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New Court Documents Reveal Republican Establishment’s Plans to “Reinvent the Gerrymander” with focus on North Carolina

At the 2009 Republican Legislative Campaign Committee’s national meeting, Thomas Hofeller (yes, that name sounds familiar) presented the strategy Republicans would use to boost wins in 2010 and beyond, according to recently released court documents.

Hofeller’s June 2009 presentation, “2010 Redistricting: Preparing for Success,” explains why Republicans dominate the NCGA with a seemingly impenetrable super majority. The GOP’s strategy to “reinvent the gerrymander” was successful in North Carolina.

By December 2009 the presentation included the Republican State Leadership Committee’s plans to bankroll 2010 legislative races in North Carolina, $95,000 in the House and $234,000 in the Senate. Winning key races would allow RSLC to implement its REDMAP strategy across the U.S.

(Source: Greg Flynn; Salon)

The REDMAP plan gives key insight into how Republicans have maintained control of the N.C. General Assembly. Art Pope put forth his own money for REDMAP, and RSLC sent $1.25 million to Pope’s network to elect Republicans in 2010. Pope spent around $2.2 million to accomplish that goal. 

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PRESS RELEASE: Real Facts NC disavows "NC Strong" efforts by Brad Crone, Campaign Connections, et al. - exploring appropriate legal action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
We recently learned of a Republican independent expenditure effort in support of Rep. Nelson Dollar under the name NC Strong.
 
This is the same name as a 501(c)4 we formed that is in no way affiliated with Mr. Crone, anyone listed in his presentation, or this legally questionable effort.
 
"We are exploring appropriate legal action against the organizers of this effort to stop use of the NC Strong name," said Daniel Gilligan, organizer of NC Strong 501(c)4.
 
From Wednesday’s News & Observer: “Brad Crone, president of Campaign Connections in Raleigh, for working with a campaign that aims to help Republican state Rep. Nelson Dollar of Cary. The statement cites a document describing a nonprofit called NC STRONG, and listing Crone as a general consultant and main contact person for the group. Contributions to the group won’t be disclosed to the public, according to the document.”
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Legislator Profile: Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg)

In this Real Facts Legislator Profile, we focus on Representative Bill Brawley, a Republican from House District 103, first elected to the General Assembly in 2010. Brawley moved to Matthews, N.C. in 1982 and was a Matthews town commissioner from 1989 to 1993. 

Brawley is a real estate broker. As a legislator, he supported bills that favor the real estate business over the public. Read more on Brawley here

Summary:

Brawley proudly supports private school vouchers that siphon money from our public school system

  • He sponsored a bill that lets Matthews-Mint Hill areas create their own charter school districts, a move CMS said would re-segregate Mecklenburg County.
  • Brawley voted for the 2017 Republican budget that Republican budget allocated $45 million to the controversial school voucher program

“I will tell you I’m disappointed in the quality of the education my kids received,” --Brawley said of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. (Charlotte Observer, 1/5/18)

Brawley is a real estate broker. As a legislator, he supported bills that favor the business over people, putting renters and the public at risk.

  • He sponsored a bill to make it more difficult for towns to inspect residential properties for unsafe conditions.
  • Bill Brawley tried to kill rental housing inspection programs designed to hold landlords accountable and dissuade them from renting to people prone to commit crime and keep neighborhoods safer.
  • In what appears to be a conflict of interest, Bill Brawley, a commercial real estate broker, inserted language into a bill “pushed by the N.C. Association of Realtors” to “expand real estate agents’ ability to perform market analyses of properties.”
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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Ted Davis, Jr. (R-New Hanover)

In this Real Facts Legislator Profile, we focus on Ted Davis Jr., the Republican representative from House District 19. Before his 2012 election to the General Assembly, Davis served on the New Hanover Board of County Commissioners for 16 years. Davis claimed to be a “lifelong Democrat” before crossing party lines after being approached by the Republican Party to run for County Commissioner back in 1996. Davis ran unopposed in 2016.

Davis currently serves on seven legislative committees. He serves as chair of Appropriations on Justice and Public Safety Committee and Judiciary Committee I and vice chair of Appropriations Committee and Committee of Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House. He is also a member of the Commerce and Job Development, Education- Universities and Elections and Ethics Law Committees. More recently, he was named Senior Chairman of the House Select Committee on River Water Quality, formed in late 2017 to address the GenX issue. Read more on Davis here.

“All I know is that we’re doing something” –Rep. Ted Davis on GenX bill. (WRAL, 1/10/18)

Summary

Davis, whose district is specifically affected by GenX contamination, was named Senior Chairman of the House Select Committee on River Water Quality. Yet he was reluctant to add funding to the DEQ and voted for a budget which decreased appropriations to the Clean Water Management Trust.

  • Davis was reluctant to add funding to a bill that would direct DEQ to analyze statewide emerging contaminants in surface, groundwater, and drinking water
  • Davis voted for the 2017 budget, which decreased funding to the already underfunded Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

Davis was a primary sponsor of HB2, a discriminatory bill that cost NC upward of $630 million. He also supported follow-up “compromise bills” that would have put civil rights on the ballot by making nondiscrimination ordinances subject to referendum.

  • Davis claimed that any civil rights grievances filed following the bathroom bill were “unintended consequences”
  • HB186 repealed HB2 but limited the ability of local governments to pass nondiscrimination ordinances.

