NC church whose pastor says women that wear shorts invite rape has received millions in public tax dollars for school vouchers

A Union County pastor is under fire for saying from the pulpit that he would not convict a rapist if his victim were wearing shorts. And if you’re a taxpayer in North Carolina, you are funding his organization.

Bobby Leonard started Bible Tabernacle Church in Monroe, NC in 1970. This week a clip of an August 2023 sermon by Leonard was shared on Twitter by @BadSermons:

“If you dress like that and you get raped, and I’m on the jury, he’s gonna go free…I can’t help if you don’t like it, I’m right. Cause, y’know, a man’s a man. A man’s a man.”

Under the leadership of Bobby Leonard, Bible Tabernacle Church opened a private school called Tabernacle Christian School in 1972. This school receives public tax dollars via the Opportunity Scholarship school voucher program which was created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2014.

Tabernacle Christian School has received voucher dollars every school year since 2014-15 for a grand total of $3,649,766 in public taxpayer funds (that data available here).

In the past two years alone, Bobby Leonard’s organization has received nearly $2,000,000 ($902,315 in 2023-24 and $923,328 in 2022-23).

In 2023 North Carolina’s state legislature achieved a veto-proof supermajority by flipping a legislator, then tripled funding for school vouchers, the vast majority of which to go private religious schools. By 2031 more than half a billion dollars a year in public funding will be going to these organizations.

I would venture to say that the vast majority of North Carolinians would prefer NOT to have their hard-earned tax dollars subsidizing institutions that espouse hateful and violent philosophies like Bobby Leonard’s.

Unfortunately, private schools are legally permitted to discriminate against students based on factors like religious beliefs and sexual orientation, even when they’re receiving public funding.

And discriminate they do.

This voucher-receiving school in Fayetteville, NC specifically bans “Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, non Messianic Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists” and refers to homosexuality as “deviate [sic] and perverted.”

Freedom Christian, also in Fayetteville, only takes students whose parents have a “vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ” and who demonstrate “a desire to learn.” It’s unclear whether Freedom Christian uses a rubric to objectively measure the vibrance of that relationship.

If the notion of your money ending up in the pockets of Bobby Leonard or any of these other institutions that discriminates against children makes your skin crawl, please be ready to channel that energy into electing pro-public education candidates in 2024.

That’s our only way out of this nightmare.



NC Superintendent Truitt once vowed to oppose voucher expansion, now publicly celebrates their tripling

This week was School Choice Week, a nationwide event dreamed up by a nonprofit whose stated mission is to “advance positive school choice messaging across the nation.”

Joining in North Carolina’s celebration was a jubilant Senator Phil Berger, still grinning about how his stolen supermajority this past session ensured Governor Cooper couldn’t veto terrible Republican policies. Another featured speaker at the event was State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt.

The party on Halifax Mall revolved around recent changes in school voucher law in North Carolina. Those changes include tripling existing funding of vouchers which primarily go to private religious schools as well as the elimination of eligibility requirements for voucher recipients.

Prior to the change in law, vouchers were only available for families who demonstrated financial need and whose children had attended public schools or were entering K, 1st or 2nd grade. The new law allows anyone to receive voucher money regardless of their family’s income and regardless of where they’ve gone to school.

That means taxpayers are now forced to subsidize private school tuition for North Carolina’s wealthiest families, even those who have never considered sending their children to traditional public schools and never would.

The private schools that NC taxpayers are supporting are legally able to discriminate against children. Many of them refuse admission to non-Christians or LGBTQ+ individuals.

A lot of the voucher-receiving schools also refuse to accept students with learning disabilities.

The massive increase in school voucher funding means that, by the year 2031, North Carolina will be diverting more than a half billion dollars a year to vouchers.

That’s funding our crumbling traditional public schools sorely need.

According to North Carolina’s Office for State Budget and Management, the changes in voucher law could drain 8% of public school funding if just half of the new vouchers go to students who currently attend public schools.

What kind of education leader would celebrate the schools that the vast majority of our students attend losing funding at a time when those schools are struggling mightly after a decade plus of Republican policies?

