North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore is hardly a beloved figure in Raleigh circles, but he commands the loyalty of his top lieutenants. Knowing that their maestro aspired to hold seat in Congress, top N.C. House mapmakers drew a juicy, ill-formed district in the southwestern part of the state that could hardly have been intended for anyone but the Jones Street Napoleon. Observers expected this to transpire, and hardly remarked upon the sordid corruption in the redistricting committee’s awarding of patronage to a man who sees politics as a means of becoming, wealthy without being wise.
Moore cares nothing about the human impact of policy in comparison to the trajectory of his political career. Having long held a softer stance on Medicaid expansion than the firebreathers in the state Senate, he turned against expansion the moment his congressional seat was out of the oven. While the district was drawn for him, he felt a need to take precautions against an (even more) right-wing primary challenger, and by so doing betrayed 600,000 uninsured North Carolinians. Seldom in his speakership has Tim Moore sacrificed his own ambitions for the good of the people. Facing a larger stage with relish, he sold us out once again.
Unconcerned with public policy, Moore likely sees a U.S. House seat as an entryway to feast of grifting. He’s certainly made out well in Raleigh. As the saying goes, he came to Jones Street in a beat-up Honda and came back to Cleveland County in a Maserati. That’s literally true. He drives a Maserati. How a small-town attorney could afford one of the most expensive cars on the market while drawing a salary of little over $30,000 for his work in the legislature, is a mystery less confounding than it ought to be. Moore has exploited every possible opportunity to get rich off of public service.
One of Moore’s most blatant acts of corruption was a land deal he cut in Chatham County. He purchased a parcel of property in Chatham for less than $100,000, and a few years later sold the land for the princely sum of $550,000. In the interim, he pressured state government to exercise a light touch in environmental review. It does not take a genius to see how one of the most powerful men in state government could get special treatment, or how that favor translated into a windfall profit for the Speaker from Kings Mountain.
You get the picture. For 18 years, Tim Moore has sought out the financial perks of a perch in the state legislature. He’s largely left the work of policy-making to the fire eaters in the Upper Chamber, to the point where the commentator Rob Schofield called Moore Phil Berger’s “sidekick.” This apathy toward the concrete results of state policy has had damaging effects; Moore, a double graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, has disappointed alumni who hoped he might save the University from Phil Berger’s wrecking crew. But take heart, aspiring grifters: you too can get rich off of a political career in which the footprint you leave on state government is essentially nonexistent.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.