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Political notebook: Expected gubernatorial candidates to come under fire for transparency

Perhaps we should dedicate July 20 to July 24 to government transparency.

Two of North Carolina’s expected candidates for governor in 2016 were criticized, one even becoming the subject of a lawsuit, this week for their compliance with transparency laws.

The North Carolina Republican Party this week engaged in war of words with Attorney General Roy Cooper over public records. Similarly, multiple media organizations filed a lawsuit against Gov. Pat McCrory.

The Republican Party threatened to take legal action if Cooper didn’t begin releasing correspondence from his time as attorney general. The party in March specifically requested all emails sent and received by Cooper, any correspondence between Cooper and the state legislature, correspondence between Cooper and the governor or lieutenant governor from 2001 to 2013.

Cooper’s office, the Department of Justice, responded that more than 14,000 pages have been produced and are waiting in a conference room to be reviewed. Responding to the threat, the department said two representatives from the GOP had visited the office in May, and the documents remain available.

Cooper is expected to run for governor.

Meanwhile, the current governor, McCrory, this week became the subject of a lawsuit with plaintiffs that include: Capitol Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WRAL; the News & Observer; the Alamance News; the Southern Environmental Law Center; the Durham-based alternative weekly Indy Week; and Media General Operations, which owns WNCN-TV in Raleigh and WNCT-TV in Greenville.

The lawsuit seeking release of the various records. Specifically, the suit states ” The defendants’ repeated, concerted and systematic violations of the Public Records Law described above have resulted in myriad instances in which the plaintiffs effectively have been denied access to public records despite the defendants’ tacit acknowledgement that the requested records are public.”

Among the public records requests are ones pertaining to McCrory’s and his cabinet members’ travels, correspondence regarding the sale of the Dorthea Dix property in Raleigh, the expansion of I-77 by adding toll lanes, emails sent during specific time periods and salary freezes at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Former Salisbury Mayor and Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz is named in the suit.

Trump still leads national GOP field

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump is still on top.

Trump has come under fire for multiple comments. First, it was a statement during his campaign announcement about immigrants. Then, Trump said U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Az., wasn’t a war hero.

“I like people that weren’t captured, OK?,” Trump said at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa.

Despite the comments, the latest data from Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling shows Trump with a 2 percent lead over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for president. Trump has 19 percent of the vote in the poll. Walker has 17 percent. In third is Jeb Bush at 12 percent.

In a summary of its results, the organization states “Trump’s lead comes despite the fact that only 22 percent of Republicans agree with the comments he made about John McCain over the weekend.”

The same data shows Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton has 57 percent of support in her race. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is second with 22 percent.

For its poll, PPP surveyed 1,087 voters nationally. Those polled included 524 Republican primary voters and 496 Democratic primary voters.

House Reps. vote on Santuary Cities Act

U.S. House Representatives who have districts in Rowan split by a 2-1 count this week in a vote over a bill that would punish “sanctuary cities.”

U.S. Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-5, and Richard Hudson, R-8, voted in favor of the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act. U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-12, voted against the act, which would ban “sanctuary cities” from receiving taxpayer-funded grants from the U.S. Department of Justice. “Sanctuary cities” get their nickname because policies exist in the municipalities to shelter illegal immigrants from deportation.

The bill passed the U.S. House by a count of 241 to 179. The White House, however, has threatened to veto the bill.

The cities have received significant attention after a woman was killed in California by an immigrant who had a criminal history and was deported five times.

Hudson called the House’s bill a necessary step to ensure immigration law is followed.

“I believe we must continue to work to secure our border first and fix our immigration system in a thoughtful way that respects those who do things the right way — not those who break the law,” Hudson said.

Hudson’s emailed statement included statistics provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The statistics said ICE released 30,558 criminal illegal immigrants with a total of 79,059 convictions in Fiscal Year 2014. Of those released in Fiscal Year 2014, more than 1,400 of these criminal illegal immigrants committed additional crimes after being released by ICE, according to the statistics provided by Hudson.

Foxx, after voting for the act, said the act is a good first step, but more must be done.

“It’s time to stop President (Barack) Obama from shutting down immigration enforcement,” Foxx said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

 

 

 

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