The answer to that question is State Superintendent Catherine Truitt.

But it didn’t used to be.

In 2020, when she was running against then-Representative Craig Horn in the primary for superintendent, Truitt promised that she would oppose any attempts by state legislators to expand funding of school vouchers.

Fast forward to the present.

Now Truitt is superintendent, running for reelection in a party whose bosses can decide whether they want to help fund her campaign.

Truitt did not utter a protest peep this summer when expansion of voucher funding was in draft form. And now she’s out there pounding metaphorical coffin nails into traditional public schools with Senator Phil Berger, the man who has ironclad control of the Republican machine in North Carolina.

North Carolina schools need a leader who will fight for our needs, not a flip flopper who cheers our demise. Not someone who celebrates discrimination against children or helps move our education system toward privatization of a human right.

In other words, in 2024 we need to elect a new State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Alleged campaign finance crimes haunt North Carolina’s Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Mark Robinson

North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is no stranger to financial struggles.  

Since he was elected in 2020, news has emerged about Robinson being evicted for not paying rent (his elderly landlord decided against pursuing the case, partly because he was busy caring for his wife who was ill with cancer).  

We’ve also learned that Robinson stiffed Guilford County on vehicle taxes for multiple years, only making good after WRAL called him out on it in 2022.  (Robinson’s lame response was “I’m not very good at math,” as if complex calculations are required to know that the law requires North Carolina residents to pay taxes on an annual basis.)

Part of Robinson’s appeal to voters is his down-to-earth image, and I’m sure plenty of his supporters and detractors alike can relate to the problem of more month than money.

But how many of us can relate to criminal violations of campaign finance law?

This week those allegations surfaced in the form of an open letter to Mark Robinson by veteran political watchdog Bob Hall.

The story actually goes back to a complaint Hall filed with North Carolina’s State Board of Elections about a month after Robinson was inaugurated Lieutenant Governor in 2021. 

Hall had been tipped off by a News and Observer reporter and asked to look into some odd expenses that had been filed by Robinson’s campaign.  What Hall discovered amounted to more than a half million dollars of what he termed “criminal violations” of campaign finance law.

Here are some highlights:

Illegal cash withdrawals deposited to State Employees Credit Union where separate records show Robinson had a personal loan

$4500 to Robinson’s wife Yolanda Hill for “campaign apparel”

$2375 to Lake Gaston Outfitters for “campaign clothing and accessories.”  Lake Gaston Outfitters bills itself as offering “high quality paddle, hiking & cycling gear.”  

$12,000 in illegal contributions from out of state PACs and organizations not authorized to donate in North Carolina

Illegal donations over the campaign limit of $5400 from which the excess amounts were not refunded to donors as law required

Failure to properly identify 258 donors (totalling $360,000 in donations) 

There’s more.  A lot more.

After Hall’s complaint was filed, a Robinson campaign staffer said “We are transitioning to new staff, and our team is in the process of working with the NCSBE to fix any and all mistakes, and to amend our reports to be accurate and up to date.”

Hall’s open letter notes Robinson promised the “clerical errors” would be fixed “quick, fast and in a hurry.”  Now almost three years after he assumed office, exactly zero amended reports have been filed.  The State Board of Elections investigation is presumably still moving along at a glacial pace.

And Mark Robinson is in the middle of a campaign to assume the highest office in North Carolina, our next governor.

You can read Bob Hall’s complaint filed with the State Board of Elections below:

Complaint-Mark-Robinson-SBOE

Notorious antisemite Mark Robinson feigns support for Israel in disingenuous bid to win votes

North Carolina’s most notorious antisemite is willing to do whatever it takes to become our next governor. So in the wake of last month’s Hamas attack, Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson pulled out all the stops to show everyone just how much he loves Israel.

Robinson waited until actual NC Governor Roy Cooper left for a trip to Japan to hold an “acting governor” dress-up event where he declared North Carolina’s solidarity with Israel.

Proclamation

This week Robinson took his charade on the road, traveling to Israel with the North Carolina chapter of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group that Donald Trump described as “the largest faith based get out the vote organization in modern American history.”

