House Republicans inadvertently left the microphones on during their pre-budget caucus meeting this afternoon.
These are closed meetings where members freely discuss strategy. But this one got piped into every audio outlet in the Legislative Complex.
On today’s budget debate:
The leaders will speak, but no one is supposed to talk about redistricting except for David Lewis, R-Harnett, “Because it’s extremely sensitive to the other people not in this room who are voting with us,” said Majority Leader Skip Stam, and “David can obfuscate more than anybody I know.”
The “sensitive issue” appears to be a provision tucked into Part 22 of the budget – probably 22.4 - that would allow legislators, but not the Democratic Attorney General, to have client/attorney privilege with outside counsel they may hire for redistricting.
Stam explained that for redistricting, “The plan all along has been to submit this to the courts, rather than the Department of Justice, since this will be the first redistricting plan under the Voting Rights Act submitted to a DOJ controlled by Democrats, let alone Obama.”
(The DC Circuit Court, which is where the redistricting plan would go, is considered quite conservative.)
“Y’all need to be raising money for our outside counsel for after session adjourns,” Stam joked.
Exactly how that’s sensitive to the five Democrats voting for the budget isn’t quite clear, but it's fair to say that if they vote for it, they may be helping to disadvantage their own party in 2012.
On debate strategy:
Rep. Brubaker said if Democrats have penetrating questions, the response should be to say they don’t know and will have staff come over to help them, “That way, it’s not on the floor. Shut ‘em down,” Brubaker explained.
Otherwise, Tillis said the House GOP should avoid attacking "Democrats," joking that he would fine offending members $5 each.
“Please do not go after Democrats. Five of them are voting with us,” he said. But if Republicans want to go after a specific D member, Tillis said, “Gut-punch ‘em, hit ‘em in the jaw, doesn’t matter to me.”
Tillis also advised caution in attacking Perdue during the debate. “Understand that these five Democrats are going after her. Understand Bill Owens is a very close personal friend of hers.”
Tillis also commented on a bill that would disallow payroll deduction of NCAE dues. It passed Rules today. “The reason we’re doing it is because the NCAE has gone into all five districts with mailers hammering these Democrats. It’s just a little taste of what’s to come.”
On the governor’s executive order restoring unemployment benefits:
There was some discussion was over whether Perdue didn’t know she could fix it with an EO, or whether she did.
“Either way, she’s incompetent,” Stam said. “She knows it’s going to become law and she wants to get the credit. We really need to crack on her for this.”