Rob Christensen gives all the gory details in today's News and Observer. Zowie, folks! It looks like the Puppetmaster may be losing some of his strings!
Former House Speaker Richard Morgan on Wednesday took legal steps to shut down the independent political campaign being waged against him and like-minded Republicans by his GOP rivals. Morgan, a state House member from Moore County, formally asked for an investigation by the State Board of Elections into whether several groups with strong ties to former state Rep. Art Pope, a Raleigh retail executive, were using illegal corporate contributions to help defeat Morgan and his allies.
"I see that my colleagues and I are attacked unfairly through the use of corporate dollars that for a long time have been illegal in North Carolina," Morgan said Wednesday. "I'm tired of it and I want to do something about it."
Morgan is asking the state board to stop negative ads and mailings that are paid for with corporation contributions connected to Pope, who is a former Republican nominee for lieutenant governor and a major funder of conservative causes.
But Pope said his company, Variety Wholesalers, and the nonprofit groups that have been sending out mailings against Morgan and his allies, had carefully complied with the law.
Tell it to the judge, Puppetmaster. You guys have never met a law you wouldn't try to skirt in the interest of lining your own deep pockets.
Pope has helped bankroll the effort to purge Morgan and his allies. His company, Variety Stores, contributed at least $460,000 in 2004 to defeat five Republican House members including Rep. David Miner of Cary and nearly defeated Morgan.
This election cycle, Pope-connected organizations have once again sent out at least four mailings that attack Morgan and GOP Reps. Rick Eddins of Raleigh, Robert Grady of Jacksonville, Julia Howard of Mocksville, and Stephen LaRoque of Kinston.
The case could test the limits of the use of corporate money in state political campaigns.
"You have over half million of direct corporate money put in by a CEO millionaire to buy legislative seats," said Michael Weisel, an attorney and former Wake County Democratic chairman who is representing Morgan.
North Carolina law prohibits the use of corporate contributions in election campaigns and limits individual contributions to $4,000. Pope says the law allows corporate contributions as part of an issue advocacy effort.
Issue advocacy my ass. The Puppetmaster is pissed because everybody in North Carolina won't dance to his tune, and he's pouring his family money into buying more influence. I wonder if the cashiers at Roses know he's spending hundreds of thousands on his fragile ego while refusing to pay them a living wage.
Pope said it was "hypocritical" for Morgan to complain about using corporate contributions. Morgan was connected to the N.C. Republican Main Street Committee, which raised money in 2004 from corporations with business before the legislature.
Can you believe that? Pope calling Morgan "hypocritical?"