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Honestly, who isn't?


We all know how, after Citizens United, the GOP is the most free-speech-friendly party ever, as long as the speech is in the form of undisclosed contributions to Republican-friendly political groups. They are absolutely opposed to any government interference in free speech (especially campaign finance limits), because they're such lovers of the First Amendment and the corporate people it was written to protect. So it's kind of surprising that the North Carolina GOP finally found evidence of a totally inappropriate corporate contribution to Democrat Roy Cooper, who's narrowly leading Gov. Pat McCrory going into next week's election. And what was that outrageous violation of campaign finance laws? A newspaper's public forum on North Carolina's transgender potty law, HB2, which McCrory signed and has sued to defend, and which Cooper wants to flush.

In a complaint to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the state GOP asked the state to shut down the November 2 forum, sponsored by the Charlotte Observer and featuring speakers who supported and opposed HB2. The R's argued the forum constituted an "improper campaign contribution" to Cooper, because Reasons. Spoiler warning: the Republican complaint failed, and the forum went ahead just fine. But only against the NC GOP's most strenuous objections that the bipartisan event was, in fact, very very partisan indeed.

Among other wrongdoing, the complaint notes that the event was co-sponsored by the Charlotte Observer and by Red Ventures, LLC, whose CEO, Ric Elias, had contributed to Cooper's campaign. Elias had also publicly stated his opposition to HB 2 -- just like lots and lots of North Carolina business owners have, because it's a terrible law that's bad for business. But in the complaint, those contributions were proof the forum was secretly a campaign event for Cooper, even though supporters of HB 2 had equal time during the program. We don't recall many campaign events which invite the other candidate to offer a rebuttal -- when that happens, it's usually called a "debate."

Oh, but the complaint gets even loopier: it argues that since Elias plans to let his employees have time off to vote on election day, that too is proof of a pro-Cooper slant, since obviously he's only letting them have time off to "vote for Roy Cooper and other democrat candidates," duh. And just to grasp at any available straw, the complaint says the forum would include discussion of polling done by Public Policy Polling, which is even more proof of a pro-Cooper slant, since PPP "conducts opinion polling that has an [sic] bias in favor of the Democrat Party" (make your own "PPP pee poll" joke here). Ergo, in the seamless logic of the North Carolina GOP, the state had to prevent the forum from going forward, since it was actually a clandestine corporate contribution to the Cooper campaign:

While this event is being advertised as nothing more than a forum, its proximity in time to the general election and its focus on an issue repeatedly raised by the democrat party and Roy Cooper belies the true purpose and motivation behind the event. … [A] forum sponsored by a corporation owned and operated by known and substantial Roy Cooper supporters, assisted by a [sic] opinion polling company that is openly biased towards the democrat party and its candidates, and hosted by a newspaper publishing company who has publicly endorsed Roy Cooper and numerous democrat candidates [qualifies] as a “contribution.”

So even though supporters of HB 2 would have equal time, the fact that HB 2 is a major talking point for Cooper makes the whole event an illegal campaign contribution, or at the very least an "independent expenditure" on his behalf. The complaint demanded the forum be "immediately canceled, and the entities be appropriately sanctioned.” That's not an attempt at censorship, that's merely keeping an even playing field.

As we already spoilered you, the elections board didn't intervene and the event went ahead anyway, featuring a vigorous discussion of whether the government has any business telling people which restroom they can pee in. Still, it's pretty significant the Republicans worried a balanced discussion of HB 2 would constitute a tacit donation to Cooper, since HB 2 is far less popular than Pat McCrory, and his support for the measure was hurting him. There goes reality and its liberal bias again.

The race has tightened somewhat in the last weeks, partly in response to the perception that McCrory did well in handling the state's response to Hurricane Matthew, which went wherever it wanted. Democrats should keep that in mind, and demand the Board of Elections not allow too much media coverage of hurricanes if they occur too close to Election Day.

[Slate / Charlotte Observer / LAT]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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