A South Carolina-based Republican operative has launched a new super PAC called the North Carolina Golden Crescent Fund but its intentions remain unclear.
The organization, founded Feb. 25, is run by Norman Cummings, a longtime GOP hand who once worked for Lee Atwater and served as a consultant to a controversial super PAC called Citizens for a Working America.
Reached at his home in Beaufort, S.C., Cummings declined to describe his interest in North Carolina politics or the focus of his super PAC. The organization can solicit unlimited donations for independent efforts to promote candidates or issues. Federal Election Commission records offer no clues about the group’s funders or platform.
“Right now, we’re just getting established,” said Cummings, who is listed as the Golden Crescent Fund’s treasurer.
Pressed on his purpose, Cummings vaguely suggested the organization may not focus on the state’s marquee U.S. Senate race, saying “there is life outside the election.”
North Carolina, he added, “is “a place where a lot of stuff is going on.”
The only other name on the filing is Nicole Dimperio Howard of Huntersville, who is assistant treasurer. Howard is a registered Republican who gave $350 to former state Rep. Grey Mills, who lost a bid for lieutenant governor in 2012, according to state campaign finance records. Howard did not return a message left at her home.
Cummings worked for years in Virginia and on a controversial slot machine campaign in Ohio, according to a Huffington Post report that analyzed his other super PAC, Citizens for a Working America.
From the story: “For someone who has been in Republican politics for so long, Cummings is far from a national figure. Starting with the Ohio Republican Party, he worked his way up through the ranks to serve under famed operative Lee Atwater on George H.W. Bush's presidential campaign. From 1989-1992 he was political director and then chief of staff for the Republican National Committee and in 1992 he started the public affairs consulting firm, the Cummings Group.
“After that, the public record goes largely dark, until he and his wife Grace co-wrote a chapter for the 2004 book, "Campaigns and Elections American Style" in which described, in glowing terms, the "pervasive" need to raise money in politics.”
Cummings personal contributions to North Carolina candidates are limited. In 2000, he gave $4,000 to Democrat Richard Moore’s campaign for state treasurer, state records show.
The Citizens group has made plays in campaigns in Ohio, Tennessee and South Carolina, as well as the 2012 president race. In the South Carolina race, the group targeted Democratic U.S. Rep. John Spratt with $250,000 in TV ads.
In 2012, it announced it was going to back Rep. Michele Bachmann in the GOP primary for president but later contributed to Mitt Romney’s effort. Another Huffington Post report looked at the scrutiny the PAC received in 2010 for “questionable fundraising ... and the questionable political activities of its staff and funders.”
It is still active, FEC reports show, and lists the same Beaufort address as the Golden Crescent Fund. At the end of 2012, the Citizens group reported spending about $900,000.
The organization is named for the half-moon arching connection between the state’s three major areas, the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte.
*** An overflowing Dome Morning Memo is below with more headlines and analysis from North Carolina politics.***
The effort is designed to portray Tillis as the candidate who can deliver results and push back against his label as the establishment candidate.
But it also highlights his start in state politics in 2006 when he ousted conservative lawmaker John Rhodes in a GOP primary – a campaign under renewed scrutiny from some conservative activists, a population key to the primary and one that is skeptical of Tillis.
“He challenged a sitting Republican in the primary,” said Sharon Hudson, a tea party activist now seeking the same seat representing House District 98. “People have not forgotten that.”
In a recent interview, Morgan recalled his desire to see Rhodes defeated. “I talked to Thom in the early days,” Morgan said, “and offered my encouragement.”
“From that point on I thanked him profusely for getting rid of John Rhodes in the General Assembly, who was just a pain in the butt,” Morgan said.
Morgan “did not recruit Thom, he was not an ally and he was not involved at any level,” Tillis campaign manager Jordan Shaw said of the 2006 race.
Told of Morgan’s comments, Shaw later added: “Any encouragement that was given was not a factor in the speaker’s mind and certainly doesn’t constitute recruitment.” Read more here.
The decision helps defuse a political problem for Democrats in tough re-election battles this fall, especially for senators who in 2010 stood with President Barack Obama and voted to pass his health overhaul.
The extension was part of a major package of regulations that sets ground rules for 2015, the second year of government-subsidized health insurance markets under Obama's law — and the first year that larger employers will face a requirement to provide coverage. Read more here.
A toxic coal ash spill into the Dan River at the beginning of February from a Duke Energy site in Eden is causing concern miles downstream.
Danville resident Morris Lawson first discovered piles of dead mollusks at the Dan Daniel Memorial Park and reported it to river officials. “They’re laying everywhere,” he said. Lawson is the same man who found two dead turtles in the river several weeks ago. “This is going to get worse before it gets better,” he insisted. Read more here.
Next week, the state Division of Employment Security plans to start sending notices to newly unemployed workers informing them they have four weeks to present a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, at their local Division of Workforce Solutions. Both agencies are part of the state Department of Commerce.
The new photo ID requirement, which initially was targeted to begin Feb. 1 but was delayed, is aimed at preventing fraudulent claims from being filed by people who steal someone else’s identity. Read more here.
“We cannot make that commitment until we know the money is available.”
John McWilliam, a Raleigh attorney representing some of the demonstrators arrested June 12, said he issued subpoenas for N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Phil Berger to find out more about the enforcement of the building rules his clients had been accused of violating.
A lawyer from the office of Roy Cooper, the N.C. attorney general, successfully quashed the subpoenas for the Republicans at the helm of the state House and Senate. Read more here.
Ellmers: GOP’s Obamacare replacement may be multiple bills. Read more here.
Pittenger: “Let’s get Putin out of Russia” Read more here.
N.C. still trying to clear jobless backlog. Read more here.
New Democratic strategy goes after Koch brothers. Read more here.
McCrory says more changes to come in transportation. Read more here.
North Carolina leads South with drug overdose reform. Read more here.
N.C. may make it easier for students to pass state exams. Read more here.
Durham schools to join teacher tenure lawsuit. Read more here.