Under the leadership and example of Donald Trump, the GOP has openly become a party of grifters, using positions of power and influence to benefit themselves and their cronies. The latest example is over at the UNC Board of Governors. The next chair has been trying to profit off his position with little shame or regret.
Harry Smith, who is running unopposed for Chair of the Board of Governors, tried to push a sweetheart deal that would have given East Carolina University more beds and made a bunch of money for him and his business partners. He wanted to buy a foreclosed apartment complex adjacent to university property and then rent the units to ECU. He said he would split the profits with university. The only catch is that to keep the place full, ECU would require sophomores to live in Smith’s newly acquire apartment complex.
Smith and his business partners, The Preiss Company, own apartment complexes including some near other universities. Smith is currently part of a legal battle right now in which he is accused by a North Carolina Central University employee of pushing the school to do business with Preiss. Of course he denies any wrong doing.
Smith’s actions are part of a pattern that’s emerged since Republicans took over the state. House Speaker Tim Moore has gotten rich since he won a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He drives a Maserati. Last month, reporters uncovered a deal where he bought a troubled property with an old chicken plant on it for $85,000 and sold it three years later with no improvements for more than $500,000. That’s a windfall and it’s not likely to have happened if Moore were still just an attorney in Kings Mountain.
In Washington, Republicans in Congress have decided to look the other way while Trump and his family cash in on him being president. They fill their hotel in Washington, DC, with guests looking for favors. His resort down in Florida, Mar-a-Lago is a destination for GOP bigwigs and others seeking favor from the president. Nobody in the GOP is going to criticize the Trumps or hold them accountable in any way.
The GOP has become a party of grifters who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand and supply-side economics. Profits are all that matter and if you can turn your stint in public service into windfall profits, good on you. Accountability and transparency seem quaint. When Democrats did these things, they went to jail. When Republicans do them, the GOP base cheers.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >