Friday News: Grifters gonna grift

MOORE AIDE GILLESPIE DREW SALARY FOR 8 MONTHS AFTER RETIRING: Last April, state lawmakers, legislative staff and lobbyists used Facebook and Twitter to wish Mitch Gillespie, a senior policy adviser for House Speaker Tim Moore, a happy retirement. But after Gillespie, 59, of McDowell County, left the legislature in April, he continued to receive his paycheck. All told, he collected $81,700 in pay, state records show, and then he reported he was owed another $12,400 in unused leave. Those records show his last day as an employee was Dec. 31, 2018. Today, Moore’s staff and the legislature’s human resources director are offering little explanation as to how an employee who worked full-time for about five years could accrue enough leave time to receive $94,100 after he stopped working. Lawmakers do not receive paid vacations and cannot accrue leave.

NAVY REFUSES TO PAY CLAIMS RELATED TO CAMP LEJEUNE TOXIC WATER: Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told reporters Thursday that at least 4,400 claims totaling $963 billion are being denied because there is no legal basis for paying them. He said it was a difficult decision but suggested that claimants could go to Capitol Hill to seek legislation providing restitution. The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated that as many as 900,000 service members were potentially exposed to tainted water at the Marine base between 1953 and 1987. Jerry Esnminger's daughter died in 1985. He lived at Camp Lejeune in the 1970s. For more than 20 years, he's been fighting for what he calls justice for his daughter and thousands of other military families. "The only avenue for relief and justice for her was to go through the courts," he said. Ensminger said the decision to deny the claims is a slap in the face. "We're working on legislation now to reinstate all of these claims," Ensminger said.

NOMINEES FOR NEW STATE ELECTIONS BOARD ARE IN: Missing from the Democrats' nominees is Josh Malcolm, the chairman of the previous board. Malcolm said Thursday he decided it was best for the board and for him that he not serve. Malcolm was vice chairman in November when he made the motion not to certify 9th District results, citing the investigation. The Republican Party has been criticizing Malcolm since. The Democrats' slate of nominees includes previous members of the recent nine-member board in Stella Anderson, Bob Cordle and Valerie Johnson, along with former Wake County election board member Greg Flynn. Republicans offered previous board member Stacy "Four" Eggers, along with Buck Newton, Francis De Luca and Eddie Woodhouse. Woodhouse also previously served on the Wake County board. Newton was the Republicans' 2016 nominee for attorney general. De Luca used to lead the conservative-leaning Civitas Institute in Raleigh.

TRUMP ADVISOR ROGER STONE ARRESTED ON OBSTRUCTION AND WITNESS TAMPERING CHARGES: Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, was arrested in the special counsel's Russia investigation in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home on Friday and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. The seven-count indictment against Stone, a self-proclaimed "dirty trickster," is the first criminal case in months from special counsel Robert Mueller. It provides the most detail to date about how Trump campaign associates were aware in the summer of 2016 that emails had been stolen from the Hillary Clinton campaign and wanted them released. It alleges that unnamed senior Trump campaign officials contacted Stone to ask when the stolen emails might be disclosed. The indictment does not charge Stone with conspiring with WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that published the emails, or with the Russian officers Mueller says hacked them. Instead, it accuses him of witness tampering, obstruction and false statements about his interactions related to WikiLeaks' release. Some of those false statements were made to the House intelligence committee, according to the indictment.

TRUMP WILL BLOCK ASYLUM SEEKERS AT SOUTHERN BORDER: The Trump administration said Thursday that it would start blocking a small number of asylum seekers from entering the United States from Mexico, using the San Ysidro border crossing near San Diego as the first location to turn back immigrants applying for refugee status. The policy to block asylum seekers was first announced last month by Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It will gradually be expanded over the next two weeks at border crossings with heavy foot traffic in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, according to a senior United States official briefed on the move, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Immigrants rights groups are expected to challenge the move in court, and they are likely to argue that forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexican border cities puts them at greater risk in a region known for its high murder rates.