Under the Dome

Health care mandates stoke resistance

March 24, 2010 

State Senate GOP leader Phil Berger of Eden said Tuesday that he will introduce a bill when the legislature reconvenes in May to allow citizens to opt out of mandates of the new federal health care law.

"We cannot stand idly by while the federal government tramples on individuals' rights to make their own health care decisions," Berger said.

"Forcing individual citizens to buy a good or a service, as the federal legislation requires, is an unprecedented and unconstitutional overreach by the federal government, and it must be opposed," Berger added.

In January, both Berger and House GOP leader Paul "Skip" Stam of Apex made public their Health Care Protection Act to oppose requirements that would require most people to obtain health coverage or face penalties by 2014.

Time for armed revolt?

For eight years, Paul Wilms pushed lawmakers to see his way with arguments, cajoling and schmoozing.

Now, the longtime lobbyist for the N.C. Home Builders Association who retired a year ago says it may take heavy firepower to change the minds of Congress.

Wilms wrote a letter that was published in The News & Observer on Tuesday in which he quoted the Declaration of Independence and suggested that if conservatives don't win at the ballot box, the time may have come to use firearms. Wilms wrote that the Democratic health care legislation continued a series of actions meant to subject Americans to despotism.

"I hope that Americans will have the wisdom to vote in November such that armed conflict is avoided, but if force ultimately becomes necessary, I pray that Americans will have the courage, faith and determination of our Founding Fathers," he wrote.

Wilms told Dome that his father grew up in pre-World War II Germany and taught his children to keep a keen eye on government.

"He left Germany before the war, came over here and taught us to love our country but to be, if not fearful, at least skeptical of what the government was doing," Wilms said. "What he taught us about what happened in Germany seems to be occurring here."

Wilms is spending his retirement with his grandchildren, teaching high school driving students motorcycle safety and working with the Bikers for Christ ministry. He said he thinks the health care bill is an expansion of government, which in turn is a threat to individual liberty. That's just the kind of thing the colonists were revolting against, he said.

Who wants to know?

Every day, scores of motorists heading to downtown Raleigh look up and say to themselves, "What is the question?"

That's because the N.C. Republican Party spent $1,400 on a billboard on southbound Capital Boulevard that reads: "Answer the question BEV."

The party put up the sign for a month. It's part of a concerted effort to tar Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue with the same type of ethical and legal issues that have been swirling around her predecessor, Democrat Mike Easley.

So far, the party's efforts have been focused on news conferences. The billboard is a new front, although it's unclear how effective it has been since most people have no idea what it means.

Party Chairman Tom Fetzer said the billboard refers to a series of questions that essentially ask whether Perdue's campaign engaged in practices meant to skirt campaign finance law.

The questions, Fetzer said, include whether Perdue asked Wilmington financier and N.C. Board of Transportation member Lanny Wilson to give money to the N.C. Democratic Party with the understanding that the money would be funneled back to Perdue. Wilson, in an elections board hearing on Easley's campaign, testified that he funneled money through the party for Easley.

The questions further ask if Perdue's former chief of staff, Zach Ambrose, announced his decision to leave Perdue's office because of what Fetzer said were Ambrose's close ties to Wilson. Ambrose announced his departure on the same day Wilson quit the transportation board, which was also the day a federal indictment against former Easley aide Ruffin Poole became public. Wilson's dealings with Poole figured prominently in the indictment.

When asked by Dome to produce evidence supporting the allegations against Ambrose, Fetzer declined.

A spokesman for Perdue's campaign said the allegations were absolutely false.

"Fetzer continues to use this campaign of innuendo to draw associations. It's like McCarthyism," said Marc Farinella, a spokesman for Perdue's campaign. "Nothing like that transpired, and Fetzer should be embarrassed that he would malign somebody without a shred of evidence to back it up."

When reached Thursday, Ambrose, who was also Perdue's campaign manager, said: "There's no truth to any of that. It's hogwash."

By staff writers Rob Christensen and Benjamin Niolet

rob.christensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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