Tuesday News: Fast and loose

MARK ROBINSON'S CAMPAIGN SPENDING IS A BIG, HOT MESS: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s campaign report does not explain why $186 worth of medical bills were campaign-related. Or why he bought “campaign clothes and accessories” for $2,840 with the majority being spent at a sporting goods store. It doesn’t explain why his wife needed to be reimbursed $4,500 for campaign clothing or how and where she spent the money. “I think it’s questionable,” Phillips said. “Maybe his wife is someone who is with him and campaigning and there could be a case for additional expenditures ... but that needs an explanation.” And then there are the medical bills. “I have seen some leeway where people buy clothes or even get a haircut,” Phillips said. “But I’ve never seen a doctor’s bill being used or paid for by a campaign contribution and listed in a campaign finance report.”

DURHAM BEGINS VACCINATING TEACHERS IN PREP FOR SCHOOL RE-OPENINGS: Starting Wednesday, health leaders will vaccinate teachers at an expected rate of 1,000 per week. Durham County Public Health Director Rod Jenkins said his team will start providing vaccines to part of Group 3, which includes teachers, school staff and essential workers as noted by the state. Jenkins said more women than men have been vaccinated in Durham County. The news comes as Durham Public Schools plan for in-person learning. On March 15, kindergarten students through fifth-graders will begin face-to-face instruction on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and will learn from home on Wednesdays. Then, on April 8, sixth- through 12th- graders will begin face-to-face instruction in one of three cohorts and will attend school in rotation two days per week while remaining in remote the other three days when the other cohorts are in the classroom.

ORANGE COUNTY PULLS STANFORD NAME FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL: The school names report, written with help from the district’s Equity Task Force, concluded that little was done during Stanford’s time on the board or during his 16 years as chair to integrate Orange County’s schools or improve its Black schools. Board member Sarah Smylie said it’s not necessary to delve into how Stanford may have upheld segregation, and it’s not her intent to cast judgment on his legacy. But the board is in a position to acknowledge some of the harm of the past, she said. “I think it is enough to say that he has had this honor of a school named after him for 50 years, and that where we are right now to me is a place of saying that period of segregation was incredibly harmful to the Black members of our community and that he is associated with a board that oversaw that time,” Smylie said. The Stanford family spent the last two weeks researching their ancestor’s history through news stories and district records, they told the board Monday. Stanford’s oldest grandson, Don Stanford, who outlined his findings in a letter to the board, said his grandfather was part of the solution — not the problem — and worked within the existing political system to make life better for all people.

CAPITOL LAW ENFORCEMENT LEADERS TO TESTIFY IN SENATE ABOUT INSURRECTION: The deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will be back in the spotlight Tuesday at a Senate hearing featuring four law enforcement officials who have been summoned to answer questions about what led to the mob violence committed by supporters of President Donald Trump. Among the witnesses: Former House sergeant-at-arms Paul D. Irving and former Senate sergeant-at-arms Michael C. Stenger, neither of whom has spoken publicly about their decision-making before and during the riot. Also expected to appear are former Capitol Police chief Steven A. Sund and acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III. Irving, Stenger and Sund resigned their posts after the assault. Contee’s officers engaged in some of the most brutal clashes with rioters at the Capitol’s doors. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said in an interview Monday that he expects Tuesday’s hearings to “lead to even more questions” about what contributed to the security failures on Jan. 6. Both he and Klobuchar said that at least one additional hearing will be called featuring senior officials of the federal agencies who were involved in the preparations and response to the insurrection. “We need to know more about what happened prior to Jan. 6, and that’s certainly something I will be focused on as chairman,” Peters said, noting that “it certainly seems there was a major failure of leadership.” But he sidestepped questions about whether the expected grilling of Irving and Stenger might yield to a more partisan and acrimonious debate over whether Pelosi or other elected officials bear responsibility for the lack of preparedness.

MERRICK GARLAND PLEDGES TO GO AFTER WHITE SUPREMACISTS AS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, said on Monday that the threat from domestic extremism was greater today than at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and he pledged that if confirmed he would make the federal investigation into the Capitol riot his first priority. Judge Garland, who led the Justice Department’s prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on the first day of his confirmation hearings that the early stages of the current inquiry into the “white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol” seemed to be aggressive and “perfectly appropriate.” He received a largely positive reception from members of both parties on the panel, five years after Senate Republicans blocked his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Garland, 68, who was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997, pledged on Monday to restore the independence of a Justice Department that had suffered deep politicization under the Trump administration. “I do not plan to be interfered with by anyone,” Judge Garland said. Should he be confirmed, he said, he would uphold the principle that “the attorney general represents the public interest.” Judge Garland also said he would reinvigorate the department’s civil rights division as America undergoes a painful and destabilizing reckoning with systemic racism.



Robinson ...

Just curious, but as Lt. Governor, does Robinson have access to a budget for travel and/or other expenses?

If so, has any news organization been doing some public document requests to see if what he might be spending that budget on, particularly personal expenses or travel and expenses related to partisan GQP events?