Morning Memo: Senate candidate Greg Brannon faces plagiarism questions

Posted by John Frank on November 8, 2013 

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon is facing questions about whether he plagiarized significant portions of his campaign website from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

From the New York Times: "For more than a week Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has been fending off criticism for using the writings of others, unattributed, in his own speeches, in an opinion article and in one of his books.

"But now it appears that Mr. Paul has also been the possible victim of literary larceny himself; he has apparently had his own material lifted without credit.

"The campaign website of a Republican candidate for the United States Senate in North Carolina, Greg Brannon, who Mr. Paul supports, includes descriptions of various policy positions that match those of Mr. Paul’s 2010 campaign website word for word." ( See examples here.)

Brannon is running as a tea party candidate, much in the model of Paul, who endorsed him. Brannon's campaign did not respond to the charges first posted Thursday night. A spokesman said Brannon plans to issue a statement Friday.

*** More #NCSEN news and a can’t miss picture below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory is attending a U.S. Airways breakfast in Charlotte at 7:30 a.m.

The Big Story -- HAGAN JOINS PUSH TO ROLL BACK HEALTH INSURANCE RULE: Sen. Kay Hagan on Thursday joined a push by Senate Democrats to get the Obama administration to make sure that people who like their health insurance can keep it.

North Carolina’s Democratic senator said she supported a bill that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced on Monday, the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act. ...

Landrieu’s bill would let people keep their current health plans as long as they made the payments, even if the policies don’t meet coverage standards under the law. Insurance companies would have to spell out what parts of the policy aren’t up to the standards. ...

Hagan and other Democrats facing re-election campaigns met at the White House Wednesday to talk with President Barack Obama about the health care rollout’s problems. She asked him to provide more clarity about what’s been fixed and what problems remain and to let the public know.

But Hagan pushed back against the idea that the health care plan would cause political trouble for her next year. “Obviously it’s not going the way it should and I’m disappointed and I’m frustrated and it’s totally unacceptable because the American people deserve better and the way I look at it, North Carolinians deserve better,” Hagan said

But she added that it’s not surprising that there would be fixes needed to a plan as large as the health care law, and many parts of the law have helped people. “I’ve known for years people that were stuck in jobs because they had health care” and feared they’d never get it on a new job because of a pre-existing condition, she said, adding that others lost coverage when they exceeded a lifetime coverage limit. Read more here.

RELATED -- OBAMA APOLOGIZES: Seeking to calm a growing furor, President Barack Obama said Thursday he's sorry Americans are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep under his signature health care law. But the president stopped short of apologizing for making those promises in the first place.

"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," he said in an interview with NBC News. Read more from AP here.

CELEBRITIES, POLITICIANS HONOR BILLY GRAHAM: Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told the crowd that her Catholic mother had become a Graham fan and brought the entire family to Christ.

“Billy Graham, we want you around for another 95 years,” she said. “We need for him to stick around for that next great awakening that our country and world needs.”

At times, the event seemed like a Fox News production, featuring many meeting of the network’s current and former commentators. Besides Palin, Glenn Beck was spotted at one of the tables. Greta Van Susteren, who hosts a show on Fox News, was the one who urged those at the party to light their birthday cupcakes and sing “Happy Birthday.”

Gov. Pat McCrory took the stage to celebrate Billy Graham’s humility, saying politicians could learn from him. And the party also drew N.C. GOP congressmen Robert Pittenger, Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows.

During the dinner, (son Franklin Graham) sat between real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who the younger Graham touted as a presidential candidate in 2012, and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Fox News Network, a favorite of conservatives. Read more here.

THE PHOTO YOU CAN’T MISS: McCrory, Palin, Trump ... all in one photo, courtesy of Greta Van Susteren’s Twitter feed. See it here.

GREG BRANNON’S REACTION TO TILLIS FUNDRAISERS: His opponent, Thom Tillis, is drawing Karl Rove for a series of big dollar fundraisers. But insurgent challenger Greg Brannon says so what. See here.

ROVE’S MEMO: In a recent fundraising memo for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rove seems to have forgotten he supports Tillis. From the memo: “Across the country, some of the best Republican candidates in a generation have stepped forward to run for the U.S. Senate in key states like Arkansas, Michigan, and West Virginia. These exceptional candidates are building strong, aggressive, and effective campaigns.”

'MORAL MONDAY' TRIALS PRODUCE MIXED RESULTS: On Wednesday, with the same lawyer representing them, the same prosecutor presenting evidence and the same judge presiding over their simultaneous trials, (one protester arrested at the legislative building) was found guilty of second-degree trespass and (another) was not.

Though the demonstrators participating in what organizers called “Moral Monday” protests were united in opposition to many of the new laws and policies from the 2013 General Assembly session, the varied verdicts from the early trials offer a portrait of a justice system where legal strategies, personalities and the slightest difference in evidence can have a major impact on the outcome of a case. Read more here.

HAGAN SUPPORTS ENDA, BURR DOESN’T: The Senate approved a long-stalled, landmark bill Thursday that would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, reflecting the nation’s fast-changing public and political attitudes toward gay rights.

