TOM FETZER UNDER SCRUTINY FOR CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISER TEXT: “I’m putting together a fundraiser for John Bell the night before the Garden Party on Thursday, April 8 from 5:30-7 at the Cape Fear Club (Men’s Club),” Fetzer’s text message said. “As Tim Moore has stated he is not seeking another term in the House, John is the odds on favorite to be Speaker in 2023. We’ll be having dinner at Quanto Bosso across the street immediately following. Please let me know if you can join us.” State law prohibits lobbyists from holding fundraisers or soliciting contributions for lawmakers during legislative sessions. It also prohibits them from making contributions or collecting them at any time. “I dictated the text into my phone and just sent it,” Fetzer said. “And I didn’t spell check it or anything so I think it just, the transmission got garbled. I wouldn’t have intentionally sent that.” Well at least he didn't blame it on autocorrect.
GOVERNOR COOPER UNVEILS BUDGET PROPOSAL WITH TEACHER RAISES AND BONUSES: Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday proposed a $27.3 billion spending plan for North Carolina's coming budget year, including hefty raises for teachers, smaller raises for state employees and several rounds of bonuses for both groups. Cooper again pressed for expanding Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income working adults, an idea that has led to frequent clashes with Republican legislative leaders and has help scuttle budget agreements in each of the last two years. But he said he's confident things will be different this time around. "Unlike the last budget cycle we had, I've had numerous conversations with both Republican and Democratic leadership [in the General Assembly]," he said during a news conference. "We've all agreed that everything is on the table – everything is up for negotiation." But Republican legislative leaders immediately expressed concern over the budget, without even getting into the Medicaid issue.
TRUMP DOJ'S "SECRET" VOTER FRAUD INVESTIGATION IN NC IS FINALLY OVER: Federal prosecutors have announced an end to a sweeping, four-year-long investigation into voter fraud in North Carolina, peeling back a veil of secrecy from a probe that pitted state and federal officials against each other over a massive demand for data on every one of the state’s registered voters. Many of the latest indictments were announced for the first time Friday, but the totals fall far short of early suggestions by the federal government of “pervasive” or “systemic” fraud, suspicions the U.S. Attorney’s Office put before a federal judge in an effort to keep details of its inquiry secret for years. A bipartisan State Board of Elections voted, unanimously, in September 2018 to authorize Democratic N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein to fight several of U.S. DOJ’s sprawling subpoenas in the case, an action Stein took in early 2019. In the state’s court filing, attorneys called the subpoenas, seeking a trove of voter information just weeks before the 2018 midterm elections, “unprecedented.” “The all-encompassing, ‘dragnet’ nature of the subpoenas would impose extraordinary burdens on the state and county boards,” attorneys wrote in their Jan. 8, 2019, filing, estimating the demand would mean the production of more than 15 million documents and that it could cost the state millions. The DOJ subpoenas were eventually delayed and scaled back dramatically.
TEACHERS MAY HAVE CAUSED ROBINSON TO SHUT DOWN HIS "INDOCTRINATION" WEBSITE PORTAL: On the day of the press conference users were able to access the F.A.C.T.S. website via the taskbar at the top of the Lieutenant Governor's official page. Clicking the F.A.C.T.S. tab took users to an online form they could use to detail instances of classroom indoctrination. While the F.A.C.T.S. portal was up for several days after the press conference, it was quietly taken down at some point earlier this week. Some teachers pushed back against the characterization of equitable civic lessons as indoctrination. At least one teacher tried to illustrate a point by self-reporting instances when they taught students to avoid being racist, adding that is ultimately what is meant by indoctrination. "I reported myself at least 10 times for separate incidents where I taught my students my 'opinion' that racism, hate, and bigotry were wrong," said one teacher. "I also called on friends and colleagues to self-report as well. It's hard to harass and intimidate teachers who are willing to put their foot down." It is currently unclear if the 12-member group will begin their investigation work now that the online portal has been removed. Oh, he will find some complaints, even if he has to write them himself and sign somebody else's name to it.
DR. RACHEL LEVINE CONFIRMED AT HHS, HIGHEST OFFICE EVER FOR A TRANSGENDER NOMINEE: The Senate on Wednesday voted 52 to 48 to confirm Rachel Levine as the nation’s assistant secretary for health, making her the highest-ranking openly transgender official in U.S. history. All Democrats and independents voted to support Levine, with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) crossing the aisle to support her, prompting cheers from advocates who called the vote a breakthrough. “I firmly believe that turning points, such as today’s Senate confirmation vote for Dr. Levine’s appointment, are powerful indications that this nation is truly heading down the pathway to lasting transgender equality,” said Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who served in the Obama administration and was the first openly transgender official to work in the White House. Levine, who most recently served as Pennsylvania’s top health official, is the first openly transgender official to be confirmed by the Senate. Her candidacy was widely opposed by religious rights groups, and some Republican critics also zeroed in on gaps in Pennsylvania’s nursing home data that they said complicated the state’s response to the pandemic. Levine was a target of online attacks as her profile rose during the pandemic, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) lashed out at Levine at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing last month, questioning her support of hormone therapy for minors. Advocacy organizations and public health experts condemned Paul’s questions as harmful misrepresentations, and Paul’s Democratic colleagues rebuked him for the remarks.