The Insider is reporting that prosecutors say the mystery donor who loaned Jim Black $500,000 was Don Beason.

From the site, a partial list of clients:

* AT&T Wireless
* Albemarle Mental Health Centers
* Barr Laboratories
* BB&T Financial
* BellSouth
* Bombardier
* Canadair
* Catawba County
* Charlotte Regional Partnership
* Cingular Wireless
* City of Hickory
* Colonial Insurance Company
* Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
* Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
* Ernst & Young
* Film Production Alliance
* First Union Corporation
* League of Landscape Architects
* Maple Leaf Sports, Inc.
* Microelectronics Center (MCNC)
* National Institute for Statistical Sciences
* North Carolina Association of Health Plans
* North Carolina Motorcycle Dealers Association
* North Carolina Natural Gas Company
* North Carolina Propane Gas Association
* North Carolina Railroad Company
* North Carolina Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association
* North Carolina Restaurant Association
* Ovations
* Primary Health Care Association
* Printing Industry of NC
* Progress Energy
* S & M Brands
* Special Olympics World Games
* Unisys Corporation
* United Health Group
* United States Corrections Corporation

Pretend power plants

One minute round-robin of folks lining up against Senate Bill 3.

If they pass this thing, they can’t say they weren’t warned about it.

TWC: To the wire

This week’s column is about the doin’s on Jones Street this week and misbehaving reps (and former reps).

Not a stalemate, but not exactly a sprint to the finish either.

The state budget is close to done, but with a few major items – mostly on the revenue side – yet to be ironed out. So, how long before the deal is struck?

The president pro tem of the Senate says it could be a good be a long discussion. The governor says get on with it. And the speaker of the NC House says predictions are pretty useless.

Read more

TWC: The 0.4 percent horror

The 0.4 percent horror
I was just a kid when it happened, and I can’t imagine what it was like to experience it, let alone live through it. But driving through what is left of Cary, with its dark, crumbling cul-de-sacs and boarded up split-levels, you get a feel for the devastation of 2007.

Like Smoot-Hawley, the impact of the real estate transfer tax had consequences far beyond the reckoning of politicians and it brought down a surging, vibrant economy in one swift act of legislation. It’s not like they weren’t warned. I got a glimpse of the beginning of the end times at Ray’s Number Two, a little dive in a corner of a former Bed, Bath and Beyond in an almost deserted mall.

Read more

TWC: Hot Greendogs

. . . just in time for summer.

Did progressives in North Carolina get screwed by Democratic successes in the past election?

That’s the uncomfortable question being asked around the state by people who thought that an increased margin would give Dems enough confidence to advance key issues, mainly in the area of health care.

But in a turn that reveals the mysterious physics of politics, the increase of a majority in the legislature – mainly in the Senate – has sent state policy into retrograde in a couple of key areas.

Instead of the relatively thin six- and eight-seat majorities of the last two sessions, the results of the 2006 election boosted the Senate margin to 31 to 19 – a much more comfortable 12 seats.

The simple part of the new equation is that with a much wider majority it is no longer a case of needing every last Democratic vote. And rather than the GOP being intimidated, they’ve used this to drive a wedge or two into the Democratic caucus.

They know they’re not going to win the hot-button issues – yet – but the ones where there are plenty of pro-business Dems to join forces with are falling their way.

That’s why we’re getting an energy bill with lovely perks for major power companies and have seen health care bill after health care bill gutted or skewed so as to not anger those with the key to the PAC safes.

The other part of the equation, the one with lots of Greek letters and squiggles, is the balancing act of those in precarious seats. In the West, where the Dems won in large part thanks to a surge of progressives voters out to unseat a sitting GOP congressman, the senators that won are facing competitive races and, perhaps, feel a need for the kind of money that business PACs bring to the table.

Then there’s David Hoyle, a Democrat in what is arguably a solid Republican district and a prime example of why progressives are far from the short rows in convincing senators of their clout. Hoyle, a finance co-chair and a key member of the Senate leadership team, has long had a way of sounding the alarm that too progressive a tack would mortally wound him politically.

This even though he ran unopposed in 2006 and won by a handful of percentage points in 2004 when George Bush carried his Gaston County district by more than 2 to 1. Yet Hoyle, now in his eighth term, seems to always be firmly focused on his next election. And since, like most of the leadership, he contributed tens of thousands raised for his ’06 cakewalk to senators in close races, he’s got the ear of many.

So, progressives watching this session with high hopes that the General Assembly would, say, embrace universal health care or cut an energy deal that isn’t loaded with Easter eggs for Duke and Progress are going to be disappointed.

But what are they going to do about it?

Among the greendogs and others, there may be some grousing about the situation, but not much action, and the kind of primary fratricide going on between factions of the state GOP seems unlikely.

Being a little choosier with campaign dollars is one option, but for those already dependent on PAC money, a shift in netroot and progressive giving isn’t going to have much of an impact – at least not, you know, according to Hoyle.

Poll vault

Ed points to a bit of a back and forth over what Liddy’s recent poll number mean.

Here’s a little story ’bout that:

Back in 1998 when Lauch Faircloth was running for re-election, I asked a political consultant, who had been a key player in Bill Clinton’s southern strategy in 1992, what he thought of the race. If I recall the timing, John Edwards was just getting into it and a lot of people thought he was going to just blow a ton of money on a vanity run.

The consultant told me that Faircloth was going to get his clock cleaned. The key number for him was name recognition – or, rather the lack of it. Faircloth was only around 43 points.

I’d have to agree that a 46 percent favorable is not good for an incumbent, but I’d really like to know how many people are even aware she’s our Senator. Pundits are by nature a little bubble-bound and political operatives even more so.

Wonder what Senator Jack Murphy‘s numbers would be like?

Sentencing wrap

Plenty to look at corruption fans.

N&O sentencing sketches.

Char-O on the story

LL on Black and (possibly) the next big corruption story

Sexton is not so kind the, uh, contrite former Speaker

So, who is the lobbyist?

Update: Bob Hall just sent this out:

Good people:

Statement from Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, regarding the sentencing of former House Speaker Jim Black:

The ugly story of former Speaker Jim Black’s abuse of power is not yet finished. New evidence of possible corruption involving a high-powered lobbyist linked to the video-poker industry demands the immediate and full
attention of state and federal prosecutors.

From the beginning, Democracy North Carolina has pushed to hold the donors of illegal money accountable, not just the politicians. Now, with the revelation of a $500,000 “loan” from a video-poker lobbyist, we have come full circle from our original complaint in June 2004 alleging a conspiracy by the video-poker industry to funnel illegal donations into Jim Black’s
campaign. Our complaint prompted the State Board of Elections to obtain the bank records of Jim Black’s campaign and, with other investigators, begin to unravel a nasty web of wrongdoing that supported federal subpoenas,
hearings, indictments, and state and federal convictions. We congratulate and thank all of these government officials for pursuing this case. Read more

Black sentencing at 9 a.m.

Former House Speaker Jim Black is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. today.

Meanwhile, more revelations on his actions via the Char-O:

Former House Speaker Jim Black accepted a $500,000 check from a lobbyist in 2000, deposited the check into his campaign account and then misrepresented the transaction as a personal loan, federal prosecutors say.
The potentially damaging revelation was disclosed for the first time in court papers filed Monday.