The 64-to-32 vote caps a nearly 20-year effort to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through the Senate. It’s the most significant action on gay rights since Congress repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gay people serving openly in the military in 2010 and President Barack Obama announced support last year for same-sex marriage. Read more here.

BURR EXPLAINS HIS VOTE: “Like most Americans, I strongly oppose and condemn unjust discrimination,” Burr said in a statement issued by his office before the vote. “It is my hope that our society can be tolerant of different people and ideas. That said, whenever we consider new legislation we must always consider the interplay of new laws with existing rights. I am concerned that the ENDA bill would go beyond our existing laws protecting individuals’ employment rights and would impose new burdens and legal uncertainties regarding the exercise of religious liberties. Therefore, I plan to oppose the bill.”

STUDENTS DON'T MEASURE UP TO NEW STANDARDS: The sobering consequences of more rigorous classroom standards became clear Thursday when the state Board of Education revealed the dramatic drop in performance by students, schools and districts on standardized tests.

Compared with 2012 results, passing rates have dropped from 16 to 25 percentage points in reading, from 27 to 44 percentage points in math, and from 9 to 33 percentage points in science, depending on the test.

The results are based on standardized end-of-grade tests in reading and math in third through eighth grade, science tests for fifth- and eighth-graders, and end-of-course tests in three high school subjects.

GOVERNOR McCRORY ON THE TEST SCORES: Officials from Gov. Pat McCrory down to administrators in local school districts have tried to prepare the public for the declines attributed to new tests based on new and more rigorous standards, including the Common Core standards for reading and mathematics.

“These results were expected given we’ve substantially raised the academic standards our students and teachers have to meet,” McCrory said in a statement Thursday. “Given that more than 70 percent of our schools met or exceeded their academic growth goals under the old standards, I’m confident that, in short order, our students will rise to the challenge of meeting these tougher academic goals.” Read more here.

COBLE CALLS IT QUITS: As expected, 15-term U.S. Rep. Howard Coble said Thursday that he will not seek re-election next year. The announcement opens the doors for what is already a crowded field of prospective and confirmed candidates to replace the Republican representative from the 6th Congressional District.

Coble, 82, made the announcement at a news conference at the Guilford County Republican Party headquarters in Greensboro, where about 200 people gave him a standing ovation, The Associated Press reported. He is the longest-serving Republican in North Carolina’s congressional delegation. He declined to make an endorsement of a successor but a crowded GOP primary field is expected. Read more here.

WHY DEMOCRATS CAN WIN COBLE'S SEAT: The campaign of Laura Fjeld, a Democrat running to fill Coble's seat, issued a memo Thursday outlining why the seat is winnable, despite it's Republican leanings.

The main points from the memo: "redistricting makes the 6th District more winnable by removing counties that were heavily Republican – there are now more registered Democrats in this district (40%) than there are registered Republicans (36%); Kay Hagan won the new 6th District in 2008. Elaine Marshall carried the district twice. Bev Perdue broke even with McCrory here in 2008; Senator Hagan’s reelection campaign will have a positive impact on Democratic turnout; voters are tired of dysfunction and extremism. The soon to be crowded Republican primary will feature many extreme voices and rhetoric from far right-wing tea party activists who in recent years have been very successful winning Republican primaries; (and) Laura Fjeld ... has a far larger fundraising base than other Democrats who have run in the past."

WOS HAS NO REGRETS: From a WRAL interview: “Providers have complained about delays in getting paid for services to Medicaid patients and about difficulties in getting questions answered. Some needy families also said they had to go months without food stamps because of glitches with NC FAST.

“(Aldona) Wos said she has no regrets about launching either system, both of which have been in development for years. "It is a learning process," she said. "We're making herculean efforts daily – daily – to get to where we need to be."

Wos dodged discussing other recent controversies. See more here.

TOP OFFICIAL LOSES HIS JOB: A top official with the N.C. medical examiner’s office has lost his job following allegations that he mishandled evidence important to a 2011 homicide investigation.

Dr. Clay Nichols has been “separated” from his position as the state’s deputy chief medical examiner effective Nov. 5, according to a letter from Chief Medical Examiner Deborah Radisch. Nichols was instructed to remove all his belongings from the office by 5 p.m. Friday. State officials gave no reason for Nichols’ termination, calling it a confidential personnel matter.

The Observer reported this week that the State Bureau of Investigation has been investigating Nichols and has been examining his autopsy of Terrell Boykin, a 19-year-old Cumberland County man who was shot to death in 2011. Read more here.

UNC SYSTEM LOOKS TO CAP TUITION HIKES: Tuition and fee increases would be annually capped at 5 percent for in-state UNC system students for four years starting in 2015, under a proposal being considered by the governing board.

The UNC Board of Governors is beginning to devise a four-plan to guide tuition setting at the public universities across North Carolina. Such plans were started in 2006 in an attempt to stabilize tuition rates and provide some predictability for students and families across a four-year span. Read more here.

CAUTION --More on John Edwards love life: The New York Post this time. Read it here.

FORGET POLITICS -- COLLEGE BASKETBALL TIPS OFF: Cast aside political parties and caucus alliances, college basketball creates its own loyalties.

The season starts this week. Get a preview of the Tar Heels, Blue Devils and Wolfpack.

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