Thursday News: Pay to play, on steroids


MORE DIRTY DETAILS EMERGE ABOUT TIM MOORE'S CHICKEN PLANT DEAL: "There's a smoking-gun email that shows that Tim Moore's staff person got the Department of Environmental Quality to fast-track a reclassification of this property," Hall said. "[Cameron] gets tax breaks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars when you reclassify the land [and] put it in the brownfields program." Following the sale, just before the 2016 election, large campaign checks from Cameron started rolling in: $100,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party. $25,000 to Moore's House Republican caucus. $500,000 to a political-action committee supporting then-Gov. Pat McCrory. Shortly before McCrory left office, a state agency awarded Mountaire a $1.5 million grant for a wastewater system for the Siler City plant.

WALTER JONES' LEAVE FROM CONGRESS EXTENDED AFTER BREAKING HIP: Jones, who turns 76 in February, underwent successful surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville on Tuesday, according to his congressional office. “The congressman has started the rehabilitation process and is grateful to all involved for the care he’s received,” his office said in a statement. Jones, a Republican, was elected for a 13th term in Congress in November. He ran unopposed in the general election after defeating two Republican challengers in the primary. Jones represents much of Eastern North Carolina, including the northern half of the state’s coast. He announced during the campaign that it would be his final term in Congress. The House granted Jones a leave of absence in December and he expected to return to Congress in January. But he has been unable to attend.

NEW WAKE SHERIFF PROMOTES HOMOPHOBE AND FIRES WHISTLE-BLOWING DEPUTIES: WRAL Investigates obtained internal sheriff's office investigative notes regarding the 2017 sessions led by then-Lt. Teddy Patrick. According to an investigation, Patrick signaled to deputies he didn't like gay people – he thought being gay was wrong – but said he could work with them. Former Master Deputy Gray Speight and former Master Deputy Steven Williamson recalled recently Patrick saying that, if he went to a man's house and the man was wearing a dress, he wouldn't be going inside. Notes show that, when Patrick was questioned by superiors, he admitted, "I said it, and I meant it." After Baker defeated Harrison in the November election, he promoted Patrick to captain, one of the highest-ranking officers in his administration. He also fired Williamson and Speight, who are among dozens of deputies who have lost their jobs or been demoted following the change in command. Sheriffs have broad legal authority to hire and fire as they wish.

PELOSI ON THE VERGE OF CANCELING STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS: A grand Washington ritual became a potential casualty of the partial government shutdown as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump to postpone his Jan. 29 State of the Union speech. She cited concerns about whether the hobbled government can provide adequate security, but Republicans cast her move as a ploy to deny Trump the stage. In a letter to Trump, Pelosi said that with both the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department entangled in the shutdown, the president should speak to Congress another time or he should deliver the address in writing. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied anyone's safety is compromised, saying Wednesday that both agencies "are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union." Pelosi left unclear what would happen if Trump insisted on coming despite the welcome mat being pulled away. It takes a joint resolution of the House and Congress to extend the official invitation and set the stage.

BURR AND TILLIS VOTE TO LIFT SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN OLIGARCH TIED TO 2016 ELECTION SHENANIGANS: Senate Republicans on Wednesday narrowly staved off an effort by Democrats to deal the Trump administration’s Russia sanctions policy an embarrassing rebuke. Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in a vote to enforce sanctions against the corporate empire of an influential ally of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but the effort fell three votes short of the 60-vote threshold required to advance the measure. The vote was 57-42, with one Democratic senator not voting. The sanctions were announced by the Treasury Department last April on Mr. Deripaska, his companies and those of other Russian oligarchs in retaliation for the Russian meddling in the presidential election. The announcement was heralded as evidence that the administration was taking a tough stance against Moscow.