When 101 Dalmations meets Sleeping with the Enemy

by | Jan 28, 2014 | Editor's Blog, NC Politics, NCGA, NCGov | 18 comments

It’s hard to know where to start with this puppy mill episode. In a profanity laced diatribe, Senator Bill Rabon blasted the governor and swore that a bill to curb puppy mills would never see the light of day. Unfortunately for Rabon, his rant was recorded by animal welfare activists. The substance of the bill is far less important than the optics and the opportunities for Democrats, animal welfare activists and Pat McCrory.

First, and most obviously, nobody likes people who kick puppies. And, metaphorically, that’s just what the Senate is doing. They’ve already killed a bill five months before session starts that might otherwise have gotten little notice.

For years, animal welfare groups have been trying to pass legislation to regulate dog breeding and for years the bills have died lonely deaths garnering little attention. Now, with Berger playing the role of Cruella De Vil and Senator Rabon taking on the dual role of both Horace and Jasper, the animal welfare folks have villains to attack while riding to the aid of defenseless puppies.

Democrats need to exploit the bullying response from Berger and company. Senator Tom Apodaca blamed the premature death of the puppy mill on the activists who recorded the meeting with Rabon. That’s like an abusive husband saying his wife’s complaining forced him to punch her. They took the similar threatening stance toward teachers protesting their low pay. These guys are bullies, plain and simple, and Democrats should jump on their heavy-handed methods for killing this bill.

Finally, the episode has everything McCrory needs to regain some credibility, flex some muscle and show that he’s willing to stand up to the senate leadership. It’s got a bill he supports, it’s got a defenseless victim and it’s got a mean-spirited bully. McCrory should blast the senate for vowing to kill the bill, reiterate his support for the legislation and ask the public to support him in his bid to protect puppies. He’s got a clear opportunity to stand up and fight for something that he believes in.

Instead, he’s blowing it. McCrory is blaming the animal welfare folks for recording the meeting, defending Rabon and vowing to “stay above that type of dialogue.” If the senate is like the abusive husband, McCrory is playing the role of abused wife who protects her abuser and blames the social workers and cops for her misery. Maybe McCrory really doesn’t believe in anything.


  1. Janie Withers

    We are those who legally taped a meeting with our elected official. We are accused of extortion by Senator Apodaca and of using a “disgusting tactic” by Governor McCrory. All because we made public a tape of a meeting with an elected official. The words of this tape speak volumes about the political process and the character of Senator Rabon. Power, control and “lots of money” are words mentioned but never the word respect.

    Senator Rabon apologized to the Governor and to the NC House for statements he made but not to the citizens who were subjected to his rant. He states, “THIS IS POLITICS 101 FOLKS! GET USED TO IT”. Well, we will not get used to it.

    But let me tell you about the “WE” in this story, the committee that met with Senator Rabon. These citizens, so accused, volunteer in our community, in our churches, in our schools, in our domestic violence shelters, in our food pantries, on Land Conservancy, recreation and Museum Boards that work to make our community a better place. We are veterinarians who believe that puppy mills are an underground industry that are out of control in NC. We sit on nonprofit boards and we volunteer at animal shelters each week at animal adoption fairs. We are parents and grandparents who have raised, or are raising children who will continue to give to their world. We give skills, talents and time to our community. We pay taxes and we vote. All this because it’s the right thing to do.

    This is who we are and yes, we are proud of it! Now it is time for the NC Senate to pass HB930. Puppy mills are an underground industry that is thriving in NC. It is time for the NC Senate to speak up.

  2. Donna Bloomer

    Another necessary attribute of public servants is Integrity, which has been described as ‘Knowing what is right, Doing what is right, and Sharing what is right with others.’ Senator Rabon is zero for three.

  3. Janie Withers

    In the words of the “great and powerful” Senator Rabon:
    it takes 26 senators to pass a bill
    it takes 61 legislators to pass a bill
    then it takes the governor’s signature.
    then 1 JERK can stop the puppy mill bill. Well, meet the JERK!

    • Kathryn Reynolds

      Janie-I am passing this feed over to the NCHBA and NCRAR-Maybe some support can come out of it?

  4. Cheryl Hewett

    Just like Watergate , Puppygate needs to be examined. The puppy mill bill HB930 is the best we have ever had and it passed the house overwhelmingly. I think it would be wise to hear what all the Senators say , not just the opinion of one

  5. Janie Withers

    PUPPYGATE! What a statement indeed. Watergate is remembered for the stance politicians took to cover it up. It is a tag that will follow Senator Rabon. Governor McCrory, Senator Apodaca, do you want it to be what you are remembered for?

  6. Janie Withers

    I am a taxpayer and a voting citizen. I am a tireless advocate for what is right. I have little patience for people who are not willing to speak out with an opinion. We each have an opinion. HB930 was never applauded as a perfect bill. The more perfect it got for dogs, the less likely it was to ever be passed. HB930 is working to address an underground industry that is out of control in NC.

    I urge the Republican Senate leaders to speak out on this issue. Apodaca is one of 26 Senators. I can find respect in a legislator who is willing to make a statement. Have you lost your capacity to speak? There are supporters of HB930 in Raleigh. where are you?

