Local News

Republican Senator Takes Aim At Speaker Black

Posted August 7, 2006 7:07 a.m. EDT

— A Republican lawmaker unveiled an election year ad campaign Monday calling on embattled House Speaker Jim Black to resign in the wake of his "dirty corruption scandal."

Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, said he will drain his entire campaign account airing the 30-second TV spot.

"The man is so arrogant -- he's gone mad with power," said Brock, R-Davie. "He's violated the trust of the people of North Carolina."

Criticism of Black, D-Mecklenburg, intensified last week when former state Rep. Michael Decker pleaded guilty to taking $50,000 in 2003 to switch to the Democratic party and support a particular candidate for speaker. Black was the only Democratic candidate for the chamber's highest post, but his office denies any dealmaking with Decker.

"I consider it treason against the state," said Brock, adding that his ad will air during statewide talk show N.C. SPIN and on the FOX News channel. "Today is the day we're going to end Democratic corruption in North Carolina."

"If we can put this television ad into everyone's home across North Carolina, maybe they'll start to listen how we can clean up state government," Brock added.

Although he is not in the House, Brock said he saw the need to sponsor and appear in the anti-Black ad and Web site.

"I'm not doing it for political opportunity," he said.

Democrats, however, disagree.

"It is absolutely unfortunate that some Republicans continue to sling mud and make up lies about me and other Democrats, but it's not surprising given their abysmal record on the issues that people really care about," Black said in a statement released late Monday afternoon.

Party Chairman Jerry Meek also called the Black attack a predictable political move.

“They're going to make this election about Jim Black," Meek said. "The fact of the matter is they don't have anything else to run on.”

Meek concedes the allegations of paid influence deserve more investigation, but said there is not enough information to judge the speaker.

Despite all the negative attention, Democratic political consultant Tim McKay said this year is not one that is conducive to broad brushing candidates and that there are no statewide contests or a presidential race to draw voters.

“That issue is going to play in some districts," McKay said. "It's not going to play in others. It still boils down to what happens on the ground as opposed to any over arcing issue statewide.”

Politically, the balance of power in the Democrat-controlled House is on the line. Republicans want to regain control. Democrats hold a 63 to 57 majority, but a handful of races are considered tight.

Black has faced a series of ethical questions over the past year.

The State Board of Election ruled in March that the speaker wrongfully accepted $6,800 in incomplete campaign checks and a federal grand jury is investigating the state's video poker and lottery industries, in which Black has played a large role. A Wake County Superior Court judge on Monday upheld that ruling, calling the practice "blatant gamesmanship."

Black's former political aide, Meredith Norris, has been charged with violating the state's lobbying laws by working as an unregistered lobbyist for lottery business Scientific Games Corp.

When the lottery won passage, Black appointed Kevin Geddings to serve on the state's lottery commission. A grand jury has since charged Geddings with five counts of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud, accusing him of failing to report his work with Scientific Games on a financial disclosure form required of state appointees.

Brock called on all Democrats to donate their Black-raised money to charity.

"If they want clean and honest elections, they must do so with clean and honest campaigns," Brock said.