Under the Dome

Dome: Third-party spending in state legislative races hit new highs

January 20, 2013 

Spending by third-party groups in North Carolina legislative races appears to have been more even than in the previous election cycle, even as Republicans dominated individual and caucus fundraising, Scott Mooneyham at The Insider reports.

IRS documents and state campaign finance reports seem to indicate that the spending by the two major 527 groups in North Carolina – Real Jobs N.C., which backed Republican candidates, and Common Sense Matters, which backed Democratic candidates, spent similar amounts. Those reports show Real Jobs NC spending $812,605, compared with $773,641 for Common Sense Matters.

A final IRS form accounting for all spending Real Jobs N.C. had not yet been filed, so a complete accounting of its spending may not be included in the figures. Unlike Common Sense Matters, Real Jobs N.C. put some of its money toward the gubernatorial race in supporting Pat McCrory.

In the 2010 election cycle, Real Jobs N.C. spent more than $1.5 million, or nearly twice as much as in the most recent election cycle. But spending by the Republican and Democratic parties and caucuses was much closer that year. The campaigns of Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis combined to give nearly $2.5 million to the party and caucus treasuries in 2012. Democratic leaders contributed just a fraction of that amount.

Michael Weisel, general counsel of Common Sense Matters, said the third-party spending still left Republicans in swing districts with far more total money for campaign media than Democrats. He estimated that GOP candidates in targeted districts spent, on average, between three and four times that of their Democratic opponents. Some Republicans have contended that the outside spending created a more even playing field than Democrats want to acknowledge.

Whatever the actual figures, Republicans and Real Jobs N.C. succeeded in the majority of districts that were targeted. The two groups did not target f the same districts.

Cooper touts school safety plan

Following President Barack Obama’s gun violence prevention announcement last week, state Attorney General Roy Cooper called on the General Assembly to revisit recommendations from a 2006 school safety study that he led.

Those recommendations included putting more resource officers in schools, setting up a statewide school tip line, training for teachers on recognizing potential threats and responding to them, and re-establishing the Center for the Prevention of School Violence.

Some of the study’s recommendations were enacted, including routine lockdown drills and improved building security. Informational packets were also given to schools to help prepare for violence and other crises.

“We hope that this tragedy never happens at any of our schools, but we must take steps to prevent it and be ready in case it does,” Cooper said in a news release. “North Carolina should make sure every school and every law enforcement professional has the right tools and training.”

N.C.’s wealthy representatives

Three of North Carolina’s newest members of Congress have another distinction – they’re the state’s richest. The three – Republicans Robert Pittenger of the 9th District, Mark Meadows of the 11th and George Holding of the 13th – have the highest average net incomes in the state’s U.S. House delegation, according to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics. Pittenger, a Charlotte real estate investor, tops the list of all North Carolina lawmakers with an average net worth of $33.6 million, according to the center. That ranks him 19th wealthiest in the 435-member House.

Staff writers John Frank and Craig Jarvis

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