And that’s exactly what Robinson’s actions over the last month are about–his desire to win votes and become the next governor of North Carolina.

Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” Since long before he needed votes, Mark Robinson has been showing us exactly who he is.

He’s a man who has repeatedly downplayed the Holocaust, shared antisemitic tropes, and used Yiddish insults to mock Jewish politicians.

In one post, Robinson put quotation marks around the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust, implying the figure was inflated.

In another he referred to discussing Nazis as a waste of time.

And in yet another Robinson called accounts of Jews being taken to concentration camps “hogwash.”

Robinson has called opposition to Donald Trump as a “globalist” conspiracy, employing a term typically used to refer to Jews who are seen as using their elite international connections to weaken Western society–an idea that was at the core of Nazi ideology.

Robinson used antisemitic tropes in a rant against the film Black Panther, which he said was “created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by satanic marxist” before employing the well-worn racist stereotype about Jewish people’s desire for money.

At the press conference last month where he dressed up as governor, Robinson was forced to spend most of his time defending his long history of antisemitic rhetoric to deeply skeptical reporters. The Lieutenant Governor said some of his previous comments were “poorly worded” and did not “convey [his] real sentiments.”

That’s hogwash.

Mark Robinson’s real sentiments are the ones he expressed over and over and over before he needed North Carolinians’ votes.

Don’t fall for the okey doke. The last thing North Carolina needs is an antisemite in the governor’s mansion.

NC State Superintendent Catherine Truitt refuses to disclose “outside counsel” in controversial charter school decision

At the November 2 meeting of the North Carolina State Board of Education, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt was pressed on her decision to not appeal the controversial approval of American Leadership Academy Monroe.

ALA Monroe will be managed by out-of-state for-profit charter operator Charter One, and Truitt received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in June from representatives of this corporation–shortly after changes in state law gave her authority to appeal approval or denial of charters.

The State Board of Education had previously denied ALA Monroe’s charter on two occasions, voicing concerns about conflicts of interest in the school’s governance, rapid expansion of Charter One into North Carolina without sufficient evidence of academic success, and drawbacks of giving public tax dollars to an out-of-state corporation.

State Board Vice Chair Alan Duncan asked Superintendent Truitt to explain who advised her not to appeal the decision and why she did not consult staff attorneys at the Department of Public Instruction or the State Board of Education.

Truitt refused to disclose which attorneys she had consulted.

State Board Vice Chair Alan Duncan: “…Who was the outside attorney that you apparently relied upon for providing the responses given?”

Superintendent Catherine Truitt: “Our legal counsel, as wonderful as they are, are not experts in charter school law. And I would argue that no one on this board is an expert in charter school law. And so I turned to outside counsel who are experts in charter school law, and I’m happy to have that conversation with you offline.”

You can read the entire background on the Charter One-North Carolina controversy including Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson’s involvement here.

For-profit charter school operators grease NC politicians’ palms to ensure they get a piece of the pie

image by John deVille

Representatives of an Arizona-based for-profit charter school operator have been writing campaign checks to North Carolina elected officials who are in positions to guarantee our tax dollars keep flowing their direction.

Both Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt have received thousands from these charter operators in the past few months.

But as we all know, gifts of money often come with expectations.

***

2023 has been a particularly grueling year in North Carolina for fans of public education and democracy. 

Heading into this year’s long session, Democrats had held off a Republican supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly by the thinnest of margins–just one seat in the House.

That all changed in April when Mecklenburg County Representative Tricia Cotham betrayed her donors, volunteers and voters by changing parties just months after being elected as a progressive Democrat.

Cotham’s betrayal guaranteed that, if the GOP voted in lockstep, Republicans could pass any law they wanted to without worrying about a gubernatorial veto.

What followed was a veritable avalanche of terrible policy.

Among many other changes which are not the focus of this article, state lawmakers stripped the State Board of Education of its authority to approve or deny charter school applications. 

