Who’da Thunk It?

A newly created congressional district and other legislative power grabs.

Nelda Holder, photo by Tim Barnwell
Nelda Holder
Photo: Tim Barnwell
Legislative News by Nelda Holder –

Who’d ever have imagined that after helping to facilitate the Republican version of redistricting in this year’s legislative session—a third attempt at mapping because of past gerrymandering ruled out of line by a then-Democratic-majority state court—the head of the NC House of Representatives would announce his candidacy for Congress in the newly created congressional district where he resides.

But certainly the longest-serving Speaker of the House in the state’s history (see “All the Power, All the Time,” June 16, 2023 Urban News)—who has served some 21 years in the House, eight of them as speaker—deserves a change of scenery. And what’s a man to do when presented with a new state district that stretches along the South Carolina border through the edges of Charlotte and basically right up to his doorstep in Gastonia? (Bye, bye, Democratic Congressman Jeff Jackson of the former Charlotte-area district, who has already announced he will now run for state attorney general since the newly drawn district he lives in appears hopelessly Republican).

But there are pretty obvious shadows behind this candidacy—in addition to the fact that this redrawn district would seem to purposefully facilitate one man’s candidacy. Moore’s current tenure in office has been haunted by hints and innuendos and cold facts that do not flatter the man. They include the tumultuous start of this legislative session when rumors abounded regarding Moore’s political courtship of Rep. Tricia Cotham in an effort to move her from the Democratic side of the aisle to Republican. It was a successful maneuver that made for an uproarious start to the session, handing the Republicans a voting edge in the House that could defy the governor’s vetoes. And did.

Questions flew about just how passionately the speaker wooed his intended comrade. The gossip was aided by an alienation of affection lawsuit against Moore over an alleged extramarital affair. That suit eventually was dissolved by a voluntary dismissal.

But Moore charged on as leader of this session, despite continued attacks—a list of which appeared in the June 29, 2023, edition of Axios Raleigh. The list contains an FBI inquiry launched in 2015 regarding an audit of his campaign expenditures, having to do with rent payments to his own company. It also lists an ethics complaint in 2018 that was eventually dismissed, charges of influence wielding on state jobs and appointments, and questionable situations from his pre-legislative past.

Slap on the Hand for Another Power Grab

Eating away at the power of the governor of the state of North Carolina has been a steady diet for the just-ended General Assembly session. But one grab was at least temporarily halted by a temporary injunction in Gov. Roy Cooper’s favor in the case of SB 512, with a working title of “Greater Accountability for Boards/Commissions.”

On October 10, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed SB 512 and filed a lawsuit challenging what he contended were separation-of-powers Constitutional violations. The bill, usurping certain appointment powers by the governor of the state and delivering them to the legislature, targeted positions on such powerful boards as the NC Utility Commission, the Board of Transportation, the Environmental Management Commission, and seriously tampering with the state’s public university governance. By shortly after midnight the veto had been overridden in the legislature.

But Cooper didn’t back down, and filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court, calling the new law a “blatantly legislative power grab,” as reported in his own press release. The lawsuit, according to the press release, seeks to maintain the “Governor’s constitutional duties” including “separation of powers principles” which offer gubernatorial control over “administrative bodies that have final executive authority.” It maintains that the bill prevents the governor from “exercising sufficient control over executive boards and commissions” charged with enforcing laws, promulgating rules, and taking other executive action.

Stay tuned.

 


Nelda Holder is the author of The Thirteenth Juror – Ferguson: A Personal Look at the Grand Jury Transcripts.