REP. DAVID LEWIS ANNOUNCES ABRUPT RETIREMENT: One of the most powerful Republicans in the state legislature announced Friday he’s retiring from public office, just months before he was set to run for re-election this November. Harnett County Rep. David Lewis has been a state lawmaker since 2003. He said he plans to serve out the rest of his term this year, but then wants to spend more time with his family. “I love my wife and kids and I recognize that their sacrifice has been measurably greater than my own, because they really didn’t have a say in when Dad was coming home,” Lewis wrote in his retirement announcement. A farmer from Dunn, he’s best known to the public for his role in election law changes, specifically on voter ID and redistricting bills.
NC GOP IS FORCED TO REDACT TRUMP ATTACK ON CAMPAIGN MAILER: A party mailer addressed this month to North Carolina conservatives includes a ballot request form and asks them to "request your absentee ballot today." It includes a seal-of-approval tweet from the president himself. Well, half a tweet. "Absentee Ballots are fine because you have to go through a precise process to get your voting privilege," the president wrote on July 10. But he also continued: "Not so with Mail-Ins. Rigged Election!!! 20% fraudulent ballots?" The state GOP included an image of the whole tweet on its mailer, but blurred out the the second part. The part suggesting a rigged election, a claim that has repeatedly been debunked. As of Friday, nearly 47,000 registered Democrats had asked the state for an absentee ballot, compared with 9,229 Republicans.
TILLIS AND CUNNINGHAM HAVE AGREED TO THREE SEPARATE DEBATES IN SEPTEMBER: Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham have agreed to debates on Sept. 14 on WRAL in Raleigh and on Sept. 22 on Nexstar and its affiliates, which includes stations in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Greenville. Additionally, both candidates have agreed to a September debate on Spectrum News, which covers much of the state — but the date has not been set. Cunningham said earlier this week that voters will base their voting decision on a number of factors, not just debates. “It’s one of a whole lot of ways, whole lot of ways, that the electorate will evaluate my candidacy and Thom Tillis’ candidacy and his time in office and the things that I’ve done,” Cunningham said. “It’s important, but it’s only one of a whole lot of different ways people are evaluating us.”
TRUMP PUTS DACA APPLICATIONS ON HOLD DESPITE COURT ORDERS: Trump administration officials said during a federal court hearing Friday that they have not “granted nor rejected” any applications for a program designed to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation, but rather have put them “on hold” as the government discusses the future of the program. The virtual hearing in the U.S. District Court in Maryland was the first time the administration addressed reports that the Department of Homeland Security was not accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — despite a recent Supreme Court ruling and a federal judge’s order requiring the government to resume accepting applications. “Although the applications will be received by the department, they will be neither granted nor rejected, and instead will be held, placed into a bucket pending a policy consideration that takes place and that now I can tell you is still ongoing at the department,” said Stephen Pezzi, a lawyer with the Justice Department. U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm, who ordered last week that the government comply with court directives to restore the DACA program, ruled Friday that the Trump administration must clarify the program’s status to the public within 30 days. He instructed Pezzi to confirm by next Friday whether the government could commit to updating its U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website and sending receipts to DACA applicants who are confused about whether their applications have been processed.
VACCINE COMPANY EXECS ARE MAKING MILLIONS ON STOCK TRADES DUE TO CORONA: They are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March, according to figures compiled for The New York Times by Equilar, a data provider. In some cases, company insiders are profiting from regularly scheduled compensation or automatic stock trades. But in other situations, senior officials appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out while their stock prices are sky high. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress. Moderna, a 10-year-old vaccine developer based in Cambridge, Mass., that has never brought a product to market, announced in late January that it was working on a coronavirus vaccine. It has issued a stream of news releases hailing its vaccine progress, and its stock has more than tripled, giving the company a market value of almost $30 billion. Moderna insiders have sold about $248 million of shares since that January announcement, most of it after the company was selected in April to receive federal funding to support its vaccine efforts.