This drastic move followed the board’s denial on two occasions of a charter for American Leadership Academy in Monroe, a school managed by an well-connected out-of-state company and on whose school board Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson’s wife happens to hold a seat.

But of course in North Carolina that could never be the end of the story.

Timeline of American Leadership Academy Monroe charter shenanigans:

Spring 2022:

Arizona-based for-profit charter management company Charter One completes a “fast track” application to open a charter school called American Leadership Academy in Monroe, NC in one year rather than the standard two years it normally takes to receive approval.  

The ALA Monroe application lists Wyoming attorney Mitchell Schwab as the school’s board chair.  The board includes Yolanda Hill, wife of Lieutenant Governor and voting member of the State Board of Education Mark Robinson.  Longtime NC charter proponent Gregg Sinders is listed as a point of contact.  Unsurprisingly, Charter One is named as the school’s education management organization (EMO).

(Side note:  an application for American Leadership Academy in Garner completed the same day shows an identical board.)

Yolanda Hill explains on the application that she was specifically recruited by Charter One for participation on the board.  That raises an important question: Why would this out-of-state company want Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson’s wife involved?  She doesn’t live in Union County where the school will be located, and she has no prior experience serving on a school board.

The ALA Monroe application is officially submitted for review in June 2022. 

Background on Charter One:

Charter One was founded by Arizona businessman Glenn Way.  Way is a native of Utah and served in that state’s legislature before resigning when his wife took out a protective order against him, alleging he had threatened her life in front of their five children.

Way then moved to Arizona where his charter management business exploded thanks to lax charter regulations and no-bid contracts, and in recent years he’s been expanding into North Carolina.

Charter One’s current North Carolina schools include Wake Preparatory Academy in Wake Forest, Bonnie Cone Leadership Academy in Huntersville, and American Leadership Academy campuses in Clayton and Wilmington.

Way’s business practices involve purchasing land, building schools on them and then selling them to the American Leadership Academy company where he served as chair.  (This very informative post explains exactly how the real estate side of Way’s business model works.)   A 2019 Arizona Republic investigation turned up numerous examples of American Leadership Academy paying millions in public dollars to companies owned by Way or his relatives, including a company his son owns that supplies athletic clothing and apparel. 

Asked whether the charter industry was an appropriate way to make money, Way responded, “It’s no different than building a Walmart.”

But back to the North Carolina timeline.

December 2022:

The North Carolina State Board of Education denies American Leadership Academy Monroe’s charter.  Board members are concerned about giving state money to a for-profit corporation (ALA Monroe would be sending 15% of its state and potentially also federal funding to Charter One).  The board is also wary of Charter One’s rapid expansion in NC without sufficient evidence of academic success, as well as ALA Monroe’s proposed governance structure.

So what’s wrong with the governance structure?

Well, it turns out that Mitchell Schwab, who you may recall is listed as the board chair on ALA Monroe’s application, is also an attorney for a law firm that is closely linked with Charter One.  Schwab’s LinkedIn page shows he’s been employed by Denali Law since May 2020, first in Arizona where Charter One is headquartered and then in Afton, Wyoming from September 2021 to present, with a specialization in charter school law listed.  Schwab is also named as the primary Charter One company official in the NC Secretary of State’s business database.

In a July 2023 interview, Schwab explained that his work for Charter One included expanding the organization into North and South Carolina “along with another attorney.”

Denali is a small firm with just three attorneys listed, including one Michael Way who happens to be Glenn Way’s son.  More on Michael later.

January 2023:

American Leadership Academy Monroe’s application for a charter is brought back in early January for reconsideration.  As few of the prior concerns have been addressed, the State Board again rejects the application at its January 5 meeting.

On January 19 the John Locke Foundation mouthpiece Carolina Journal publishes an op-ed by Michael Way decrying the State Board’s decision, painting Charter One as the victim of a political agenda and vowing to continue the fight.  Presumably Way is referring to both the fight for school choice and the fight for fat stacks of North Carolina taxpayer money.

