Pittman blasts Tillis
In a video circulating online, Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, says House Speaker Thom Tillis' U.S. Senate ambitions are getting in the way of moving legislation in the House.Posted — Updated
In the video, Pittman speaks to a gathering of conservative Republicans and tells them about his frustration getting bills moved through the state House.
Pittman opens his remarks by opining on religion and how that informs how someone works in public life.
"You need to know where Jesus Christ stands. You need to remember you have an obligation to vote as an informed voter. and if you are a Christian, when you go into there to vote, your vote belongs to Jesus Christ," Pittman said.
He transitioned into speaking about a resolution that would have declared that the state could ignore federal dictates with respect to endorsing a particular religion.
"We though we might get a chance to fix it in committee," Pittman said. "But as you are probably aware, the media got a hold of it and blew it all out of proportion and made it something nothing like what it was intended."
Days after the bill was filed, House Speaker Thom Tills declared the bill dead, something Pittman decries.
"I'm potentially getting myself in real trouble telling you this stuff," Pittman tells the crowd. "Then, none of my bills will go anywhere, but they're not going anywhere anyway."
He went on to explain that conservative Republicans were seeing their bills blocked.
“You know, I was proud to vote for Thom Tillis to be the speaker again, when we got back up there this year because, last session, he was great," he said. "You know, I thought, 'No one could be more fair than this guy is.'
"But, now he's running for U.S. Senate, or planning to. Things have changed," he continued. "They tell us all the time about how bad it was when (Republicans) were in the minority and the Democratic leadership wouldn't let them get their bills moved or anything. Well, now the constitutional conservatives, the Republican part of the House, know what that's like.”
Tillis spent much of Tuesday House session speaking with members around the chamber, while Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, ran the meeting. Afterward, Tillis spent time talking to a number of members, including social conservatives who are viewed as sympathetic to Pittman's politics.
The Speaker declined to comment on Pittman's remarks.
"I just don't have any reaction," he said. "I disagree with Rep. Pittman and that's my only comment."
In the video, Pittman went on to complain that two bills he has put forward related to gun rights haven't moved. He explains that the Speaker's Office codes bills green, yellow and red. His two bills, he said, were coded yellow, which means they're on hold. He goes on to say bills are put on hold because they might hurt Tillis' chances in next year's U.S. Senate race.
“Well, that's too controversial. It might hurt somebody's Senate campaign," Pittman says to explain why several firearms bills aren't moving forward.
It's worth noting that, while Tillis is widely rumored to be running for U.S. Senate against Democrat Kay Hagan, he has not declared his campaign yet.
It's also relevant that House speakers, Democrat and Republican, regularly exert influence over which legislation is heard and which is not.
"There are many members in the House who have bills that haven’t yet received a hearing, including the speaker, by the way," said Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for Tillis. "He (Pittman) is in good company."
Pittman also complains in the video that the recently passed voter ID bill isn't as strict as it should be because House leaders were “squeamish” about how their actions were being perceived.
Democrats immediately pounced on the video.
“The more we learn about how 'Stoplight Thom' Tillis uses his public office for personal gain, the more questions are raised for North Carolina voters,” said Ben Ray, a spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party. “Why did he give a red light to equal pay for women and expanding Medicaid but a green one to cutting unemployment insurance and eliminating the earned income tax credit? Will he ever give a green light to a jobs plan? North Carolina deserves leaders focused on helping middle-class families, not their own political campaigns.”