Under the Dome

Dome: Club for Growth targets Renee Ellmers

February 27, 2013 

Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers a liberal? Who knew?

The congresswoman from Dunn, who is serving her second term representing the state’s 2nd Congressional District, is on the list of Republicans that the limited government, low-tax group Club for Growth wants out.

The Club for Growth has Ellmers on its PrimaryMyCongressman website, where people are supposed to suggest primary opponents for Republicans elected to Congress scoring below 70 percent on the Club’s scorecard. The site criticizes Ellmers for siding with House GOP leadership too often.

Tagging Ellmers as a Republican In Name Only or RINO seems to conflict with a recent National Journal assessment, which said she was the 43rd-most conservative U.S. House member. The National Journal scored her as more conservative than Republican House colleagues Virginia Foxx, Patrick McHenry, Howard Coble and Walter Jones.

Ellmers easily survived a primary last year on her way to winning a re-election.

Hospitals overcharged prison system

A state audit found the Department of Public Safety spent too much on inmate care because hospitals overcharged the prison system.

The audit looked at the 10 largest hospital claims during the 12 months that ended June 30, 2012, and found that half overbilled the state. The amount paid for the 10 claims came to about $1 million. The Division of Adult Correction paid about $105,000 too much.

Because the audit was limited to 10 claims, the results cannot be used to draw conclusions about the 893 hospital claims the Division of Adult Correction reported it paid, the audit said.

The audit recommends the division try to get the money back and hire a professional audit firm. In its response, the Public Safety Department said it is looking to hire a claims management contractor to prevent overpayments.

McCrory makes pick for Utilities Commission

Gov. Pat McCrory made his first appointment to the influential N.C. Utilities Commission, picking an engineer with a background in heavy industry who works for a global company that makes products for the defense, oil and gas, mining and electric industries.

McCrory’s pick, Don M. Bailey of Union County, is the primary energy engineer at ATI Allvac, a specialty metals producer in Monroe and part of a Pittsburgh conglomerate with 11,200 employees worldwide and $5 billion in sales last year.

Bailey’s nomination requires approval from the state legislature to become effective.

The seven-member utilities commission has one vacancy and will have two more in July. The commissioners are paid about $125,000 a year; the chairman close to $140,000.

The utilities commission is reviewing rate-increase requests by Progress Energy and Duke Energy, and also oversees rates and service of natural gas utilities, phone companies, moving companies, transportation ferries, and private sewer-and-water companies.

Some activist groups have urged McCrory, who worked 29 years for Charlotte-based Duke Energy, to recuse himself from making appointments to the commission.

Retirement pays well for ex-lawmakers

It pays to be a legislative leader – even when you’re gone. Or out of prison.

Former leaders head the list of those receiving pensions under North Carolina’s Legislative Retirement System.

At the top of the list: former Democratic House Speaker Jim Black of Matthews, who served time in prison for corruption. He gets $3,607 a month, according to the state Treasurer’s office.

His predecessor, Republican Harold Brubaker of Asheboro, gets $3,444 a month to supplement his income as a lobbyist.

Not all pensions are as generous. Former Gov. Jim Holshouser and Irwin Belk of Charlotte, an heir to the department store fortune, served in the General Assembly. Each gets $100 a month.

Staff writers Lynn Bonner and John Murawski, and Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer.

Send tips to dome@newsobserver.com.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service