No pickets for Dem fundraisers

Posted July 11, 2011
Updated July 12, 2011

Senate and House Democrats are scheduled to hold pre-session fundraisers tomorrow night and Wednesday morning at the state party headquarters in Raleigh. Both are likely to be far quieter affairs than a similar GOP event last month.

Under state law, legislators can’t take PAC money (which is generally directed by lobbyists) during session. The aim of that law is to avoid the undue influence (or the appearance of it) of large campaign contributors on the legislative process.

But because the legislature is officially out of session at this time, lawmakers can accept PAC checks of up to $4000, right up until the special session gavels in at noon on Wednesday.

On June 29th, House Republicans held a fundraiser at 18 Seaboard in Raleigh. The event, which was well-attended by lawmakers and lobbyists alike, was legal. But government reform advocates argued it violated the spirit of the law because legislators would soon reconvene to vote on redistricting maps, veto overrides, and other matters.

At the GOP fundraiser, a coalition of groups – the AFL-CIO and good-government advocacy group Democracy NC, among others – gathered with signs and banners and chants, protesting “pay-to-play politics” and denouncing “government for sale.”

Are those groups similarly concerned about the upcoming Democratic fundraisers?

“I’d say we’re a firm believer that there needs to be campaign finance reform,” said the AFL-CIO’s MaryBe McMillan. “I don’t believe there should be pay-to-play for either party, and we don’t believe either party should be holding fundraisers in what is really just a short break between sessions.”

But McMillan said her group isn’t planning a similar protest at the Dems’ events.

“From our perspective, the picket was also largely about Republican policies they had passed, unrelated to campaign finance,” McMillan said, citing the unemployment benefits standoff, a corporate tax loophole, service cuts, and public sector job losses. “Our protest was really about Republicans’ attacks on working families and workers.”

Democracy NC’s director Bob Hall also doesn’t plan to be present. When I asked why, he pointed me to the following passage from his group’s earlier press release:

“I don’t fault the individual legislator for taking advantage of opportunities to raise funds,” said Hall. “They’re trapped in a corrupting system that pushes them to fixate on raising money. What bothers me is when they don’t try to change the system or they promise they will but then just make it worse.”

“So it’s not just any fundraiser by any legislator that drew our criticism,” Hall said in an email.

Hall said the AFL-CIO was the primary organizer of the earlier protest. “We didn’t initiate the demonstration at the House GOP event. We got an email notice about the picket and on Monday circulated it to others and several Dem-NCers showed up, too,” Hall said. “It’s not like we’re cruising around looking for fundraisers to protest.”

But, he added, that could change. “You can bet if Democratic legislators regain majority power, promise serious reforms, and then don’t deliver and instead pass a bill like the interest rake hike for commercial lender/donors, well, we’ll definitely be in their face, too,” said Hall.

House Republican Caucus political director Scott Laster isn’t surprised the Dems will get a pass.

“The fact that both Democracy NC and AFL-CIO of North Carolina do not plan on protesting the Democrats’ events merely highlights their partisan agenda more than anything else. The hypocrisy of protesting Republicans but not Democrats should discredit their reputation as “non-partisan” organizations,” Laster responded via email.

“Heck, I would not be surprised if you find one or both groups attending the event as participants,” Laster added. “This should demonstrate that these “non-partisan” organizations are nothing but extensions of the Democratic Party.”

Protests or not, I’ll be at both Dem events, doing my best to see who shows up for them.


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Mango Jul 18, 2011

    Democracy NC must be doing something right -- the opposite side (Democrats) said the same thing about them (that they were partisan and out to destroy their side) when Democracy NC research pretty much brought down both Jim Black and Mike Easley, both Democrats.

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Jul 13, 2011

    PACs should be banned.

  • marktroll Jul 13, 2011

    how many groups are PAYING UP this morning??? remember?? the Dems are holding a fundraiser THE MORNING OF SESSION???

  • chavez1985 Jul 12, 2011

    of course not those who picketed the GOP were funded by Move On and George Sorros

  • marktroll Jul 12, 2011

    how much are Democracy NC and AFL-CIO of North Carolina paying up at tonights fundraiser?

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Jul 12, 2011

    These PACs are nothing but trouble, buying votes should be illegal... buying influence should be illegal.

  • forautumn Jul 12, 2011

    "This should demonstrate that these “non-partisan” organizations are nothing but extensions of the Democratic Party.”

    Much like the non-partisan Tea Pary is nothing but an extension of the Republican party.

    Funny how that works.

  • faperrigo Jul 12, 2011

    Really, would the AFL-CIO want so-called "pay to play" to go away? Wouldn't that diminish the union's influence?

  • jimmei77 Jul 12, 2011

    Why would the AFL or the Teachers Unions show up and protest what the Democrats do. Both organizations use their union dues to support the Democrats.......The unemployment rate for young people between the ages of 16 to 19 in North Carolina is 32%, and it is worse for young black men. Much of this is due to the fact that Big Labor Unions had the Democrats raise the minimum wage two years ago. Labor unions and the Democrats are no friends to young Aamericans.

  • ljohnson247 Jul 12, 2011

    “Heck, I would not be surprised if you find one or both groups attending the event as participants,” Laster added. “This should demonstrate that these “non-partisan” organizations are nothing but extensions of the Democratic Party.” This hit the nail right on the head.