Monday, March 31, 2008

Sorry for no updates today...super busy with election planning and sitting in the Thomas Wright case.

I'll be there again tomorrow but hope to update the blog from the hearing!

Hope all is well!!
Bev Perdue proposes debate...

I'll put the full release below but I just wanted to point out that News 14 Carolina already proposed a debate in conjunction with Peace College and the NC Cable Association that would have aired statewide. We proposed the debate last fall and were denied earlier this year.

Here's her release this morning..

"In a letter to the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, Bev Perdue has challenged Richard Moore to a seventh debate. Perdue has asked the broadcasters’ association to oversee the process to ensure a statewide televised audience.

“After seeing the sleazy personal attacks in Richard Moore’s most recent ad, I want an opportunity to look him in the eye to confront him with the facts,” said Perdue.

“And because the debate is supposed to be about our ideas and our records, I call on Richard to release all of the public documents we have requested – documents that he has failed to provide for more than eight months. If we’re going to have a debate about our records, then it’s time for Richard Moore to come clean regarding the missing public records and the sweetheart deal he gave to State Insurance Services.”

Missing public records:

(* denotes documents first requested July 20, 2007)

Copies of the daily schedules and/or visitor logs for State Treasurer Richard Moore -from January 6, 2001 to the present.*
Travel and expense reimbursements (including copies of receipts) submitted by or paid to Richard Moore from January 6, 2001 to the present. *
Records of any state-owned or state-leased vehicles used by Richard Moore, including but not limited to mileage logs and accident reports from January 6, 2001 to the present*
unclaimed property contracts*
legal services contracts*
pr/lobbying contracts*
Letters declaring support or opposition to legislation*
Records regarding the contract awarded to State Insurance Services and any complaints that have been filed regarding policies sold by SIS "

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Clinton: North Carolina an "uphill climb"

I was fortunate to get a one on one with Sen. Clinton this afternoon. She said she never makes predictions but she says she does face an uphill climb in this state because of Obama's ground support in this state. That was her answer when I asked if NC was a must win.

She said her staff is still working on details of a debate in North Carolina but she hopes they will.

I also asked her what she thought about the possibility of her and Bev Perdue both breaking the female barrier. Clinton as the first female president and Perdue as the first female govennor. She had some interesting comments which you can see in my story tonight and on Political Connections Friday at 6 and Sunday at 11am. Perdue has endorsed Obama, by the way.

She also said she would love to have John Edwards' endorsement but she said when she had talked with them in "recent months" which makes me think they may not have talked recently. She said she respects their decision making whatever it may be. Yesterday, Sen. Obama said he was still actively seeking Edwards endorsement.
Hillary in Fayetteville,

I'm sitting in a high school gym in Cumberland County this afternoon waiting for Hillary Clinton. I'm hanging out here instead of Raleigh for a reason I'll write about later.

Anywho, we're still an hour or more away I'm guessing because of her tardiness in Raleigh. So far, I've seen State Sen. Julia Boseman who represents the 9th district. Cumblend County's sheriff Moose Butler is here but he was at Obama's event last week as well. I'll try to keep you posted on any other notables.

There's probably close to 1500 people already inside waiting. I think most know she is running late.

Cookies anyone? If you're keeping score on feeding the media it's 2-0 Clinton. I laugh to myself because they don't have to feed us and some might say they shouldn't. At Obama's events there was no media room with refreshments. Last Friday at Bill Clinton's event there was cookies and soda. At Hillary Clinton's event they let the media dig into the traveling press corp's food.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I had a Pepsi-with ice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chelsea Clinton coming to NC...

After Saturday the entire Clinton campaign will have visited North Carolina. I just got word that Chelsea Clinton will campaign on behalf of her mom at the Young Democrats of North Carolina Convention.

It's unclear if she will hold other events in the state but she will make at least that one appearance.

The Young Democrats is honoring John Edwards and James Carville (Clinton supporter as well) will appear too.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Gov's 21st Century Transportation committee is close to making final recommendations to the General Assembly. You'll remember the committee was formed last fall to find solutions to a growing crisis in the state.

Here's the crisis... sky rocketing costs to build roads, decreasing federal funding, decreasing gas tax revenues, and more people moving here means more congestion.

Estimates show the state could fall $65 billion or more short in funding projects over the next 25 years.

Chair Brad Wilson told me today that he expects the group to recommend gap funding for toll roads and to stop the transfers from the highway trust fund. He expects the final vote on April 24th.

The group will then work on long term solutions (funding in particular) this summer and fall to make recommendations by the end of the year.

