COOPER DETAILS "DAMAGE" OF HB2 ON NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND (WRAL-TV) -- "This could have been a different weekend," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper wrote on Medium Friday, marking the beginning of the NBA's All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. The game and the parties that accompany it are a tourism and revenue driver, one pulled from the Tar Heel State in the wake of House Bill 2. Data provided to the Charlotte City Council in 2015 suggested that the All-Star Game would bring in approximately $100 million, including $60 million in visitor spending alone.
HARTSELL PLEADS GUILTY IN MISUSE OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Former state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell pleaded guilty on Friday to federal charges that he used about $210,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses over eight years. His agreement to plead guilty to charges of mail fraud and filing false tax returns was entered in North Carolina’s federal middle-district court. It resolves part of a long-running state and federal investigation into how the 69-year-old Concord lawyer used campaign money for expenses such as life insurance policies, phone service for relatives and membership to the Carolina Club at UNC-Chapel Hill and a Studebaker driving club.
COMEY MEETS BURR, INTEL SENATORS, AMID UPROAR OVER TRUMP-RUSSIA TIES (The Hill) -- FBI Director James B. Comey met with lawmakers from the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Friday, amid an uproar over alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. The Intelligence panel’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), called the meeting “just a normal classified briefing.” “I won't talk about it at all,” he told a pack of reporters surrounding him by the subway to the Russell Senate office building — one of whom had leapt across the train tracks to get into the scrum.
75% OF NC IS EXPERIENCING DROUGHT CONDITIONS, DON’T WORRY YET (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Counties in western tip of North Carolina, including Clay, Macon and Cherokee, have seen some relief, dropping from extreme drought – the second most serious drought on a 5-point scale – in January, to severe drought, the third most serious category. But about 75 percent of North Carolina’s counties are experiencing a dry spell, this week’s report from the N.C. Drought Monitor said.