resigned their seats as a result, and LaRoque was defeated in the 2012 GOP primary. LaRoque was a freshman when Morgan sold out to Black, and initially stood with the GOP caucus against Morgan but eventually slid over to the Morgan side. That led to his defeat in the next GOP primary. LaRoque bided his time and eventually got back into the House, just as Tillis was making his play for power. Since both had been spear-carriers for Morgan, LaRoque quickly became part of Tillis’ inner circle, and Tillis appointed LaRoque chairman of the powerful Rules Committee. Tillis has strongly defended LaRoque on his legal problems as they developed over a number of months, and refused to make him relinquish the Rules Committee chairmanship even as the evidence against LaRoque mounted.

  8. Former member of NC Speaker Thom Tillis’ inner circle and leadership team was convicted today in Federal court in Greenville, NC.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/06/07/2945583/former-state-rep-stephen-laroque.html

    Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque has been convicted on 12 counts of federal charges related to accusations that he enriched himself with U.S. Department of Agriculture money that he was supposed to loan to struggling rural business owners.

    http://www.redstate.com/2013/05/30/nc-house-speaker-thom-tillis-to-announce-run-for-senate/

    From RSemmes at RedState.com
    One of Thom Tillis’ closest legislative allies, former Rep. Stephen LaRoque, will be tried soon on a series of federal felony charges and this may well rub off on Tillis. The charges involve misuse of federal funds in a non-profit run by LaRoque, but have a particular political dimension in that LaRoque doled out funds to other legislators who were allies of Tillis. Two of those other legislators have resigned their seats as a result, and LaRoque was defeated in the 2012 GOP primary. LaRoque was a freshman when Morgan sold out to Black, and initially stood with the GOP caucus against Morgan but eventually slid over to the Morgan side.
    That led to his defeat in the next GOP primary. LaRoque bided his time and eventually got back into the House, just as Tillis was making his play for power. Since both had been spear-carriers for Morgan, LaRoque quickly became part of Tillis’ inner circle, and Tillis appointed LaRoque chairman of the powerful Rules Committee. Tillis has strongly defended LaRoque on his legal problems as they developed over a number of months, and refused to make him relinquish the Rules Committee chairmanship even as the evidence against LaRoque mounted.

    Today Laroque was convicted on Federal charges. Sentencing is set for September 10th.

    Who will be next?

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