Morning Memo: Environmental groups jump to Hagan’s defense

Posted by John Frank and Craig Jarvis on March 25, 2014 

Another round of TV ads promoting environmental concerns launches in North Carolina this week – this one supporting U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

The North Carolina Democrat, who is in a tough fight for re-election, is the beneficiary of a multimillion-dollar TV and digital ad campaign, along with Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, and Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Indiana.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is orchestrating the campaign, along with other environmental organizations. It began Monday and in North Carolina is focused in three media markets.

The Wall Street Journal and The Hill reported the campaign is spending more than $5 million, and that they’re pushing back against Americans for Prosperity ads attacking the trio of incumbents. More details about the North Carolina buy were not available.

“Who’s behind the attacks on Kay Hagan,” the 30-second spot starts. “Oil industry billionaires, that’s who.”

The ad credits Hagan with working to stop polluters and the kicker asks those watching to “thank Sen. Hagan for fighting for common sense air quality protections.”

A related organizing effort will spread across North Carolina and 10 others states: Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana and Iowa.

The message is to thank Hagan and the others for standing up to “big polluters.”

The campaign will be supported by Environment America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund and others.

*** To see the new ad, scroll to the bottom. But don’t miss the North Carolina political headlines in between, all in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory did not issue a public calendar for Tuesday.

The attention at the legislative building Tuesday will focus on the health and human services oversight committee, which meets at 10 a.m. in room 643 LOB.

Also on the calendar: A committee of the child fatality task force meets at 10 a.m. in room 1027 of the legislative building. And the House committee on funeral and cemetery regulation meets at 2 p.m in Greenville at the Pitt Community College.

SUPREME COURT: Much attention will focus on Washington, where the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a major case relating to the federal health care law’s coverage of contraception. Planned Parenthood NC is sending a busload of advocates to rally for the law outside the court.

“Birth control is basic health care for women,” said Paige Johnson, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Central NC. “Medical decisions should be left up to a woman and her doctor, and no employer or politician should be able to interfere with those personal decisions.” More on the case here.

McCRORY STATESVILLE APPEARANCE PROTESTED: Until Monday, Iona Grant had never attended a protest rally in her 102 years. But the Statesville woman felt compelled to join about 250 others from across the state who gathered outside the Statesville Civic Center to protest policies endorsed by Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

“They’re hurting the poor,” Grant said an hour before McCrory was scheduled to address the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards dinner inside the civic center. McCrory was delayed, police said, and did not arrive before the end of the two-hour rally.

Speaking at the awards dinner, McCrory acknowledged the protesters but said he disagrees with their stance. He told attendees that his administration is working toward what’s best for everyone in the state, Mitchell Community College President Tim Brewer said. Read more here.

TILLIS ANNOUNCES COALITION OF WOMEN: Republican Thom Tillis’ Senate campaign released a list of supporters who are helping him reach out to women voters. The list includes Maria Luddy, Willa Kane, Maria Susan Fulghum, Jeanne J. Smoot, Hannah Salem, Kristen Laster, Betsy Gray Barrus, Nan Dupree Miller, Blanche Robertson Bacon, Beth Southern and Blake Simpson Frick.

A number of those names are familiar. Luddy is the wife of Bob Luddy, a prominent conservative donor and school choice advocate. Fulghum’s husband is a state lawmaker. And Laster is a lobbyist in Raleigh.

BULLETIN: A Wake County judge has ruled against the state employees association, allowing a lawsuit from Lt. Gov. Dan Forest against the group’s political action committee to continue. Forest is suing EMPAC for improper campaign commercial disclosures relating to his 2012 campaign in which the group ran ads attacking him and supporting his opponent, Democrat Linda Coleman.

EMPAC filed a motion to dismiss the case but it was denied, meaning the case will go forward even though Republican lawmakers repealed the “stand by your ad” law that is the basis for the lawsuit.