As an interesting side note, Way’s bio on the op-ed says he, “​​along with his wife and four children, has grown deep roots and an appreciation for their home in the greater Raleigh area.”  Indeed, Wake County property records show that both Michael and his brother Jordan purchased homes in Wake Forest NC in the spring of 2021.  However, Michael’s root-measuring skills appear to be somewhat lacking as both homes were put up for sale in October 2023, and a Wake Preparatory Academy Facebook post indicates the brothers have moved back to Arizona. 

February and March 2023:

February 8: NC Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is keynote speaker at an “Explore School Choice” event in Arizona organized by Charter One.

Beginning that same day, Robinson receives $24,400 in campaign donations from people employed by Charter One.  Remember that in addition to serving as LG, Robinson is a voting member of the State Board of Education and GOP frontrunner to be the state’s next governor, and his wife sits on the boards of three American Leadership Academy charter schools in North Carolina.  

Here are the 2023 Charter One Robinson donations to date:

Nathan Hunsaker C1 SE VP Charter One Knightdale, NC 2/8/2023 $5000 

William Guttery, CEO Charter One Queen Creek, AZ 2/9/2023 $5000 

Robert Plowman, Finance Charter One Gilbert, AZ 2/9/2023 $5000 

Michael Way Education Charter One Wake Forest, NC  2/23/2023 $3600

Gregg Sinders, Director Charter One Holly Springs, NC 3/26/2023 $800

Jordan Way Education Charter One Wake Forest, NC  3/28/2023 $5000

You can review Mark Robinson’s 2023 campaign donations for yourself here, retrieved from the NC State Board of Elections website.

(This is not the first time Robinson has received money from Charter One folks. In 2021 he got a total of $8500, the majority of it from Gregg Sinders and $2800 from Michael Way. Coincidentally enough, that same year he headlined a ribbon cutting ceremony for American Leadership Academy Coastal in Wilmington.)

March 2023:

Union County senators Todd Johnson and David Craven file a bill that would force the State Board of Education to approve the charter application of ALA Monroe (Monroe lies in Union County). 

A spokesperson for Charter One tells WCNC that the company “worked in conjunction with the board of directors for ALA Monroe and the two lawmakers to make the bill possible.

The bill is sent to the Senate rules committee and never emerges.

April 2023:

Three days after formally switching her party registration from Democrat to Republican, Representative Tricia Cotham files HB 618, a bill which would take away the State Board of Education’s power to approve or deny charter applications and instead give that responsibility to the Charter School Review Board.  The  Charter School Review Board has 11 voting members–8 appointed by the General Assembly, 2 appointed by the State Board of Education who must be advocates for charter schools and the final member is…wait for it…the Lieutenant Governor (or his designee).

The bill also gives the State Superintendent (currently Republican Catherine Truitt who happens to be running for reelection next year) authority to appeal decisions of the Charter School Review Board within 10 days of the Review Board’s decision.

June 2023:

HB 618 passes the House and the Senate and is ratified on June 28.

Catherine Truitt receives the maximum donations allowed by law from two Charter One employees:

Gregg Sinders, Director Charter One Holly Springs, NC 6/29/2023 $6400

Glenn Way Founder Charter One Queen Creek, AZ 6/30/2023 $6400

You read that right: the big guy himself, Charter One founder Glenn Way, donated the maximum possible amount to the political campaign of our state superintendent just two days after a bill making her the only person who could appeal approval of ALA Monroe’s charter is ratified.

You can review Catherine Truitt’s 2023 campaign donations for yourself here, retrieved from the NC State Board of Elections website.

July 2023:

Governor Cooper vetoes HB 618, noting in a statement that the law appears to violate the state constitution:

“The North Carolina Constitution clearly gives the State Board of Education the oversight authority for public schools, including charter schools. This bill is a legislative power grab that turns that responsibility over to a commission of political friends and extremists appointed by Republican legislators, making it more likely that faulty or failing charter schools will be allowed to operate and shortchange their students. Oversight of charter schools should be conducted by education experts not partisan politicians.”

August 2023:  

State lawmakers override Cooper’s veto and HB 618 becomes law.  Authority in approving or denying charter applications now rests with the Charter School Review Board.

