Tuesday News: King Rat

ROBIN HAYES SET TO THROW CO-CONSPIRATORS UNDER THE BUS: Under a deal with federal prosecutors, North Carolina’s former state Republican chairman could testify against other defendants in the state’s largest-ever case of political bribery. Robin Hayes would plead guilty to a single felony count of lying to the FBI under the deal. He’s scheduled to formally enter his guilty plea in federal court Wednesday. The plea agreement calls for Hayes to cooperate with prosecutors. That includes testifying against his co-defendants. Hayes, a former member of Congress, was one of four men indicted last March on multiple charges of conspiracy and bribery. Also indicted were Durham businessman Greg Lindberg — one of the GOP’s biggest campaign contributors — and two associates, John Gray and John Palermo. All four pleaded not guilty at the time.

GEORGIA COMPANY SUES NC DEPT. OF REVENUE OVER SOLAR CREDITS: A Georgia company has sued the North Carolina Department of Revenue over tax credit policies, accusing the department of unfairly auditing customers who invested more $1 billion in North Carolina. Monarch Tax Credits wants the department's moves declared unconstitutional, and it seeks more than $5 million in damages. The case was filed last week in Wake County Superior Court, but because of its complex nature will be heard in the state's Business Court. Monarch helped clients invest in solar energy and historic rehabilitation projects tied to tax credits the state offers to boost those industries. But it has clashed for a couple of years now with the Department of Revenue over just how those credits work, and the company said in its lawsuit that DOR has been "overreaching its authority and attempting to make, rather than administer and interpret, tax law."

MCCONNELL INTIMATES SENATE MAY RUSH THROUGH IMPEACHMENT IF IT COMES TO THEM: Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Senate rules would require him to take up any articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump if approved by the House, swatting down talk that that the GOP-controlled chamber could dodge the matter entirely. “I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said on CNBC. But he cautioned, “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter.” House Democrats are pushing for quick action on their probe into a phone transcript and whistleblower complaint that Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic foe Joe Biden’s family. If the House approves articles of impeachment — not introduced at this point — they would be sent to the Senate for trial. McConnell suggested he does not have the 67 votes to change the rules. But the Kentucky Republican, the Senate’s chief strategist, left open what he means by taking up the issue.

TRUMP'S AG IS WORKING WITH FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS TO INVESTIGATE U.S. INTEL AGENTS: Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter. Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries. Barr has already made overtures to British intelligence officials, and last week the attorney general traveled to Italy, where he and Durham met senior Italian government officials and Barr asked the Italians to assist Durham, according to one person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. It was not Barr’s first trip to Italy to meet intelligence officials, the person said. The Trump administration has made similar requests of Australia, said people who discussed the interactions on the condition of anonymity because they involve an ongoing investigation and sensitive talks between governments.

HONG KONG PROTESTER SHOT WITH A LIVE ROUND AS VIOLENCE ESCALATES: A Hong Kong police officer on Tuesday shot a teenage demonstrator, the first time in months of protests that a live round was fired at a protester. The shooting capped an evening of violent protests, escalating the territory’s political crisis on the same day that the central government staged a huge military parade in Beijing to celebrate 70 years of Communist control. The protesters in Hong Kong hoped to upstage Beijing’s celebrations by holding their own unauthorized marches. Violence quickly broke out, as demonstrators in districts across the city engaged in some of the bloodiest and most sustained clashes since protesters began taking to the streets in early June. The protester was shot in the Tsuen Wan district of northern Hong Kong. Tsuen Wan is a working-class area near Hong Kong’s border with the Chinese mainland, miles from the city’s gleaming financial district. Hong Kong was transformed into a tear gas-engulfed battlefield on Tuesday as protesters clashed with riot police in nine districts across the territory, building bonfires and barricades and hurling firebombs and other objects in a direct challenge to Beijing’s rule.



Sexual improprieties

There are two relatively major stories that I have refrained from covering here so far, as I was waiting for confirmation or at least further info. Both stories have one thing in common: the supporters of these individual (men) have cast the accusations as conspiracies. Here's the first one:

A statement Friday Sept. 27, from the Alamance County branch of the NAACP questions accusations of sexual harassment against member the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, and suggests they are motivated by Gatewood’s run for state NAACP president.

“The fact that Rev. Gatewood was running against T. Anthony Spearman, [former N.C. NAACP President] William Barber’s hand-picked successor, makes the timing of this urgent campaign to take action against Rev. Gatewood all the more suspicious,” the statement reads.

Jazmyne Childs, a former youth and college director for the state chapter, said at a news conference Thursday that she endured unwanted physical contact and harassment starting shortly after her employment began in 2017. She identified the harasser as her supervisor, Gatewood, who is running for president of the state chapter, challenging the incumbent, Spearman.

Childs, 27, said she came forward because the national NAACP didn’t respond to her letters seeking that it expel Gatewood from membership, something state chapters cannot do. Gatewood, 60, denies the charges. The national NAACP announced Gatewood’s membership has been suspended.

I will refrain from speculation, other than to say I find it highly unlikely Reverend Barber would support a false accusation of this nature. Here's the second one:

Dan Gerlach, interim chancellor at East Carolina University, was placed on administrative leave Monday by the UNC System. Over the weekend, photos and video surfaced of Gerlach socializing at two Greenville, NC, bars known to be frequented by ECU students.

In announcing Gerlach's leave, UNC System Interim President Bill Roper said, “In light of reports from this past weekend, ECU Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.”

The reports to which Roper referred were photos and video published first on social media of Gerlach drinking, dancing and interacting with people at the two bars, Sup Dogs and Club 519, on Wednesday, Sept 25th.

Rob Waldron, owner of Club 519, said Gerlach, when approached by one woman, "was too damn nice to just tell her 'get off me.'" His version of events was backed up by bartender Brandon Smith and another Club 519 employee, both of whom were present when Gerlach visited the club.

Another supporter, ECU alumnus Brandon Avery, questioned the timing of the controversy, noting that it's been less than two weeks since Gerlach announced his intention to seek a permanent appointment to the job.

"Alternative headline," Avery tweeted: "Local witch-hunt starts because interim chancellor is the obvious choice for the permanent position and that doesn’t fit into someone’s agenda."

Asked for more elaboration, Avery told WRAL News, "I’m not going to throw around specific accusations, but suddenly having issue with someone who has nothing but positive reviews since his arrival, shortly after his announcement that he’s seeking the permanent position just doesn’t sound like a good headline."

Again, no speculation on my part. But a couple of the photos I've seen show Dan all over a woman who was sitting in a chair, while he was standing. Needless to say, the optics of that are not good.