NEWS BLIP: U.S. Senate candidate Mark Harris’ campaign announced Monday that he raised more than $100,000 from a fundraiser in Raleigh featuring Mike Huckabee.

HEATHER GRANT RETWEET REFERS TO OBAMA AS PUTIN ‘BITCH’: The Sunlight Foundation’s “Politiwoops” feature look at tweets deleted by politicians. It found the account for Heather Grant, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, deleted a retweet of a message saying: “Vladimir #Putin Sure Is A Ladies Man... #tcot #SorryNotSorry” that linked to an image of pictures of “his wife,” “his ex-wife” and Obama, who was labeled as “his bitch.”

The retweet – posted Thursday – was deleted in 28 seconds. See it here.

WATCHDOG SUGGESTS HAGAN, TILLIS LINK TO OUTSIDE GROUPS IS TOO COZY: From Huffington Post – Campaign finance watchdogs are calling foul on a “dark money” nonprofit’s use of b-roll footage posted by the campaign of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the nonprofit’s own independent advertising.

Watchdog groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center sent a letter on Friday to the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a nonprofit supporting McConnell’s reelection, alleging that its use of footage shot by the McConnell campaign constitutes an illegal corporate contribution and is a violation of election laws that ban coordination between candidates and independent groups. ...

The b-roll footage in question, which shows the Kentucky senator smiling, walking with constituents and sitting with his wife, was posted by the McConnell campaign to its public YouTube page for the purpose of outside groups like the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition using it in their advertisements. Other campaigns, including those of Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and her potential Republican opponent Thom Tillis, have also employed this tactic. Read more here.

WAKE COUNTY LOOKS FOR ALTERNATIVE TO NEW TEACHER TENURE LAW: Wake County school leaders are developing an alternative model for paying teachers that they hope will persuade state leaders to abandon offering bonuses to some teachers to encourage them to give up their tenure rights.

Under a new state law, school districts have until the end of June to offer contracts with $500-a-year bonuses to 25 percent of their teachers to entice those educators to give up their tenure status. Wake school leaders say they’ll have a proposal for the General Assembly when it reconvenes in May that they’ll offer as a replacement to the new contracts. Read more here.

BUZZWORD: It’s not the “Carolina Comeback,” U.S. Rep. David Price says, it’s the “Carolina Catastrophe.” Read his op-ed here.

LAWYER HAS PAST TIES TO DUKE ENERGY: The lawyer hired to represent North Carolina’s environmental agency during a federal investigation into its regulation of Duke Energy’s coal ash dumps once represented the utility company in a different criminal probe.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has hired Mark T. Calloway of Charlotte to help respond to 20 grand jury subpoenas the agency and its employees have received after the Feb. 2 spill at Duke’s Eden plant, which coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge. Duke has been issued at least two subpoenas as part of that investigation.

The state agency’s chief lawyer said Monday that he saw no conflict of interest in Calloway’s past representation of Duke, the nation’s largest electricity company.

“As far as the rules of professional conduct and the State Bar ethics rules that govern attorney conflict, it doesn’t sound like an obvious violation,” said Eric Fink, and associate professor at Elon University School of Law. “But for a reasonable person looking at this, it would raise eyebrows.” Read more here.

A LOOK AT THE 12TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT RACE:

George Battle III doesn’t buy the argument. How can a man who’s never held public office, they say, run for Congress against candidates with years of elected experience?

“We don’t need to keep electing the same people and sending them to different places,” Battle says. “Just because you’ve been somewhere for a long time doesn’t entitle you to be somewhere else.” Read more here.

Colorful hats aren’t the only thing that make Alma Adams stand out in her race for Congress: She’s the only woman running against six men. “It certainly sets me apart,” she says. “But I want people to look at the work I’ve done and what I will do.” Read more here.

PERSONNEL FILE: AARP of North Carolina recently named a new president: Southern Shores resident Robert Palombo. He is a retired educator from Virginia.

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