September 2023:

The State Board of Education passes a new policy requiring charter schools to demonstrate their compliance with finance law before receiving state funds. 

Under this policy, the Charter School Review Board must submit details about school funding for charter schools seeking initial approval or renewal to the State Board.  The State Board will then review those documents before disbursing funds to the schools.

Despite having recused himself from discussion and voting on the American Leadership Academy Monroe matter in December 2022 and January 2023, Mark Robinson does NOT recuse himself this time and votes against the policy.

State Board members are reminded by the chair at the outset of each meeting that “it is [their] duty to avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest as we handle the work of the Board” and “to abstain from participating in discussion on the matter and from voting on the matter.”

Voting on a policy that could make it more difficult for the schools your wife helps lead to secure funding constitutes a clear conflict of interest, especially when you’ve recently received nearly $25,000 in campaign contributions from the people who run and profit financially from those schools.

October 2023:

WBTV reports that Lieutenant Governor Robinson failed to disclose on his 2023 ethics filing that his wife now sits on the boards of the three Charter One-managed American Leadership Academy schools.  Obviously the law requires that change to be disclosed on the mandatory annual Statement of Economic Interest.

October 17:  The newly empowered Charter School Review Board approves American Leadership Academy Monroe’s charter application.

Ten days pass with no appeal from Superintendent Truitt.  She may have been too busy counting her $12,800 to file one.

***

It appears that Glenn Way is up to his old double dipping real estate tricks when it comes to American Leadership Academy Monroe.

The ALA Monroe charter application lists the landlord of the school’s “build to suit” lease as SH Monroe LLC and the individual landlord as one Scott Brand, with an email address at the domain schooldev.us.  SH seems likely to stand for “Schoolhouse,” and Glenn Way’s primary real estate development company is Arizona-based Schoolhouse Development LLC.  Schoolhouse Development’s website (schooldev.us) lists Way and Scott Brand as that company’s principals.  

SH Monroe LLC was registered in Utah in December 2018 and in North Carolina in January 2019.  The Utah listing displays only Scott Brand as agent, but the North Carolina LLC database shows that one of the company’s managers is none other than…Charter One founder Glenn Way.

Curiously, the same North Carolina LLC database which is housed on the NC Secretary of State’s website shows that Charter One Southeast, LLC had its license to transact business in the state of North Carolina revoked on February 28, 2023 for failure to file an annual report. 

It’s unclear how this company can continue to operate in our state without a license.

Unfortunately the saga above seems likely to repeat itself over and over in North Carolina. 

Republican state legislators have gerrymandered their way into a stranglehold on power for the foreseeable future.  Their policies have created a pathway for their rapacious out-of-state benefactors to sell our families a subpar product while filling their pockets with millions in North Carolina’s public tax dollars.

Contrary to what Charter One founder Glenn Way and, apparently, Mark Robinson, Catherine Truitt and all the other North Carolina elected officials who are facilitating this grift fest in our state believe, public education is not Walmart.  It is a constitutional right that can alter our students’ life trajectories and offer them wonderful opportunities if adequately funded.  

Regardless of how bleak North Carolina’s current political landscape appears, that’s something worth fighting for.

Moms for Liberty attempt to remove books from Charlotte high school fails

Here’s some excellent news to kick off Banned Books Week.

An attempt by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Moms for Liberty chair to have five books banned from the Ardrey Kell High School media center has failed.

The school’s School Media Advisory Committee determined that all five books will be retained in the media center, and the objecting parent is free to restrict their own child’s access to those titles as permitted by district policy.

Students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools were not allowed to check out books for the first two weeks of school while the district waited to hear objections. The library pause came in response to Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly passing a “Parents Bill of Rights” law which, among many other things, requires superintendents to create a process for objections and provide parents with access to student library records.

After two weeks with more than 140,000 students at 181 schools having no access to media centers, only five objections were lodged.

According to WSOC, all the objections were filed at one school (Ardrey Kell High School) by the same parent. Unsurprisingly, she also happens to be the chair of the local Moms for Liberty chapter, Brooke Weiss. (Moms for Liberty has embarked on a nation-wide crusade to ban books from school libraries.)

