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Follow the Money – North Carolina Moratorium Watch 2010

Back in May of 2009, I started a series called Follow the Money to illustrate the large amounts of money the telecommunications companies spend on legislators to push their agendas for them.  You can always tell how most legislators will vote if you simply follow the money.

Through the wonders of public records searches at the North Carolina State Board of Elections, I am able to see the PAC contributions that legislators have received.  I can also cross reference this information with the dates the legislators are in session and the Secretary of State’s online lobbyist database.  In North Carolina you can take PAC money from a PAC who has a registered lobbyist so long as the General Assembly is not in session. If you take the contribution while in session, the state’s General Statute says it must be forfeited to the state’s General Forfeiture fund.

In this Moratorium Watch 2010 edition I want to focus on two North Carolina legislators leading the charge to ban or restrict municipal broadband projects — Sen. Daniel Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg) and Sen. David Hoyle (D-Gaston).

Clodfelter is the co-chair of the Revenue Laws Study Committee.  In just 24 months, he took in a total of $16,000 in PAC contributions from big telecom companies and their friends:

  • $1500 from North Carolina Cable PAC
  • $1000 from Sprint/Nextel
  • $1500 from Embarq
  • $500 from the NC Association of Broadcasters
  • $5500 from Time Warner Cable
  • $5000 from AT&T
  • $1000 from North Carolina Broadcast PAC

Senator “Obsolete Fiber” Hoyle dwarfed Clodfelter over the past 24 months:

  • $3500 from Sprint/Nextel
  • $4500 from Embarq
  • $8250 from Time Warner Cable
  • $4000 from AT&T
  • $2000 from Electricities (Drew Saunders is a lobbyist with Electricities and was a primary sponsor on the Level Playing Field bill for big telco a few years back)
  • $1500 from North Carolina Broadcast PAC
  • $1500 from North Carolina Cable PAC

That’s $25,250 for Hoyle from companies with an active interest in the telecommunications debate in this state.

When you consider more than $40,000 was spent to boost the campaign coffers of just two state legislators, it’s not hard to see big money is involved statewide.  It doesn’t even have to arrive in the form of a PAC contribution.  Clodfelter just had a $29 million Time Warner Cable headquarters building placed in Mecklenburg County.  Hoyle helped procure the Apple Data Center, located 22.5 miles north of his district in Maiden, NC.

When cross-referencing Hoyle’s PAC contributions with the state lobbyist database, I found several possible conflicts that warrant investigation, and I will bring my concerns to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.  If my complaint is upheld, perhaps Hoyle’s concerns about the need for additional state revenue could be eased knowing some potentially improper contributions made to his campaign were turned over to the General Forfeiture fund.  Hoyle has already announced he is not running for re-election so he doesn’t need the money anyway.

Once you count that money, it’s easy to discover why some of our state legislators are actively working against our own best interests here in North Carolina.  The corporate campaign contribution, which can be likened to legalized bribery, makes it difficult to convince legislators to always vote with their constituents’ best interests at heart.  Whenever legislators are willing to cash corporate contributions and vote against consumer interests, we’ll be here to call them on it.  Until this country gets corporate money out of government, it’s all we’ve got.

Currently there are 2 comments on this Article:

  1. Tim says:

    Really sad…

    I guess, “Serve the people…”, is a forgotten practice. It is now, “Serve for money and get rich!! Hey hey!!!”.

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