Under the dome

Dome: Anti-Obama ad campaign launches today in N.C.

STAFF WRITERSJanuary 16, 2012 

Americans for Prosperity - as political observers know - is plenty prosperous. So much so that the group is launching a $6 million ad campaign in North Carolina and other battleground states today.

The campaign focuses on TV and social media. Central to it is a TV ad that attacks President Barack Obama over the federal loan guarantees made to Solyndra, the California clean energy company that filed for bankruptcy.

Dallas Woodhouse, state director for Americans for Prosperity, was kind enough to send out a link to an ABC News story by Jake Tapper that fact-checked the ad. "FYI, (I do not agree with Tappers thoughts)" Woodhouse wrote. He just wanted folks to get an early look at the ad.

By the way, in checking the facts, Tapper found the ad came up short on several key points and that it sliced and diced a quote by Obama.

Woodhouse's email said Americans for Prosperity was spending slightly more than $1 million on the ad buy in North Carolina.

Oh, and how prosperous is Americans for Prosperity? Tapper points out that the group is partially funded by billionaires David and Charles Koch.

Burr favors agency mergers

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr welcomed Obama's calls Friday for greater power to merge several trade and commerce agencies and create a more "effective, lean government." But the Winston-Salem Republican questioned why the president didn't do more earlier this year when Republican senators introduced bills that worked toward the same goal.

"In last year's State of the Union, President Obama pledged to shrink the federal government and eliminate government waste by proposing to merge and consolidate federal agencies," Burr said. "Yet until now, he has remained silent on the issue while Senate Republicans introduced bills that would dramatically reduce the staggering amount of money wasted annually on duplicative programs within the federal government."

On Friday, Obama said "the government we have is not the government that we need" and announced that he sought more congressional authority so he could consolidate six agencies primarily focused on business and trade.

Burr has introduced two bills to consolidate different agencies that, he says, would advance the president's proposal.

One would consolidate the Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce into a new agency called the Department of Commerce and the Workforce. The second consolidates the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency into one agency called the Department of Energy and Environment.

Burr said he looked forward to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allowing votes on these bills.

Praise for retirement funding

The Republican-led legislature got an atta boy last week for fully funding the state retirement system in the current budget.

The board of trustees of the Teachers' and State Employee' Retirement System passed a resolution expressing "deep appreciation and gratitude to the General Assembly ... in securing the advancement of the retirement system."

Among those signing the resolution was the board's chairwoman, Democratic State Treasurer Janet Cowell.

"The positive results discussed in this resolution were made possible by focused lawmakers and responsible budgeting in the General Assembly," said House Speaker Thom Tillis. "Despite a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, we were able to fully fund the that state's retirement system. And we did it without raising taxes."

Westmoreland to fill out term

Wes Westmoreland, the former Cleveland County GOP chairman, has been chosen to fill the seat vacated by 17-year incumbent Sen. Debbie Clary, according to the Shelby Star.

But Westmoreland, the owner of a printing company, has agreed only to serve out the remainder of Clary's term and will not seek election to a full term in November. That is because Cleveland County has been drawn into a new district with Sen. Warren Daniel of Burke County, who is seeking re-election, and Westmoreland has agreed to back Daniel.

"I've been very clear I was not going to stand for election in 2012," Westmoreland told the Star. "This is obviously a temporary seat. Whether it's one year or 17 years, we hold a temporary seat, a temporary trust of the public, and I will do my best to fill that."

Westmoreland ran for the state Senate in 2006, losing to Democrat Walter Dalton, who is now lieutenant governor.

He was chosen by the Republican senatorial district committee. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue is obliged to appoint Westmoreland. In announcing her resignation, Clary has said she wants to become involved in lobbying.

Cornatzer: 919-829-4755 or mcornatzer@newsobserver.com

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