I have long been suspicious of state House speaker Thom Tillis.
He was recruited into politics by Richard Morgan — Robin to Jim Black’s Batman — to run against state Rep. — and Morgan critic — John Rhodes in the 2006 GOP primary. Rhodes was critical of Morgan’s sabotage of the House GOP caucus and the party’s legislative agenda.
So, Tillis accepted Morgan’s entreaties to run. Tillis became a willing tool of Team Morgan — its coziness with Jim Black and its efforts to derail conservative efforts in the House.
Tillis received SOME heat in the media for taking a lot of campaign contributions from payday lenders, shortly before pushing through the House a bunch of legislation the lenders championed. Team Tillis pointed out that the legislation was sponsored by two black Democrat members of the minority. But EVERYONE — including payday lenders — knows you need the approval of the speaker to get ANYTHING through the House. Did the wheels get greased?
A legislative source — and frequent reader of this site — tells me there are a lot of similarities between the regimes of Morgan and Tillis:
“Thom is just as ruthless and vicious and mealy-mouthed as Morgan. He’s just got a bit more class and tact than Richard. Thom will sell you out and stab you in the back in a minute. Look what he did to the Senate with the gas tax cap. Look what he’s done to everyone with the marriage amendment.”
Today’s blockbuster in The N&O raises new questions about Tillis. Look at the speaker’s response to allegations that his chief of staff, old friend, and current roommate was having an extramarital affair with a registered lobbyist: no comment and a quick resignation by his aide. Are we seriously expected to believe that Tillis had NO IDEA that his top aide, old friend, and roommate was entangled with a lobbyist? If he didn’t, what does it say about Tillis and his savvy and competence? If he did know, what does it say about the speaker’s sense of ethics?
Also, let’s not forget l’affaire Laroque — the growing scandal about the business dealings of House Rules committee chairman Stephen LaRoque (also a Tillis colleague in the Morgan clique). It took screaming from leftist activists and the media, a federal probe, and a formal request from the House Democrat leader for Tillis to agree to an ethics probe of LaRoque. LaRoque, from Kinston, has a tough primary this May. Hopefully, his voters will pass judgement and do the job Team Tillis SHOULD have done.
Team Tillis has put word out that he wants to run against Senator Kay Hagan in 2014. We’ve got a great stable of young conservatives in the current lieutenant governor race. Yet, the NCGOP is pinning its future to a guy — Tillis — who makes it clear IT is all about HIM. Ideology and Ethics are a distant second and third.
If the NCGOP wants to convince voters it is all about serious change in Raleigh — snatching power from the bureaucracy and giving it back to the people — the last thing it needs to do is put all its chips on guys like Tillis who are all about improving their personal fortunes on the public dime.
We got promised a conservative revolution in 2010. We GOT a slightly different flavor of business-as-usual. Tossing Team Tillis and replacing it with true conservative reformers is a step in the right direction to establishing the GOP as a long-term majority in Raleigh.