JUNIOR BERGER FAILED TO DISCLOSE INTERNET GAMBLING DONORS: A campaign finance complaint filed against N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger Jr. says he failed to disclose who paid for food, drinks and other expenses at his 2016 campaign fundraisers. The complaint also says Berger — whose father is Senate leader Phil Berger — listed two donors as alpaca farmers instead of gambling business owners, and that several of the people listed as donors in his disclosure reports say they didn’t contribute. Hall’s complaint alleges that while serving as DA, Berger told police to “hold off” going after the (gambling) parlors. Berger was not the DA at the time of the campaign donation and was serving as an administrative law judge during his 2016 campaign. After retiring from Democracy NC, Hall now describes himself as an “independent campaign finance watchdog” and said he expects to file other complaints with the elections board this year.
3RD MAJOR HOG NUISANCE LAWSUIT EXPOSES MORE NASTY CONDITIONS: So far, neighbors are 2-0, winning a pair of multimillion-dollar verdicts against the Chinese-owned pork giant, though those amounts will come down significantly due to a state cap on punitive damages. The losses have the industry and area farmers who contract with Smithfield spooked. The General Assembly passed legislation within the last few months to make this sort of lawsuit less likely – and harder to win. It was the second time legislators changed the law in a year. Efforts to make the law retroactive and affect the pending lawsuits fell flat. This trial has seen evidence of DNA markers showing pig feces settled on nearby homes. Smithfield's legal team has raised chain of custody issues with those results. Researcher Shane Rogers, testifying this week, said he's satisfied the results are clear. "There's a lot of feces in the air," Rogers said.
GUN NUTS TO RALLY IN HILLSBOROUGH SATURDAY: The rally will take place not far from the Eno River Farmers Market, which opens at 8 a.m. and is a gun-free zone. Numerous people, including state and congressional candidates, will speak. Organizers have also invited Mark Robinson of Greensboro to speak. Robinson delivered a passionate speech to the Greensboro City Council in April about gun ownership. It went viral among gun-rights advocacy groups. Speakers from Grass Roots North Carolina, which bills itself as “North Carolina’s only ‘no-compromise’ gun rights organization,” also are on the program. Grass Roots NC is a registered 501(c)(4) organization and can’t endorse candidates. But its political action committee, Grass Roots NC Political Victory Fund, recently recommended state House candidate Russell Walker in the race for the seat in District 48. Walker has been accused of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS BLOCK SUBPOENA OF TRUMP-PUTIN TRANSLATOR: Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have blocked a move to subpoena the American translator from the Helsinki summit to testify about the private talks between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The panel's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, said Thursday he wanted the translator, who works for the State Department, to appear in closed session, saying Congress must "find out what was said" during the two-hour meeting. "It is incumbent on us, given what the president said publicly that was of such great concern to our country, to our NATO allies, that we find out what was said privately," Schiff said. The California lawmaker said he realizes it's an "extraordinary" step to subpoena the interpreter, but added it's also extraordinary for the president to meet alone with a U.S. adversary.
TRUMP INVITES PUTIN TO WHITE HOUSE, RUSSIA WANTS SUSPECTED SPY RETURNED: Moscow is ready to discuss a possible visit by President Vladimir Putin to Washington after a surprise invitation from President Donald Trump, Russia's ambassador to the U.S. said Friday. The Russian ambassador to Washington also denounced "anti-Russian anger" in the United States and reiterated denials of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election — interrupting a questioner to say "We didn't interfere!" Meanwhile, Antonov also pushed for the release of a gun rights activist accused of being a covert agent in the U.S., calling her arrest a "farce." U.S. federal prosecutors accused Maria Butina this week of being a covert Russian agent and working to infiltrate U.S. political organizations, including the National Rifle Association, before and after Donald Trump's election as president. Butina, 29, denies wrongdoing, and the Russian Foreign Ministry started an online campaign for her release.