Under the Dome

Dome: McCrory says Monday protests are unlawful, unacceptable

From Staff ReportsJune 4, 2013 

MONDAYPROTEST08-NE-060313-CCS

Protestors cheer at Halifax Mall in support of "Moral Mondays" protests at the General Assembly in Raleigh on June 3, 2013. At least 1,000 people attended a rally on Halifax Mall, and 151 people were arrested when they refused to leave the Legislative Building. The group is protesting the policies of the Republican lawmakers.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Gov. Pat McCrory said he welcomed lawful demonstrations, but said the civil disobedience of “Moral Mondays” should not be given “credence.”

“Unlawful demonstrations should be unacceptable,” he told reporters Tuesday following a meeting of the Council of State. “But lawful demonstrations we welcome. That is the great part of our democracy.”

More than 1,000 people demonstrated Monday against actions of the legislature, and more than 150 subjected themselves to arrest as part of a planned protest.

“I prefer peaceful demonstrations in which you do not block access to getting the people’s work done,” McCrory said.

Think tank wants investigation

In sweeping complaints filed Tuesday, the Civitas Institute is requesting that the N.C. attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and State Board of Elections investigate state election staffers for engaging in political activity, alleging possible criminal violations.

The conservative think tank also wants inquiries into the conduct of Bob Hall, the director and lobbyist for Democracy North Carolina, an advocacy organization that often butts heads with Civitas.

In the letters, Civitas President Francis De Luca identifies three areas for investigation that he says were uncovered in more than 5,000 emails obtained through public records requests. Civitas alleges that:

• In 2012, then-elections chief Gary Bartlett asked a staff attorney to fact-check partisan talking points for Hall that criticized Republicans for opposing efforts to get Help America Vote Act money for the administration of elections.

• In 2008 and possibly other years, Bartlett also allowed Hall to edit a nonpartisan voters guide to judicial elections, suggesting formatting and style changes as well as edits to candidates’ statements.

• In 2012, Bartlett and a lawyer for the elections agency allowed an outside vendor to submit voter registration forms using an electronic signature, which Civitas contends violates state law, and falsely claimed the state attorney general’s office signed off on the matter.

Kim Strach, the state elections executive director who replaced Bartlett in May, did not respond immediately to a message seeking comment. Hall dismissed the complaint.

“Maybe they hope it will cause me to be less vocal or stop working to improve the election process in North Carolina,” he wrote in a statement about the complaint.

Democracy North Carolina acts as a campaign finance and elections watchdog. Hall has recently filed complaints requesting the state elections board investigate sweepstakes gambling money.

Tillis: Game fish bill is dead

A spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, confirmed Monday that the so-called game fish bill is dead for this year, Patrick Gannon at the Insider reports. “It’s not going to move,” Jordan Shaw said. The House Republican Caucus made the decision last week, and Tillis – who hasn’t taken a public position on the measure – is respecting that position, Shaw said.

Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, said the caucus deferred to coastal legislators who opposed the measure because of opposition from commercial fishermen in their districts. “It puts them in a more difficult spot than anyone else,” Murry said.

Recreational fishing groups that support game fish status for red drum, spotted sea trout and estuarine striped bass are urging their members to contact the speaker’s office or their legislators to urge them to bring House Bill 983 back for a vote.

“We want to see the votes. We think we deserve that,’ said Dick Hamilton of the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group, a loose association of recreational fishermen.

Staff writers Rob Christensen and John Frank

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