Committee meeting notes requested by Weiss and posted to the CMS public records request page show that, after thoughtful consideration and robust discussion, the committee decided to retain all five books in the Ardrey Kell media center. The committee noted that the objecting parent “may use policy to restrict access for their student by request.”

It’s good to see efforts to restrict other people’s children from having access to high-quality, diverse reading materials fail.

You can read the Ardrey Kell School Media Advisory Committee notes below:

Ardrey-Kell-School-Media-Advisory-Committee-Objection-Decision-Meeting.pdf-redacted

NC legislator exiled to janitor’s closet, taunted by House Speaker after calling out corruption

photo courtesy of Rep. John Autry

It’s somehow fitting that a legislative session that included an intra-party fight over casinos, draconian restrictions on women’s access to health care, and a lawmaker defying the will of her voters and switching parties would end this way, with a childish act of petty vengeance by the state’s second most powerful legislator.

Welcome to the rotten world of North Carolina politics.

As the session drew to a close, this week Wake County Representative Terence Everitt was unexpectedly evicted from his office and exiled to a janitorial closet while he waited to vote on the state budget.

His cardinal sin? Asking Wake County’s district attorney to investigate House Speaker Tim Moore for possible violations of state laws related to an extramarital affair.

Backstory:

In June, Wake County resident Scott Lassiter sued Speaker Moore for alienation of affection. The lawsuit alleged that the infamously randy Speaker Moore had engaged in an extramarital affair with Lassiter’s wife which ultimately led to the end of their marriage.

Lassiter also claimed his wife had told him that others had had group sex with Moore in pursuit of political favors from the powerful Cleveland County lawmaker.

According to the suit, Mr. Lassiter and Speaker Moore met at a Biscuitville to discuss the matter four days later.

At the Biscuitville Summit, Moore allegedly admitted the affair and asked Lassiter if there was anything [Moore] could do for Lassiter, “implying that he could use the power he held as Speaker in some way to benefit Plaintiff.”

Moore acknowledged meeting Lassiter at Biscuitville to discuss the matter and says the two men “hugged it out.”

Last month Representative Everitt sent a letter to Wake County District Attorney Lorin Freeman pointing out that Jamie Lassiter had received salary raises of more than 50% in her state job while she was having the affair with Moore, increases which far exceeded the average raises received by state employees who didn’t have affairs with Moore.

Everitt’s letter noted Moore’s alleged use of the people’s money for personal sexual gratification and asked Freeman to investigate for possible criminal violations including bribery, embezzlement, and misconduct in public office.

20230822-letter-from-rep-terence-everitt-to-district-attorney-lorrin-freeman

Freeman declined to open an investigation, but Biscuitville Moore had to have the last laugh.

So while Everitt waited in the House chamber to vote on a terrible budget guaranteed passage by the General Assembly’s stolen supermajority, his belongings were boxed and moved to a janitorial supply closet in the basement of the legislature. For added inconvenience, his legislative assistant’s office was kept on a separate floor.

Moore then sent Everitt this taunting letter explaining the change:

letter-from-tim-moore-to-terence-everitt

Moore’s letter uses a disagreement Everitt had with a fellow Democrat as pretext for the punitive office move. It’s a missive that sounds as if it were written by an unusually articulate junior high bully, filled with not-so-subtle references to what Moore appears to perceive as Everitt’s lack of manliness.

While Moore’s lack of professionalism and basic maturity might surprise outsiders, few North Caroliians would expect anything else from the House Speaker.

We know exactly who he is.


I’d like to report indoctrination in Union County Public Schools

Educators returning to work in Union County Public Schools for the 2023-24 school year are being required to agree to a handful of specific policies including one stating that they won’t cause any student to feel “discomfort” during discussions about race or gender while at school.


The policy was initially enacted by the county’s far-right school board in 2021, the year extremist groups across the United States carried out their manufactured CRT hysteria campaign.

