Thursday News: Voting with your wallet


UNC ALUMNI THREATEN TO CUT OFF DONATIONS OVER SILENT SAM: Some young alumni are threatening to withhold donations from UNC-Chapel Hill until Silent Sam is gone for good. It’s an attempt to influence the looming decision about what to do with the disputed Confederate statue. A letter signed by more than 2,200 people was sent to the UNC administration last week, specifically referencing a $5.3 million proposal to build a history center that was to house the toppled monument. That plan is now dead, having been rejected Friday by the UNC system Board of Governors. A five-member committee was appointed to work with UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and campus trustees on a new proposal, due in March. The recent petition included signatures primarily from current students, employees and alumni who graduated in the past decade. The letter said the signers would withhold all financial contributions “until a plan is adopted that permanently removes Silent Sam from campus.”

BLADEN COUNTY SHERIFF CAUGHT UP IN ABSENTEE BALLOT SCHEME: McCrae Dowless, who worked this year for Republican congressional hopeful Mark Harris' campaign, as well as for Sheriff Jim McVicker's re-election, said in the declaration that he took $5,800 in 2014 from a Bladen County sweepstakes parlor operator. He said it was cash he needed to pay a team of campaign workers. Smith's attorneys told the court in one of their filings that Dowless had access to "several hundred absentee ballots" that "were physically seen and confirmed as votes for sheriff McVicker by Mr. Dowless." Interviews suggest Dowless may have run a ballot-harvesting operation in 2018, sending people door to door to collect absentee ballots, which is illegal. The sworn statements tie back to a federal suit Smith brought in 2016 against McVicker and Bladen County District Attorney Jonathan David over the 2015 raid. A federal judge dismissed that suit last month, but in a pre-trial deposition, Smith said Bordeaux told him during the run-up to the 2014 election that then-Sheriff Prentis Benston planned to raid his operation.

AFTER VETO OVERRIDE OF VOTER ID, ADVOCACY ORGS ANNOUNCE LAWSUITS: North Carolina voters will be asked to show photo identification when they go to the polls next year, barring intervention by a court. The Republican-led legislature took the final step to shrug off Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of its photo ID bill, with the House voting 72-40 Wednesday to override after a long debate that touched on the state’s history of voter suppression. The Senate took its override vote Tuesday. Minutes after the House vote, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice announced a lawsuit challenging the voter ID law had been filed in Wake County Superior Court. The Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the N.C. NAACP, said the organization would announce a lawsuit Thursday. “You don’t have a right to take away my right or anybody else’s right because they can’t supply you with a photo ID,” Michaux said. “It looks like history is going to repeat itself.”

TRUMP BYPASSES CONGRESS WITH CRACKDOWN ON FOOD STAMP ELIGIBILITY: The Trump administration is setting out to do what this year's farm bill didn't: tighten work requirements for millions of Americans who receive federal food assistance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday is proposing a rule that would restrict the ability of states to exempt work-eligible adults from having to obtain steady employment to receive food stamps. The move comes just weeks after lawmakers passed a $400 billion farm bill that reauthorized agriculture and conservation programs while leaving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which serves roughly 40 million Americans, virtually untouched. The Trump administration's effort, while celebrated by some conservatives, has been met with criticism from advocates who say tightening restrictions will result in more vulnerable Americans, including children, going hungry. A Brookings Institute study published this summer said more stringent work requirements are likely to hurt those who are already part of the workforce but whose employment is sporadic.

PUTIN HAPPY WITH TRUMP DECISION TO PULL US TROOPS OUT OF SYRIA: President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday welcomed President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of American troops from Syria, calling it “the right decision.” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he was ordering the withdrawal because the United States military had achieved its goal of defeating the Islamic State militant group in Syria. But the move caught many by surprise, including some of his military and diplomatic advisers. It has also drawn criticism, even among Republicans, for abandoning Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State and for aiding the geopolitical ambitions of Iran and Russia in the Middle East. The Russian leader expressed skepticism, however that American forces would actually withdraw, as the United States had announced a pullout from Afghanistan by 2014 but still has forces in that country today.