CHRIS FITZSIMON: The Money Chase Quickly Resumes
Republican Tim McNeill, who is running for the House to replace the retiring John Sauls, appears to have gotten out of the fundraising gate first, e-mailing more than a hundred lobbyists at 4:41 last Friday afternoon to invite them to a campaign fund raiser Aug. 23 in Raleigh.
The lobbyists were asked to pony up $4,000 to sponsor the event, co-sponsor it for $2,000, be a host for $1,000, a co-host for $500, or be merely a friend for $250.
Goodness knows legislators need lobbyists as friends if they can't be a sponsor or a co-host.
It is not clear if paying $250 to be a friend then means the lobbyist does not have to report any gifts to the lawmaker, using the exemption enacted for personal relationships. The Fitzsimon File will check.
McNeill is not alone. The fundraising pitches are coming to lobbyists fast and furious now.
One top lobbyist has received more than 31 separate mail appeals and 19 phone solicitations, all from different legislators and legislative candidates.
Some of the legislators ought to have a hard time justifying the trolling for lobbyist cash. Rep. Daniel McComas sent an appeal this week asking for money even though he has no opposition in November. Guess you can't have too many lobbyist friends.
The new lobbying and ethics reform bill that takes effect next year prohibits lobbyists from giving money, which means they can't contribute after Jan. 1 until the all-but-certain court decision striking down the ban is issued.
No word yet on lobbyists holding fundraisers for legislators, though it is a safe bet that some lobbyists are already rearranging the furniture in their living rooms getting ready.
Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of N.C. Policy Watch, is an experienced policy analyst and journalist. He hosts a weekend radio program, "News and Views," and is a regular panelist on "N.C. Spin," a weekly UNC-TV talk show about state government and politics.
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