The timing of Thom Tillis’ entry into the U. S. Senate race for the seat held by Kay Hagan was always interesting. Everybody knew he was going to run but thought he would wait until the end of session to make the leap. Nobody was quite sure why he made the decision to file at the end of May.
I figured he was trying to either corner some sort of GOP real estate or to keep potential rivals out. With the release of his June 30 FEC report, another reason pops out. Seems candidate Tillis was taking money from people who had business before Speaker Tillis.
Kirk Ross of The Carolina Mercury notes that Tillis received numerous contributions from business interests around the time the budget was being debated. A lot of the donations came from the usual suspects, including over $20,000 from principals in a telecom company in Concord. But Tillis also received money from legislators and even John Skvarla, Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. All of these folks needed Tillis’ help in some way.
As Ross points out, North Carolina law forbids legislators from receiving campaign contributions during the legislative session to prevent the appearance of legislation for sale. However, the law does not apply to federal campaigns. It certainly looks like Tillis exploited that contradiction.
And it sure looks sleazy. Essentially, Tillis opened himself up to contributions at the same time the budget was being debated. He knew what he was doing and that he was most valuable to lobbyists and special interests at the time they were trying to get projects through the legislature.
It might have been good for his June report, but it makes him vulnerable to attacks from the Tea Party. They already don’t trust him and this makes him look even more like a corporate shill. As I’ve always said, the most effective attacks are those that confirm suspicions. And the right has always thought that Tillis was a tool of big business.
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 >
Oh, I hope he gets the nomination. I know its a federal campaign but it needs to be framed by Dems as a referendum on the legislature, setting the tone for the 2016 races. NCDems must make the 2014-2020 elections all about the North Carolina government. If they can get some coat-tail candidates in ’16 & ’20 great, but it should be about identifying local talent and GOTV among the majority of registered voters.