An interesting tidbit with those recommendations. This Easley committee will report to a new governor and legislature in 09'. Some I spoke with say it could make a huge difference and create challenges but others say just about everyone is on board with the committee's work.
More on Bill Clinton visit...

So, after candidates, or a spouse in this case, give their speeches they walk to the crowd and shake hands, kiss babies, sign autographs, and pose for pictures.

Typically they allow the TV and still cameras to capture the moments up close. Friday, in Cary, we got down and tried to get the shot as normal but only still cameras were allowed.

I'm not sure why, but I wonder if it has to do with all the impromptu question and answer sessions that got President Clinton in trouble in January and early February?

It didn't really bother me that we couldn't move up and get the video but it is interesting why still cameras could go up there but not tv cameras.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hillary Clinton coming to NC...

I'm at a Bill Clinton event in Cary and he just said that Hillary Clinton will be coming to North Carolina and expects she will be here many days in the weeks ahead leading to the May 6th primary.

He also said he believes North Carolinians could make the difference in the election and could be a deciding state.

Most political experts would disagree but still it's an interesting comment considering reports are that Hillary Clinton has put little attention to the state believing it's not in play.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wright expelled...

There is great coverage all over the web regarding today's action by the House of Representatives, particularly Under the Dome, but I just wanted to add another observation.

Curiosity apparently got the best of the Senate as well. At least 10 Senators sat in the back of the House Chamber at one time or another. That included Majority Leader Tony Rand, Sen. Brock, and Sen. Jenkins among others.

Speaker Hackney said afterward that he didn't care if Wright's court case had moved forward or not. He says the legislative process is at least as important if not more important. Even if Wright is found innocent, Rep. Hackney says he doesn't regret one bit the decision made today.

Wright could still end up in office again too and as soon as next year. If he is found innocent in court and reelected on May Sixth, he will be back in office next January. However, Hackney did not rule out that there could be action by the House again if that happened.

Never a dull moment!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What a week for politics! Tomorrow, I'm headed to Fayetteville to cover Sen. Obama's "major" speech on Iraq. No doubt, the location was strategic with Fort Bragg. It says there will be military families there. I'm curious to see if any active duty members will be there. I can't imagine too many active duty soldiers going to an anti-war speech whether or not they believe in Obama's plan.

Then on Thursday, the House of Representatives could vote to kick out a member (Rep. Wright) for the first time since 1880! Yes that's an eight not a nine!

The Legislative Black Caucus is meeting tomorrow and supposedly Rep. Wright is on their agenda. There have been reports some members want to ask their colleagues to vote for censure instead of kicking him out of office. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

We do know the plans are to wrap this up in one day Thursday. Friday's a state holiday and members don't want to drag this out any longer than necessary. By the way only a simple majority vote is needed.
Update on Obama..

Here's the info I 12:30, Amy Brundage from the Obama campaign said it would be a public speech.

Speech on Iraq and National Security
Tony Rand Student Center
Fayetteville Technical Community College
2201 Hull Road
Fayetteville, NC

It is not a private meeting but is an invitation only event according to the community college
The Chair of the Cumberland County Democratic Party is reporting on their website that Obama will only be heading to Fayetteville for a private meeting Wednesday morning.

At 12:30 this afternoon Amy Brundage, a spokesperson for Obama, told us by phone that is NOT true. She said they are misinformed and there WILL be a public event.

Whether that happens or not I can't say, I can only say what they are telling us.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

No Moore bus trips..

On the way out of a press conference held by Richard Moore, I asked him several questions about the campaign.

He says he's already traveling the state and invited us to go with him in the northeast part of the state on Friday, but as his campaign trips ramp up he says he will not get one of those buses you often see and head from county to county. He said it will be more event driven rather than taking bus tour.

Candidates often like to take those 100 county bus tours. Sen. Fred Smith, on the GOP, is doing a BBQ tour across the counties, for example.
The North Carolina lottery had its highest one day sales total Wednesday since the first week in 2006. No doubt, a $238 million jackpot drove the sales (now $275 for Saturday's drawing since no one won).

Executive Director Tom Shaheen says he believes sales will be higher for the year than last as well.

Recently, lottery officials were able to increase prize payouts for scratch off tickets as well. Shaheen says there are weeks with sales over $20 million dollars. Before the payout changes sales were less than $9 million.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tim who?

I sometimes wish you could be in a newsroom when breaking news is unfolding. As you probably know, an arrest has been made in the Eve Carson murder. We're currently waiting for a news conference and there is also a standoff with another potential suspect in Durham.