  7. Sandy Arney

    As a student of history I want to make some connections here. When the Watergate Scandal broke, the people in power sought to cover it up. In essence, there were two scandals. First, the break in and then the abuse of power that elected officials did to cover it up and keep themselves in power. People don’t remember that Watergate had to do with the break in of a hotel. They remember that elected officials all the way up to the President used their political power to punish others, stifled media and revealed dirty politics—good ole boy networks all the way to the top. In this Puppygate Scandal, people may never remember that it had to do with a simple, easy, clean bill regarding Puppy Mills. It’s what has happened afterward that may stick in people’s mind. Why was this bill stifled when Senator Rabon’s own words caught on tape embarrassed him? Did the NC Senate abuse their power and punish local constituents for exercising their democratic rights to meet with their own senator? His comments were so explosive and revealed his character just as the Watergate Tapes revealed Nixon’s character, that the group released it to the media so that his voters could know who he really is. Instead of punishing the elected official caught on tape acting similarly to Nixon, the Republican Party, even McCrory himself sought to blame the whistleblower, squelched the bill and called the tape a “disgusting tactic.” Meanwhile, we all remember the tapes of Watergate. They brought down a president. Puppygate shouldn’t go away because it reveals a senator’s character whose vindictive tactics (in his own words), “if she gets on my backside, she will never get another bill through my committee”, are being condoned by the Republican Party in the Senate. It reveals a Senator who claims the puppy mill bill is not about cats and dogs, but BIG MONEY instead (is he yielding to special interests rather than the public good). It reveals a Senator who has no respect for the other chamber of the legislature, no respect for the Governor, his colleagues or his own voters in the room. This guy thinks he is above the law (“has legislative immunity” by all means). These are very dangerous characteristics in a politician. It reveals a NC Senate that abuses its power and punishes people for exercising their democratic rights, a Governor who takes a political beating from his own Senator and does nothing about it. So, Senator Rabon is right he is very powerful, but so was Nixon and look what happened to him. Puppygate has less to do with puppies than it does to do with what it revealed about the political process and who we have in power right now. The media has been called the 4th branch of government. It’s where citizens turn when the other three don’t do their jobs. The media should dig deeper into this because Puppygate has the potential to throw all the Republicans out of office all the way to the top. The Democrats have tremendous opportunity here, so do the Republicans if they choose to look at Rabon and Apodaca, but not if they think this will blow over. Apodaca claims that “voters tried to use the tape to extort votes and therefore the bill has been killed.” Senator Apodaca extortion is a strong word. Where is your evidence that whistleblowers tried to extort votes? I suggest you come up with some strong evidence to support your claim or the killing of the bill can no longer be supported, except by your own abuse of power.

  8. Lainie Molloy

    The reasons this bill is not being voted on are politics and money. It’s time for a change in Brunswick County and maybe the whole state!

  9. Janie Withers

    it should frighten voters that a politician would kill a bill that will give basic care to thousands of dogs living in NC puppy mills only to save face. Character is what happens when no one is watching. Well, NC IS WATCHING THIS AND WE WILL NOT BE SILENT.

  10. Jack Floyd

    Thank you Janie. How anyone can hold up a vote on a bill to protect puppies is beyond me. You and your group are giving a voice to those who have none.

  11. Danny Hefner

    My name is Danny Hefner. In 2012, I challenged Senator Rabon, for the NC State Senate, District 8 seat. I was unsuccessful in my bid to win election to that seat. However, I am NOT a quitter. I am challenging Senator Rabon for this seat again, in the 2014 Election. I am a diehard Supporter of what Janie Withers is fighting to accomplish. I was APPALLED at how Senator Rabon spoke to this fine lady, just because she and her colleagues are trying to do that which is right. There is a myriad of reasons, as to why I will continue to challenge Senator Rabon. I do not understand why Party Politics must come into play, when more than 80% of the Electorate SUPPORTS the Commercial Dog Breeders Bill. If I am elected, one of my first acts, will be reviving this Bill. Janie, keep up the good fight! I believe in what you are doing. More information, concerning me, can be found at my website, http://www.dannyhefner.com. Also, feel free to contact me personally via email, at danny@dannyhefner.com. Connect with me on Twitter. @DannyHefner1. Thank You for your time.

    • Janie Withers

      HB930, Puppy Mill Legislation, is designed to ensure that commercial dog breeders provide basic care to the dogs they own. No matter what Senator Rabon says, the bill has nothing to do with Pigs, cows or chickens, hense the word dog! No matter what Senator Rabon says, this bill has nothing to do with gas chambers in NC. Animal advocates are interested in gas chambers, HOWEVER, we got the message from state government when 2 previous bills failed to pass because the bills contained TOO MUCH PROTECTION. HB930 is a 4 year compromise between advocates and the NC House. Advocates were clearly told “a stronger bill will never pass in NC”. Anything is better than what we have.

