ETHICS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST MARK JOHNSON OVER MASS TEXTS: Multiple ethics complaints filed on Thursday accuse State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson of misusing his position by accessing a state database to send what they say was a politically motivated mass text message to parents and teachers. Johnson sent 540,000 text messages and 800,000 email messages Tuesday to parents and educators telling them he opposes Common Core and asking them to take an online survey about the education standards. Opposition to Common Core is a major part of Johnson’s campaign to become North Carolina’s next lieutenant governor. The complaints say the messages were designed for Johnson’s personal gain as opposed to being for official purposes as superintendent. The complaints say the messages were meant to coincide with this week’s start of early voting before the March 3 primary.
BLOOMBERG GOES AFTER TRUMP HARD IN NC RALLIES: Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg declared war on President Donald Trump on Thursday, calling him a "schoolyard bully" who needs to be removed from the White House for the good of the nation. "I am running to defeat Donald Trump," Bloomberg told a cheering crowd in Raleigh. "I am running to restore honor to our government. ... We're here to build a country we can be proud of and to get things done and do it in a united way, and that's what we're going to do. We've got to put 'united' back into United States." Bloomberg swung through North Carolina, making stops in Greensboro and Winston-Salem earlier in the day, as early voting for the state's March 3 primaries opened. "We all know Trump is a bully, but I know how to deal with bullies," he said. "I come from New York just like him, and I'm not afraid of Donald Trump, and he knows it. That's why he keeps tweeting about me."
CORONAVIRUS PUTS A CRIMP IN NC FURNITURE INDUSTRY: The Hickory Daily Record reported Thursday that the respiratory virus has temporarily closed mills in China that provide supplies to furniture makers in the state. Craftmaster Furniture in Alexander County, which is owned by China-based Samson Holdings, imports much of its fabric and leather from mills in China that have been shuttered down for several weeks. President and CEO Roy Calcagne said the company may have to lean more on local suppliers. But he said such a change could be “very disruptive” for the business. Alex Shuford III, CEO of Century Furniture in Hickory, said his firm's supplies could start to run low in several months. The company was already planning to buy some material from India. Shuford said the option is looking more attractive.
AG BARR FRUSTRATED OVER TRUMP'S TWEET ATTACKS ON DOJ EMPLOYEES: Attorney General William P. Barr pushed back hard Thursday against President Trump’s attacks on the Justice Department, saying, “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody,” an assertion of independence that could jeopardize his tenure as the nation’s top law enforcement official. The remarkable public rebuke of the president by a sitting member of his Cabinet arose from a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, which had been accused this week of buckling to an angry tweet the president issued after learning of prosecutors’ initial prison recommendation for his longtime friend, Roger Stone. “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr said in an interview with ABC News, adding that such statements “about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending here, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”
TRUMP IS ONCE AGAIN RAIDING MILITARY FUNDING FOR HIS STUPID BORDER WALL: The Pentagon plans to divert $3.8 billion intended for military equipment to the construction of a wall at the southwestern border, it informed lawmakers on Thursday, drawing bipartisan outrage and reviving a long-running battle with Congress over funding for President Trump’s signature campaign promise. Democrats called Mr. Trump’s plan the latest “theft” of resources and said it would harm national security in the name of a political stunt. “Congress, not the president, has the power of the purse — a power that cannot be nullified so the president can fulfill an outrageous campaign promise,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leaders, said in a joint statement. The Pentagon said the money it was diverting — which would have gone to National Guard equipment, fighter jets, combat aircraft and ships — would be transferred using a relatively obscure law that allows the Defense Department to build fences to counter drug smuggling.