As a political and statewide reporter, I don't typically cover local stories that can only air in one market or another. Therefore, crimes like this are usually not in my hands. Today, I did a drought follow story from Easley's news conference Tuesday. It focused on tiered water pricing. If you're interested in seeing it, check out

The entire newsroom has been in a tizzy all day waiting for a news conference. Usually there's yelling by a minimum of three people all the way across our newsroom. Typically, at least one person is running and barely misses someone else as they turn a corner. The phones are ringing like crazy and producers are trying to make sense of it all. Our desk is calling five people at once trying to make sure reporters and photographers are in the right spot. When we get a suspects name it then becomes a treasure hunt through electronic public records, phone calls, myspace, and google to find out as much as possible.

I typically help out with the latter. Over the years, I've learned ways to get information about people using those tools.

It's good and bad for me. I mean who doesn't want to be involved in the big story of the day. On the other hand, I have plenty of "big" days and it's nice to just do my story and go home and no more worries.

It's kind of nice to just sit back and watch the chaos unravel. Don't get me wrong, I help if I can but generally too many hands in the cookie jar can cause a logjam too.

With that, I need to wrap up and get home to make dinner for the wife and watch our great coverage at home! It's a quiet end to the day for me on a crazy day for the station but don't worry with the election coming up there will be plenty of days when I'm the one running across the newsroom screaming out to people!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Easley's drought proposals made headlines all over the news outlets so I'm going to blog about something else. If you want to see my coverage of the drought check it out here.

I interviewed Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Mike Munger today for a show that will air next week. He says if he doesn't get the 2% required to keep the Libs on the ballot in 2012 without getting 100,000 signatures it "will be a disaster".

His goal is to get significantly more than that to show there are voters out there looking for a third choice.

He spoke about three major issues of his campaign. That included making sure a marriage amendment limiting same sex marriage never passes. He also wants to see a moratorium on capital punishment and a lift on the cap for charter schools.

The show with his interview will air on the 21st.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Monday!

I just wrapped up my story and desperately need to pay attention to a little planning. I don't know if you heard but there's this primary election coming up. It has some big state races and, by the way, now includes an unresolved Democratic Presidential primary. Last week I was stuck in the Wright hearings and got nothing done.

Anywho, I wanted to make you aware that News 14 Carolina aired Lt. Gov. and GOP gubernatorial debates this weekend. They should be on Carolina Ondemand (Ch. 1234) by Wednesday. In the meantime if you want to see it head to the address below at to see it on the web!

Click here to watch the debates!

Friday, March 07, 2008

I'm working on a million things today so I don't have a ton of time to add much new here after being caught in the Wright ethics hearing all week.

A few things..

Friday 6pm - Political Connections - GOP Lt. Gov. Race
Sunday 11am - Special Political Connections - Dem. Lt. Gov. debate taped last night
Sunday 1pm - Special Political Connections - Airing GOP Governor's race debate in Meck. Co.

Still working on a few Wright things as's my piece from today. Have a great weekend! I have to work tomorrow but will be done in just enough time to get a nap and watch the big game!!!

RALEIGH -- For the first time in more than 120 years lawmakers could kick out one of their own.

Thursday, a House ethics panel voted to remove Representative Thomas Wright from office. This comes after former House Speaker Jim Black pleaded guilty to corruption charges last year. So, is this the beginning of the end for public corruption cases?

After thE committee found the Wilmington Democrat guilty on six counts of ethical misconduct, he walked out and spoke out.

"So woe onto my colleagues because this will just come back to bite them squarely where they sit," Rep. Wright said. "How dare they pass judgement on me not knowing the facts but drawing conclusions."

The controversy surrounds allegations that Wright misused more than $350,000 in campaign donations, charitable donations, and loans.

That includes not reporting thousands of dollars in campaign cash. Wright maintains it was sloppy bookkeeping and he believes he's not alone.

"What make an example out of me?" Wright added. "Let the show begin because this is just the beginning. They've set the precedent."

But is it a precedent of further problems that exist or is this the end of an era of public corruption?

"So I think we're still seeing what happened in the state legislature six years ago in the Jim Black era," Chris Fitzsimon from NC Policy Watch said. "I'm not sure we've seen everything but I feel relatively sure that we're not seeing that kind of thing going on now."

Thomas Wright's political future it rests in the hands of the House of Representatives. Lawmakers must decide to keep wright or kick him out of office. At least some of the leadership is hoping to wait until a March 31st criminal trial for Thomas Wright ends, because if he's found guilty he can not serve in the legislature as a convicted felon.

He has filed for re-election but faces two opponents in the May sixth primary. This year's legislative session starts on may 13th.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Rep. Wright to committee "How dare they"

A legislative ethics committee has found Rep. Thomas Wright guilty on six out of seven counts of unethical conduct.