Davis voted for the 2017 budget which prioritized tax cuts over funding education and has reinforced the idea that NC is paying its teachers enough despite NC falling below average on teacher and student spending.and students.

  • Davis voted for a budget that fails to meaningfully raise teacher salaries.
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"You've held up very well" Sen. Tillman uses Question Time to Remark on Appearance of Woman Presenter in Education Committee Meeting

A brief yet fraught moment during the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee joined the ongoing drumbeat of instances of sexual harassment in the workplace.  

The committee meeting began with a presentation from “Schools that Lead,” a professional development opportunity for teachers. Three women presenters from the program offered their thoughts on student-centered approaches, data, and solving problems in the classroom. They then fielded an increasingly long list of questions and comments from legislators.

Yet despite the time constraints, one male legislator could not help but widen the scope of his question (more like an unsolicited comment) beyond programmatic details. Senator Tillman (R- Moore, Randolph) instead opted to use his question time to comment on the presenters’ appearance.

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These 39 Republicans said they thought judges should be elected, rulings against their unconstitutional laws might have changed that

In 2012 Civitas asked candidates for office in NC if judges should continue to be elected by the voters. (2012 was the last time Civitas posted a survey.)

The answer from those that filled it out was a resounding yes.

27 current Republican members of the House said they agreed with the statement “Judges should continue to be elected by the voters.”

This included members such as Chris Malone, Debra Conrad, Ted Davis, and Jonathan Jordan.

Despite the widespread support for Judicial elections amongst the Republican caucus, rumors and even threats swirl that the Republican majorities in the legislature are considering moving to a legislative appointment process in the wake of several legal losses.

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Video: Superintendent Mark Johnson still doesn't get it on teacher pay comments, NC deserves more leadership and less whining

According to the News & Observer, State Superintendent Mark Johnson described the base starting salary of $35,000 for teachers was “good money” and “a lot of money” for people in their mid-20s. Johnson’s comments were criticized by some school board members for failing to reflect all of the challenges faced by teachers. In tuesday’s Council of State meeting, Johnson doubled down on his comments.

Johnson likes to tout his classroom experience, having spent two years in the classroom, two on a local school board, and having just finished his first year as Superinendent. With those 5 years of experience in public education, if he were still on the teacher pay scale he’d be making $38,300 – less than a third of the $127,561 he currently makes with the same amount of experience in public education as an elected official.

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Legislator Profile: John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg)

In this Real Facts Legislator Profile, we focus on Representative John Bradford, the Republican from House District 98. Before joining the General Assembly, Bradford was elected to the Cornelius Town Board in 2011. While there, he sought to cancel elections and have the town board elected every three years instead of two.  

Bradford was one of the co-sponsors of HB2. One year later, he co-sponsored a failed HB2 repeal bill that would make local anti-discrimination measures subject to a public referendum.

 “I voted to restore common sense regulations for North Carolina citizen’s rights to privacy in bathrooms and changing facilities.” – Rep. John Bradford, after voting for HB2 (The Herald Weekly, 03/31/16; The Southern Pines Pilot, 05/21/16)

Bradford has shown time and again that he believes tax cuts are more important than public education. Bradford said, “spending more in education will not magically solve the problems we are facing” and “we need to continue holding everyone accountable and find ways to cut bureaucratic and unnecessary expenses that we incur outside the classroom.” He voted for the 2017 Republican budget that continues the trend of cutting taxes for the wealth few rather than raising per pupil spending. Bradford said “we need to financially reward our best and brightest educators” but voted for the Republican budget that gives beginning teachers no raise, and only a 0.6 percent raise to experienced teachers and per pupil spending has actually gone down in the budgets he voted on. Read more on Bradford here

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“Just Arbitrary:” New Maps Surface at Joint Committee on Judicial Redistricting and Reform

Yesterday’s three-and-a-half hour meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting produced a new round of maps, a few heated exchanges, and no actual vote.

The meeting began innocuously enough; Brad Fowler from the Associated Office of the Courts (AOC) presented workload formulas for judicial officials, followed by almost two hours of questions from legislators.

Of course, the main event was yet to come: a battle over another set of new maps. New prosecutorial, district, and superior court divisions reading “Option A” were passed out during a short break about two hours into the meeting.

After introducing the new maps, Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) fielded questions from incredulous Democratic legislators who attempted to pin down the exact criteria used to redraw the districts. Exchanges between Burr and Democratic legislators became more heated; Sens Blue and McKissick repeatedly asked if there was a guiding criteria or rationale for drawing these maps other than “just arbitrary.” Burr recited his mantra that he was attempting to correct population imbalances and that he had met with judicial officials who wanted a map that was more in line with their existing districts.

Sen. McKissick, however, continued to push. Asking for a document that summarizes data of criteria, Burr pointed him to the website. However, McKissick responded that no written document exists there.

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Southern Coalition for Social Justice Analysis: Racial and partisan bias found in judicial redistricting plans

Southern Coalition for Social Justice released an analysis documenting some of the racial and partisan biases "infecting" the most recent judicial redistricting plan presented to the General Assembly in December 2017. Alison Riggs, SCJS's senior voting rights attorney described the key problem with the judicial districts, the "huge" variation in the number of residents per judge across the state. 

"with a consistent pattern of too many people per judge in our urban areas will likely result in people of color disproportionately having less access to our justice system,” said Riggs.

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