Morning Memo: Tillis may support GOP health care alternative

Posted by John Frank on February 14, 2014 

The new attack ad hitting Thom Tillis in North Carolina is getting a good bit of attention from fact-checkers at the Washington Post and PolitiFact who conclude it falls short of the full truth. And to counter the claims Tillis is taking a new stance.

The Patriot Majority USA spot criticizes Tillis for wanting to repeal the federal health care law and all the ramifications if it happens. But Republicans have an alternative plan – led in part by North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr – and Tillis is beginning to embrace it.

His spokesman Jordan Shaw told PolitiFact: "Speaker Tillis doesn’t believe that the Affordable Care Act is the only way to address health care problems. While he hasn’t officially endorsed the Burr-Coburn-Hatch plan because he hasn’t had a chance to discuss it in detail with Sen. Burr, he does think there are many good ideas in the plan. It is certainly a positive step toward a conservative alternative to Obamacare."

This appears to be new. Tillis has avoided talking in detail about major issues so far in his campaign, and he has not made public comments about Burr’s proposal.

As for the ad, PolitiFact found the claim about Tillis wanting to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions “mostly true,” based on his desire for an Obamacare repeal and his limited statements on what he wants to see in an alternative plan. Read more here.

The Washington Post took a look at the broader ad and concluded claims that Tillis – and other Republicans – simply want to repeal the law don’t tell the whole story. It concludes: “But just as repeal is increasingly not credible, neither are claims that Republicans simply want to turn back the clock. (Tillis, however, certainly would have a better defense if he specifically embraced or proposed an alternative.)”

Fact-checker Glenn Kessler rated the Obamacare portion of the ad at “two pinocchios,” meaning it has significant omissions or exaggerations or both.” Read more here.

*** The Dome Morning Memo is back after being frozen for a day. Catch up on North Carolina political news below.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will give an update on the winter storm cleanup operations at a 10:15 a.m. press conference in Raleigh.

ADDENDUM: Tillis is using the Patriot Majority attack ad to raise money, asking his supporters to send $35 to fight back. “While Kay Hagan denounces the use of outside funds against her, her liberal cronies in DC are dumping another half a million dollars in attack ads to falsely attack me,” he wrote in a fundraising email.

KAY HAGAN HITS BACK: Thom Tillis isn’t the only one getting hit with attack ads. Democrat Kay Hagan has been bombarded by Americans for Prosperity. But she’s not taking it quietly.

From Politico: Vulnerable Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan shrugged off the massive amounts of money being spent in her race by a group backed by the Koch brothers, saying her state’s residents will stop them from trying to “buy” her seat in the Senate.

“The people in North Carolina are not going to let the billionaire Koch brothers buy this seat,” Hagan said on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Wednesday night. Read more here.

THE BIG STORY -- FEDERAL JUDGE STRIKES VIRGINA SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN: In a federal court ruling echoing decisions reached elsewhere in the U.S., Virginia on Thursday became the first state in the South to overturn a voter-approved prohibition of same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen issued a stay of her order while it is appealed, meaning that gay couples in Virginia still will not be able to marry until the case is ultimately resolved. Both sides believe the case won't be settled until the Supreme Court decides to hear it or one like it.

Allen's decision makes Virginia the second state in the South to issue a ruling recognizing the legality of gay marriages. Read more here.

THE OTHER BIG STORY: Feds open criminal probe of Duke Energy spill -- McCrory administration subpoenaed in case headed for a grand jury: The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into the state environmental agency tasked with regulating Duke Energy after a coal ash spill left the Dan River so polluted that people were advised to avoid contact with the water.

The probe, environmentalists say, might also open a window into the relationship that state regulators have with the country’s largest electricity provider, a company that also was a 28-year employer of Gov. Pat McCrory.

Subpoenas were issued this week summoning officials from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Duke Energy to produce records before a federal grand jury scheduled to meet in Raleigh March 18-20.

The subpoenas demand that DENR provide regulatory documents, including any correspondence with Duke since January 2010. Read more here.

RELATED: The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services warned people downstream of the Duke Energy coal ash spill on the Dan River to avoid contact with water and sediment from the stream, and not to eat any fish or shellfish from that section of the Dan. Read more here.

MORE #NCPOL ---

ATTORNEY GENERAL COOPER OPPOSES COMPENSATION -- Families of deceased Wilmington 10 want compensation after Gov. Perdue’s pardon: The families of the four deceased members of the civil rights protesters known as the Wilmington 10 are seeking compensation, but the state attorney general’s office is trying to block the claim.

The case, which is pending before the N.C. Industrial Commission, comes after compensation was awarded to the living members of the Wilmington 10, including former national NAACP head Benjamin Chavis.

State law allows those who receive pardons of innocence to be granted payments based on the time that they were wrongfully imprisoned. But lawyers in the office of Attorney General Roy Cooper argue that the law makes no provision for compensation to the estates of the deceased.

CHAVIS RECEIVED ABOUT $245,000: Claims approved by the Industrial Commission, and signed off on by Cooper’s office last May, provided a total of $1,113,605 to Chavis, Reginald Epps, James McKoy, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick and Willie Earl Vereen. Chavis received $244,470, and Patrick received $187,984. Most of the other awards were about $175,000. The law calls for payments of $50,000 for each year that someone was wrongfully imprisoned, with total compensation not to exceed $750,000. Read more here.

VOLLER DEFENDS CHAVIS, AMID SEARCH FOR DEM PARTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: “Dr. Chavis has a track record of looking out for communities that feel they’ve been left behind,” Voller said.

“I’m interested in what I call a democracy revival, and I’m looking for anybody to work with us to revive democracy in all parts of the state. Democracy can’t be a once-every-four-year exercise. We can’t be the cicada party.”

Voller dismissed his critics, too: “It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and lob hand grenades,” he said. “What they really need to do is say, ‘How do we energize the base? How do we get more people involved?’

“When you’re leading. you’re going to take some punches. … You can’t be a leader leading from behind.” Read more here.

COOPER WANTS DELAY IN REDISTRICTING LAWSUIT: North Carolina’s attorney general and other lawyers representing the governor and members of the State Board of Elections are trying to slow down or halt a federal lawsuit challenging current congressional and legislative districts as racial gerrymanders. Read more here.

QUICK HEADLINES ---

Gov. Pat McCrory says he’s pleased with winter storm response. Read more here.

Teacher writes op-ed titled: Only in NC could a possible pay raise become a nightmare for a teacher. Read it here.

National report touts now-defunct public financing for judicial campaigns. Read more here.

N.C. Health News: More on the top dollar Medicaid contracts to consultants. Read more here.

N.C. agencies say they’ll spend what they have to on storm cleanup. Read more here.

I-77 toll lane project on track to start in fall. Read more here.

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