It has also voted to recommend kicking him out of office. Rep. Wright left before even finding that part out. Before he left though he spoke out. To see that click on the following link.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wild Wright scenario..

So, Rep. Thomas Wright is facing his ethics hearing this week that could result in the long run in his dismissal as a lawmaker. It stems from an alleged misuse in $350,000+ in campaign donations, charitable donations, and loans.

Even if Wright is kicked out there is a scenario where he could be back in his lawmakers chair in 2009.

Let's say Rep. Wright is kicked out of the state House. For argument sake, let's say his criminal case is pushed back past May 6. He has filed and will be on the ballot for re-election. Speaker Hackney's office says his removal only counts for the current session. That means if he won his primary and went on to win the general election he could be back in office in 2009.

Of course, in the meantime he could be convicted in criminal court. That would mean he's out of office for good because a convicted felon cannot serve in state office.

Still, crazier things have happened!

I also found out today that Gov. Easley will not be unveiling his extensive drought legislation plan at tomorrow's Drought Management Advisory Council meeting. You may remember a couple weeks ago, Easley aide Franklin Freeman said he might propose the changes at tomorrow's meeting. The proposals will include more oversight of private wells, a statewide mandatory drought water restriction plan, and more extensive emergency powers for the Governor.

Perhaps the proposal was moved back since Easley is taking so much heat this week?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

RALEIGH -- Race once again took center stage at Representative Thomas Wright's legislative ethics hearing.

The hearing could result in his removal from public office. It stems from felony fraud and obstruction of justice charges Wright faces in criminal court.
His attorneys believe he's being treated differently because he's black.

Wright's attorneys targeted the ethics committee chairman, asking him to step down from his position. They are upset that an ethics complaint against a white lawmaker was dropped while Wright's case is moving forward.

"It will be something talked about for years," Wright's attorney Doug Harris said. "People will say look what they did to that black man who got into a position of power from New Hanover County. Look at what they did to him and how nothing happened to his counterpart who is white."

Attorneys representing the state argue that wright faces criminal charges while the other lawmaker did not.

"All this is is a bold allegation about race without any facts to support it," William Hart from the NC Attorney General's office said.

After listening to arguments the committee chairman sent a strong message to Representative Wright and his attorneys.

"I find in this case of this motion was patently without a good faith basis in law and fact and is in my opinion below the indignity of those who raise it," Committee chairman Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) said. "I deny the motion as frivolous, groundless, and meritless.

Wright's accused of misusing more than $350,000 in campaign donations, charitable donations, and loans. Wright maintains it was sloppy bookkeeping.

This committee must decide to take no further action or recommend removing wright from public office. The hearing could go into Thursday.

Wright's criminal trial is now scheduled for March 31st. He has filed for re-election and faces two opponents in the Democratic primary.

Monday, March 03, 2008

RALEIGH -- Representative Thomas Wright's attorneys believe race is behind a hearing that could lead to his removal from office.

Criminal charges for fraud and obstruction of justice are the basis for the legislative ethics hearing that started Monday. Wrights attorneys were blunt and bold in their accusation of racial bias. They point to a 2007 ethics complaint against a white lawmaker that was dismissed without a hearing. With Wright facing this public hearing, they believe he's being treated differently.

"I find it ironic that Rep. Wright represents New Hanover County, Wrightsville, which is the very place of the 1898 race riot took place which began the Jim Crow era and this is a Jim Crow proceeding if he gets treated differently," Wright attorney Doug Harris said.

This hearing stems from felony fraud and obstruction of justice charges Wright faces in criminal court. Investigators believe he misused more than $350,000 in campaign donations, loans, and charitable donations.

"That between the years between 2000-2006, Representative Thomas wright engaged in a pattern of improper, unethical, and criminal conduct while a legislator in this General Assembly," William Hart from the NC Attorney General's office said.

Wright maintains it was simply sloppy bookkeeping. Last week a judge granted a delay in his criminal case and his attorneys consistently pushed for the same during Monday's ethics hearing.

"There has not been adequate time for myself, or Mr. Joyner, for Tom Wright to go over these matters to form an adequate and as the chairman has noted we don't in fact have a defense is noted," Harris added.

His motions were denied but the committee did agree to accept a written argument on the racial bias. In between the arguments several witnesses did take the stand. Testimony will continue Tuesday morning.

At the end of this hearing, the committee can either take no further action or recommend to the full state House to remove him from office. A lawmaker has not been removed from office since 1880.

Wright's criminal trial is now scheduled for March 31st. He has filed for re-election and faces two opponents in the Democratic primary.