John Lassiter leaving political advocacy group

January 5, 2014 

Ex-councilman leaving political advocacy group

Former Charlotte City Council member John Lassiter plans to step down as chairman of the nonprofit group formed to back Gov. Pat McCrory.

Lassiter chairs the Renew North Carolina Foundation, a nonprofit political advocacy group. Last fall, the group spent at least $344,000 on an ad that featured McCrory touting his first-year accomplishments.

The foundation, which doesn’t disclose its donors, last year held two retreats for donors that attracted the governor and members of his administration.

Lassiter, a longtime McCrory confidante, also chairs the state’s Economic Development Board, which oversees the new Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina Inc., a public-private group that will spearhead economic development efforts.

Critics have said it’s a conflict for Lassiter to hold both posts.

In recent comments to The Associated Press, Rob Schofield of the liberal group NC Policy Watch called it “a pretty remarkably blatant bit of conflict-of-interest to have someone who is raising money from corporations in secret to fund activities for the governor, then going around handing out money to corporations.”

Brian Nick, executive director of Renew North Carolina, says Lassiter’s expected resignation from the board this month has nothing to do with such criticism.

“He was always planning to transition out,” Nick said. “In fact, the decision was made that he was going to be moving away from the board weeks ago.” Jim Morrill

Former Charlottean in Fla. congressional race

A former Charlotte banker has outraised her rivals in a special congressional election in Florida.

Alex Sink, the state’s former chief financial officer, has raised $1.1 million for the Jan. 14 Democratic primary to succeed the late Republican Rep. Bill Young. The race is considered a tossup.

In 2010, Sink narrowly lost the governor’s race to Republican Rick Scott.

A Mount Airy native, she came to Charlotte in the 1970s for a job with N.C. National Bank, now Bank of America. She became president of the Charlotte Women’s Political Caucus and a rising star in her profession. Later transferred to Florida, she retired in 2000.

Sink has another claim to fame: She is the great-granddaughter of Chang Bunker, a conjoined twin born in Thailand, then Siam, in 1811.

He and his brother Eng were the original “Siamese twins.” They settled in Mount Airy and married sisters from Wilkes County. Jim Morrill

Moyers show puts N.C. back in spotlight

North Carolina politics has made national news again, this time as the subject of the latest production of “Moyers & Company,” a public television show hosted by Bill Moyers. “State of Conflict: North Carolina” discusses Republican control, “Moral Monday” protests, and campaign contributions.

“‘State of Conflict’ is more than a local story,” the website says. “It offers a case study of what may be the direction of American politics for years, maybe decades, to come.”

The show is still streaming on The (Raleigh) News & Observer

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