Friday News: Petty partisan politics

GOP CUTS TO JOSH STEIN'S STAFF COULD MAKE ITS MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has spent the past several weeks asking other state agencies to contribute money from their budgets to pay for the work of assistant attorneys general who might have to be laid off to comply with a surprise $10 million budget cut. Stein, a Democrat and former state senator from Wake County, found out shortly before the new fiscal year began July 1 that his office would lose that state money. Legislative leaders didn’t call his office, he said, to talk about a proposal that showed up only in the final version of the state budget after not being included in either the state House or Senate spending plans.

COOPER'S REJECTION OF OFFSHORE DRILLING INCLUDES SEISMIC TESTING: Offshore drilling would bring more risk than potential benefit to North Carolina, Cooper said. An oil spill would devastate the coastal environment and economy for years, he said, and the Trump administration is eliminating regulations that provide some safeguards against spills. Meanwhile, other energy alternatives, such as solar and natural gas, are cheaper and plentiful, making it unnecessary to explore for oil in the Atlantic Ocean, he said. Also, North Carolina would likely see little revenue from any drilling. "It is simply not worth it, North Carolina. It is not worth it," Cooper said. Scientists have long said it's unlikely that there's much oil or gas to find off the coast, and 30 coastal communities and about 200 businesses have come out in opposition to drilling. "To put our communities first and to protect our coast as well as our economy, I am saying no to seismic testing and offshore drilling," Cooper said. "This place, this coastline is part of who we are. It is our duty to protect it."

CHARLOTTE AND RALEIGH TUSSLE OVER WHO WILL GET SOCCER STADIUM: Could the state of North Carolina tilt the playing field to Raleigh over Charlotte in the fight for a major league soccer franchise? That’s what two Mecklenburg County lawmakers said Thursday. Their accusations came a day after a Raleigh group met with MLS officials and unveiled plans for a $150 million stadium and entertainment complex worth hundreds of millions on state-owned land in downtown Raleigh. Mecklenburg County’s proposed capital budget includes nearly $115 million for the stadium over two years, an amount that would be offset by lease payments of $4.25 million a year. Charlotte city officials are considering a contribution of $30 million. The Raleigh group, the North Carolina Football Club, has not asked local or state governments for a direct contribution other than road and other infrastructure improvements. But the group is asking to lease 13 acres of state property a block north of the General Assembly.

NEWLY CREATED ELECTIONS/ETHICS BOARD IN LIMBO UNTIL LATE AUGUST: North Carolina’s highest court says a revamped state elections board that also oversees ethics and lobbying controversies can stay in limbo for now, a holding pattern that could last months. The state Supreme Court on Thursday said Gov. Roy Cooper isn’t required to appoint members of the new state elections and ethics enforcement board created by Republican legislators. That means the board created last month would be unable to make decisions or settle disputes until after the Supreme Court hears from lawyers on Aug. 28. GOP lawmakers have tried pressuring Cooper to appoint four Republican and four Democratic members. The state elections board for a century has had a majority of members from the governor’s political party. Republican lawmakers have sought to dilute Cooper’s powers since his election last November.

AS MUELLER PROBE DEEPENS, TRUMP GOES INTO HIS DEFAULT ATTACK MODE: President Donald Trump's legal team is evaluating potential conflicts of interest among members of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The revelation comes as Mueller's probe into Russia's election meddling appears likely to include some of the Trump family's business ties. Attorney Jay Sekulow, a member of the president's external legal team, told The Associated Press Thursday that the lawyers "will consistently evaluate the issue of conflicts and raise them in the appropriate venue." Two of the people with knowledge of that process say those efforts include probing the political affiliations of Mueller's investigators and their past work history. Trump himself has publicly challenged Mueller, declaring this week that the former FBI director would be crossing a line if he investigated the president's personal business ties.