  12. Janie Withers

    I could find respect for the Republican party if they simply did the right thing and allowed 26 NC Senators to hear a bill and place a vote for or against it. I could find respect for the Governor if he did not criticize the messenger for the message delivered. I delivered Senator Rabon’s words. I did not speak them. I could respect that the government had done the job they were elected to do. What i cannot respect is this “circle of wagons” they have done out of “fear of retribution” from him. He has the power to kill any bill they introduce JUST BECAUSE THEY DISAGREED with him. They know it because he told them as much. Is this good government? Is this fair government? Why bother to pay 26 Senators if we allow 1 to reach a level to be able to hold hostage 26 senators in this state . We have free speech and a government that is “by the people and for the people”, not by one corrupt, chest bumping Senator who has strong armed his way with threat and revenge to other lawmakers. Politicians are public servants. A politician runs on character. The true character of Senator Rabon has been revealed. Do we now need to reveal the character of the NC Senate. It is said Character is what happens when no one is watching. I hope NC voters are watching this one!

    • Thomas Mills

      Thank you, Janie. I hope they are watching, too.

      • Janie Withers

        When a meeting between citizens and Senator Rabon was taped, it was done to be fair to him. There was a committee of 13 citizens but only 6 were allowed to attend the meeting. The tape was not done in secret and there was no dark motive. The recording was made to give the entire committee of interested people the chance to hear questions and answers for themselves. We did not want to put any slant on Senator Rabon’s but to allow listeners to hear the words and make their own decision. It was not my fault that his lack of character allowed him to make a public fool of himself. No one else in that meeting is ashamed of anything we said. No one else cursed and ranted about how important we were or how much power we had. The tape was made public because the committee of 13 citizens felt this meeting revealed a face to politics and to Senator Rabon that the public deserved to see. The face of 1 Staking control away from 26 elected Senators regarding a bill that would affect NC. A blockade as such because “he is so powerful”.

        Senator Rabon states in the meeting that the “BILL IS DEAD BECAUSE HE DID NOT LIKE IT”. The NC Senate leader Apodaca made an instant decision for the NC Senate that HB930 would not be heard on the Senate floor because of the tape. Yes, let’s punish the messenger for the message! We had already been told by the “great and powerful” Senator Rabon that the bill was dead. The announcement from the NC Senate, through Apodaca, can be viewed as an excuse not to hear a bill that was already declared DEAD or could the announcement to kill puppy mill legislation for NC be a punishment tactic directed to those who made the tape? Is this Politics 101 or what? Where is the public servant here? Why have 26 Senators if 2 small minds make the decisions on what bill will be heard or passed? Seems we only need 2. Think of the money we just saved the NC budget.

        Character is big word to politicians. True character appears when no one is watching! This tape speaks volumes about the character of Senator Bill Rabon. Arrogance, bragging of power and chest bumping tactics are crude and often not reported in the media where politicians are concerned. Such tactics should have no place in politics. Rabon says himself, “THERE IS A LOT OF MONEY INVOLVED”! Are you more disgusted that the tape exists or with what is on the tape? You decide.

        WRAL in Raleigh is more political and maybe they know the ropes better than WECT. They are much more vocal and thorough on the issue.

        The Raleigh News and Observer.com has carried entertaining and interesting coverage also. Imagine the audacity of a news station to report the news to listeners!

        There are many supporters of puppy mill legislation in Raleigh. They have spoken publicly of their support of HB930. Our own Governor McCrory calls the tape a disgusting tactic yet he allows the NC Senate to use the tape as an excuse not to hear the DEAD BILL. He chastises the news media for having the audacity to report news to the public. Imagine that, a news station reporting the news to you! Now the very legislators who support HB930 say “are afraid to speak out as those statements could mean that nothing that they care about in terms of bill passage, ever leaves the Senate”. This is “extortion” at its finest!

        Feel free to comment on websites with your opinion if you are so inclined. You are entitled to an opinion, whether it agrees with mine or not. You opinion, like your vote in November, is important but please be an informed voter!

        Special interests will donate money that will afford a candidate to buy signs, TV and radio ads that may lure your vote. Your vote will place an elected official in Raleigh. This elected official SHOULD represent the best interests of NC as a whole, not that of a select few. Do not vote for a candidate because that candidate is a democrat or a republican.

        Do not vote for a candidate because of the many TV and radio ads they purchase to tell you how wonderful they are. Your vote is precious and it is a responsibility to be informed about where it is placed. Your vote will select which candidate will go to Raleigh, hopefully to represent the best interest of the state of NC. Those elected will make decisions that will affect our state. \

        The character and integrity a politician tells you about is not nearly so important as the character and integrity they display even when no one is watching! Are you watching now?

        • Natalie Weil

          Bravo, Janie!!!!! Down with Rabon as a self centered politician only interested in how much power & control he can gain over others, be they dogs or people.People remember this behavior & work hard to vote this person out of office-remember vote Rabon OUT. Vote dog care in.

  13. Justin

    McCrory never believed in the puppy’s. He doesn’t even have his own dog living with him in the Governor’s Mansion! It’s his wife’s cause and he has grudgingly accepted it. He’s not going to use his political capital on something he doesn’t really believe in.

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