Thursday News: Feet to the fire


AD BLITZ GOES AFTER GEORGE HOLDING FOR HEALTHCARE VOTES: The midterm election is still almost four months off, but a television ad war has already started between Republican 2nd District Congressman George Holding and an outside group over health care. Holding has spent nearly $200,000 dollars on ads since May to answer ads by a group called North Carolinians for a Fair Economy that criticize his votes on health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. "I think he's running scared. I think he's really feeling vulnerable," said Paula Wolf, who is with North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. Wolf wouldn't say who's funding the group, which has spent almost as much on ads as Holding. But she said the nonprofit, which can only advocate on issues and not endorse a particular candidate, is in compliance with all federal laws.

STUDENT PROTESTERS THREATENED WITH UNC'S NEW "FREE SPEECH" POLICY AT MEETING: As a UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees committee was briefed Wednesday on security for the upcoming academic year, about 20 protesters had other ideas for the $390,000 the university spends on safety around the Silent Sam Confederate monument. Occasionally, a protester would interject a question, being careful not to interrupt Derek Kemp, associate vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management, as he gave his report. Trustee Dwight Stone reminded the demonstrators about the new campus free speech policy required by state law. The policy, passed last year by the UNC system’s Board of Governors, calls for punishment – warning, suspension, even expulsion – for protesters who disrupt others at the state’s public universities. “You are not allowed to disrupt this meeting,” Stone said. “I don’t want to ask you to leave. You’ve been very respectful so far.”

3-MEMBER COMMISSION WILL MEET JULY 31 TO CREATE WORDING FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: The Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission meets July 31 to prepare official written summaries of referendum questions that will be made available to citizens. The summaries won't be on ballots, but separate short captions the panel writes for each of the six amendments will. The three-member commission is accepting proposed language for summaries and captions through July 25. Lawmakers submitted last month referenda addressing voter ID, judicial vacancies, crime victims' rights, board appointments, income tax rates and hunting and fishing. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall leads the commission. Attorney General Josh Stein and Legislative Building administrator Paul Coble are the other members.

SOME DEM CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES ACTIVELY OPPOSING NANCY PELOSI: “Paul Ryan’s not doing anything for working families, but we need new leadership on the Democratic side of things, too,” O’Connor says, as a headline from POLITICO emerges onscreen: “O’Connor ‘won’t support Pelosi,’” it reads, with the Pelosi section highlighted in yellow. In North Carolina, Democrats McCready and Kathy Manning of Greensboro have said they won’t back Pelosi. Manning, who has donated to Pelosi in the past, is challenging first-term Republican Rep. Ted Budd of Davie County in North Carolina’s 13th District, which includes Greensboro, High Point, Statesville and Salisbury. “I cannot vote for more of the same, and I cannot support Nancy Pelosi or Paul Ryan to lead Congress. We need fresh faces and bold ideas leading both parties,” Manning wrote in an Independence Day post on Medium.

MORE DETAILS EMERGE ON RUSSIAN WOMAN ARRESTED IN NRA SCANDAL: The woman, Maria Butina, was observed by the FBI dining privately with a Russian diplomat suspected of being an intelligence operative in the weeks before the envoy’s departure from the U.S. last March, prosecutors say. She also had contact information for people who investigators believe were employees of Russia’s Federal Security Services, or FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB. The allegations, made in court filings aimed at persuading a judge to keep Butina in custody, add to the portrait of a Russian woman who the Justice Department says worked covertly to establish back-channel lines of communication to the Kremlin and infiltrate U.S. political organizations, including the National Rifle Association, and gather intelligence for a senior Russian official to whom she reported. Prosecutors also alleged that she had a personal relationship with an American political operative and also offered sex to another person in exchange for a position with a special interest organization. Court papers do not name the individuals or the special interest group.



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