Union County Public Schools’ efforts to ensure staff are adhering to mandated restrictions on discussions of race and gender comes just months after a student flying a Confederate flag at Porter Ridge High School led one parent to lament “We just want to make sure that our children are safe. Nobody wants to go to school and feel unsafe. I’m not even at the school and it makes me feel unsafe.”

(In contrast with reality, a district spokesperson said the flag didn’t cause a disruption or safety concerns. The spokesperson added that no policies prohibit the flying of flags on school property. On a related note, Union County’s school board banned pride flags from classrooms this past May.)

To be clear, if there’s any county that could benefit from honest conversations about race and systemic oppression it’s Union County, North Carolina.

UC is the proud home of former US Senator Jesse Helms, who once said in a campaign ad “White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories?”

Union County is majority white but its population is still nearly 13% African American and 12.4% Hispanic.

Yet the right-wing school board’s policy which employees are being forced to swear allegiance to is all about ensuring that white people don’t feel bad about racism and that honest conversations about our history of racial oppression and how current systems still disproportionately benefit white people are less likely to happen in schools.

Union County’s policy is all about whitewashing our students’ education and perpetuating a harmful status quo, and it amounts to indoctrination.

The same year Union County’s school board passed its white comfort policy, North Carolina’s controversial Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson launched his “F.A.C.T.S. task force” to collect evidence of what Robinson said was rampant indoctrination by the state’s educators.

Robinson’s F.A.C.T.S. site asks for examples of “…indoctrination according to a political agenda or ideology, whether through assigned work, teacher comments, or a hostile classroom environment.”

He’ll be getting a new submission today.



Makeover attempt? NC candidate for governor Mark Robinson has pulled out of a conspiracy theorist event. He’s still Mark Robinson.

North Carolina’s most polarizing politician may be attempting something of an image reboot as he sets his sights on the governor’s mansion.

Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson has been both reviled by those on the left and celebrated by fringe elements on the right for his extreme views, including regular doses of anti-LGBTQ and antisemitic rhetoric.

Now that Robinson has declared his candidacy for governor in the 2024 election, there are signs that the firebrand who once referred to homosexuality as “filth” may be trying to soften his public image in an effort to attract more mainstream votes.

Over the past week Robinson’s Twitter account has been doing its damndest to portray future-governor Mark Robinson as a reasonable, regular guy who just wants to bake some nice cookies and do great things for North Carolina.

Last week news also broke that Robinson would not be attending August’s ReAwaken America event in Las Vegas.

ReAwaken America is a traveling conspiracy theory exposition and political rally led by Donald Trump’s former national security advisor General Michael Flynn and an Oklahoma podcaster named Clay Clark who is currently facing a defamation suit over claims he made about Dominion Voting Systems and the 2020 presidential election.

Clark and Flynn have been traveling around the country (since shortly after Trump pardoned Flynn for lying to the FBI) providing space for QAnon conspiracy theorists and antivaxxers such as Alex Jones and Robert F Kennedy, Jr to infect people with their bonkers ideas.

Last month Clark breathlessly tweeted that Mark Robinson would be attending ReAwaken America in August in Las Vegas.

A poster for the event featured Mark Robinson’s smiling face front and center.

But recently the poster was updated to say that Robinson had merely been invited, and Robinson’s communications director explained he would no longer be attending the event.

No doubt Mark Robinson would like for voters to believe that he’s not a guy who belongs on stage with the likes of Alex Jones. But the two actually have a lot in common.

Jones recently declared bankruptcy after being ordered to pay almost $1.5 billion in damages to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. Jones had falsely and repeatedly claimed on his InfoWars website and talk show that the 2012 murders of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School did not actually occur.

Robinson knows a thing or two about denying school shootings and disparaging shooting victims.

In 2018 Robinson posted an image of Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg with the words “Media Hogg” and a series of laughing emojis. In comments on the post Robinson indicated he thought Hogg was an actor.

Mark Robinson would love to hoodwink North Carolina voters into thinking he’s a reasonable, moderate politician who will do great things for our state.

Don’t fall for the okey doke.