Under the Dome

Dome: Rep. Tim Moffitt’s new venture popular with colleagues

From Staff ReportsApril 13, 2013 

Representative Tim D. Moffitt (Rep)

MLEWIS

Rep. Tim Moffitt of Asheville recently started a new business, and Patrick Gannon of The Insider reports that his customers so far are fellow House Republicans spending campaign funds.

Gannon writes:

“InTouchNC LLC is offering polished websites, newsletters and Twitter and Facebook accounts to state lawmakers. The cost of the service ranges from $250 to $1,000 a month, based on the amount of personalized information requested by the legislator, Moffitt said in an interview with the Insider. And the service – a way for legislators to keep their constituents back home ‘in touch’ with their General Assembly work – apparently is selling like hotcakes. As of Monday, websites from InTouchNC were live online for 38 House Republicans – nearly half of party’s House members. ‘We’re excited about it,’ Moffitt said. ‘It’s a very professional way for members here to communicate with folks back home.’ No senators or Democrats had signed up as of this week.

“Moffitt said legislators would pay for the service through campaign accounts. But it wasn’t immediately clear how many legislators are paying the company for the sites. Some sites, Moffitt said, were put online for review by lawmakers who hadn’t yet agreed to pay for the service. House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, has a special website, www.nchousespeaker.com. Jordan Shaw, a Tillis spokesman, said Tuesday the speaker hadn’t signed a contract or paid the company any money for the site. The website was available online for his review, Shaw said.

“Moffitt said the business concept was ‘thoroughly vetted’ with his lawyer, as well as Tillis’ legal counsel and the State Ethics Commission, to ensure that it was legally and ethically sound. ‘We’ve done all the homework there,’ Moffitt said.

“One by one in recent weeks, dozens of websites for Republican House members showed up online. Each website uses the same URL structure – nchouse4.com, nchouse8.com, etc. – and is largely identical except for biographical information. The sites also include articles, written by InTouchNC staff, on legislative topics such as the voter ID bill, ferry tolling and the crossover deadline. New articles are posted regularly. Each site has available for download an eight-page constituent newsletter that features content from the websites.

“Moffitt said he owns InTouchNC, which state records indicate is based at Moffitt’s house in Asheville. The company employs several people, paid from the monthly fees. Moffitt said his longtime friend Gene Johnson runs the company. Johnson is also Moffitt’s campaign treasurer. InTouchNC purchased domain names for all 120 House districts and 50 Senate districts, Moffitt said. ‘It’s something that is ongoing,’ he said. ‘The members may change, but the House districts remain the same.’

“Moffitt said it’s difficult for conservatives to communicate effectively because the media often ‘focuses on what we do wrong rather than the totality of our work.’ So about a year ago, he said he reached out to a couple of friends in Buncombe County to put together a communications strategy. His website, www.nchouse116.com, is the end result. His constituents liked it, Moffitt said. Other House members began to ask how they could get one, and InTouchNC was formed in December.”

Ellmers: Restore cancer money

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers was on Fox News on Thursday night trying to build support for legislation that would restore money for cancer patients on Medicare who are receiving chemotherapy.

Appearing on the Greta Van Susteren program, Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn, said some Medicare patients are being hurt by 2 percent cuts for cancer care services and drugs.

“We must take care of the most vulnerable,” said Ellmers, a former nurse.

The cuts are affecting clinics, forcing patients in some cases to leave their communities and go to hospitals for treatment. She said it is often more expensive and difficult for some people to travel, which sometimes delays treatment.

McCrory’s popularity rises

North Carolinians remain divided about President Barack Obama, but Gov. Pat McCrory continues to be popular, according to a new poll.

Forty-five percent of North Carolina residents – not just voters – polled said they approved of Obama’s job performance, while 46 percent disapproved, according to the Elon University Poll.

McCrory had a job approval rating of 46 percent, which was similar to that of Obama. But his disapproval rating was much lower at 25 percent. McCrory’s approval rating has risen from 42 percent to 46 percent since February.

The approval rating for Congress is only 12 percent.

The approval rating the state legislature was 37 percent, up four points since February. An additional 39 percent disapproved.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan had an approval rating of 40 percent, and a disapproval rating of 33 percent. The Greensboro Democrat is up for re-election next year. Her colleague, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem, had an approval rating of 39 percent and a disapproval rating of 26 percent.

The survey questioned 770 North Carolina residents from April 5-9 and had a margin of error of 3.53 percent. Unlike most polls, it did not quiz just voters but polled all residents.

Staff writer Rob Christensen

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