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Capital Tonight Extended Interview: Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour

MissgovernorCapital Tonight anchor Tim Boyum sits down with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour to talk about the upcoming presidential race as well as his new book.

Former Texas Senator Keynote Speaker at NC Abortion-Rights Events

abortion rallyDURHAM—The Texas state senator whose 2013 floor filibuster against an abortion bill vaulted her to national prominence is in North Carolina raising money for a political group affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

Former Sen. Wendy Davis is delivering the keynote address at three fundraisers this week, with two slated Wednesday in Greensboro and Charlotte. The group called “Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic” said 180 people attended Tuesday evening’s event in Durham.

The abortion-rights organization says $150,000 raised so far from the events will help with things such as voter education and independent political expenditures approaching the 2016 elections. The Republican-led North Carolina legislature has passed bills since 2011 that restricts abortion or eliminated state funding for Planned Parenthood.

Davis is a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year.

– Associated Press

Former SEANC Director Indicted

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RALEIGH—A Wake county grand jury handed down an indictment today  for the former director of the State Employees Association of NC on two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

Dana Cope stepped down earlier this year after an audit revealed he misused credit cards and funds associated with the group for his own personal gain.

The indictment says Cope spent more than $500,000 from December 2009 until February 2015, and Cope used credit cards belonging to SEANC but used the funds for his personal use.

The document states he bought electronic gaming equipment, clothing, jewelry, home appliances, vacations, hotel rooms, massages and plastic surgery.

Cope stepped down earlier this year after Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman requested an investigation.

The current director of SEANC, Mitch Leonard released this statement:

While our members, staff and stakeholders are saddened by this latest development in an unfortunate turn of events for Mr. Cope, rest assured that we are taking all of the necessary steps — resulting from three independent investigations of our operations — to secure SEANC from ever experiencing a breach of leadership again.  As such, I am confident that our organization will continue — uninterrupted — the important work of protecting and defending the interests of retired, current and future state employees.”

Cope’s attorney also released a statement saying in part: 

“Dana has cooperated with the State Bureau of Investigation and the Wake County District Attorney’s office from the beginning of their investigation. Now that Dana has been formally charged he will continue to cooperate fully in answering these charges. We will begin the process of voluntarily surrendering Dana to law enforcement where he will be served the indictments and will go before a Wake County Magistrate who will determine his Conditions of Release.”

Representatives with SEANC said after the audit revealed the spending information, they put several changes in place to their financial system including having a treasurer sign all checks and putting a credit limit of $5,000 on a single credit card.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports Cope will appear before a magistrate on Tuesday.

Defense Chief Carter: Military Stays Ready Despite Cuts

Fdefense_secretaryORT BRAGG—Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the military will continue to be able to defend against multiple threats around the world despite troop reductions bringing the Army to its lowest manpower level since before World War II.

Carter met with soldiers at Fort Bragg on Friday, a day after it was announced the Army cut spots for about 840 at the post. The worldwide reduction of 40,000 soldiers in two years due to budget cuts mean bases in Georgia, Texas and Alaska will lose thousands of troops.

The defense secretary said when it comes to troops he’s more concerned with the quality of troops rather than the quantity.

“I have no doubt that this force could take out ISIL. The tricky part comes with getting defeat to stick, a defeat of ISIL that lasts, we can’t do. For that there has to be local people who hold territory and ultimately govern territory,” said Carter.

Further troop cuts of 30,000 are possible later this year if Congress enacts budget constraints known as sequestration. Carter is scheduled to speak Saturday in Charlotte to the annual conference of the National Association of Counties.

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, the Representative of Fort Bragg, issued the following statement regarding the visit:

“I’m pleased to see Secretary Carter taking time to visit with the hardworking men and women stationed at Fort Bragg. It’s key that our Secretary of Defense spends time on the ground interacting with soldiers, and I’m confident the Secretary will witness firsthand just how unique and valuable Fort Bragg is to our national security. There is no doubt that the Secretary will leave Fayetteville today just as proud of the men and women as I am.”

Confederate Flag Removed from S.C. State Grounds

scconfederateflag18088454pngCOLUMBIA, S.C. — The Confederate flag was removed from the South Carolina State Grounds this morning during a brief ceremony.

Prior to the ceremony, police roped off the flag and the area behind it stretching back to the Statehouse. Attendants chanted “hate put it up, love will bring it down” as the flag was removed.

The Columbia City Council approved a temporary ordinance to ban weapons from the streets surrounding the Statehouse for the next 30 days.

The Klu Klux Clan plans to meet at the Statehouse later this month.

South Carolina Governor Haley to Sign Bill Removing Flag

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Watch the full signing ceremony here.

COLUMBIA, S.C.–Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman for Gov. Haley says the Confederate flag will be removed from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds on Friday morning. Spokesman Chaney Adams says the flag will come down in a ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.

Moments after Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster ratified the bill, Haley made the announcement that she would sign it in the Statehouse lobby that afternoon. The bill passed the state House at 1 a.m. Thursday.

The Confederate flag has flown over the Statehouse for 54 years since being put up as a protest of the Civil Rights movement.

Haley and other conservatives didn’t begin a push to remove the flag until nine black churchgoers were killed in a church shooting in Charleston by a gunman who police say was motivated by racial hatred.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Capital Tonight May 8: Budgeting for College

Capital_Tonight_logoOn Capital Tonight: Another police department considers using body cameras. Which city is it this time? Gov. Pat McCrory touts funding for transportation, we’ll have more on the story. The Money Matters segment discusses how to fund college and walk away with no debt. Watch the program here.

NC House Approves Bill Changing Presidential Primary Date

primary_billRALEIGH—The NC House has approved a bill that would once again move North Carolina’s 2016 presidential primary.

Two years ago, lawmakers moved the primary from May to February so that North Carolina voters would get a chance to cast a ballot before the major party nominees are decided by other states. However national parties have rules for who may have the early primaries, and have threatened sanctions to states that don’t follow the rules.

This bill moves North Carolina’s presidential primary to March.

“This keeps us moved forward enough to be relevant in the process but moves us back a couple of weeks to make sure that we can be as relevant as we can be,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican.

Senate leaders have been more hesitant to make the presidential primary change. This bill now goes to that chamber for consideration.

It’s Barbecue Against Cheese in NCAA Men’s Championship Game

McCrory_UPDRALEIGH—The waist-expanding wager has been placed for the NCAA men’s basketball championship as the governors of North Carolina and Wisconsin, and two of their congressmen, are putting their faith – and their food – behind their respective schools.

Gov. Pat McCrory says that if top-seeded Wisconsin downs top-seeded Duke in the title game in Indianapolis Monday night, he’ll send Gov. Scott Walker a package of barbecue, coleslaw, hushpuppies and Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soft drink. Walker is set to send cheese, root beer and sausage if the Blue Devils win their fifth national title under coach Mike Krzyzewski.

North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield is also putting up some barbecue, along with slaw and iced tea if the Badgers win. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., will send cheese and beer if Duke wins.

Newspaper-Backed Bill on Legal Notices OK’d by NC House

newspaperRALEIGH–North Carolina newspapers would be required to publish legal notices on both their websites and in their print editions for the same price in legislation that the House approved overwhelmingly.

The chamber voted 115-4 on Monday night for the online posting mandate when local and state governments alert the public to proposed zoning and annexation changes, public hearing dates and other actions.

Website listings would be posted for free. Government bodies also would receive a 15 percent break on newspaper print advertising prices for repeat notices.

The legislation backed by the North Carolina Press Association is moving as cities and counties want the option to post legally required public notices on their own websites, instead of paying a newspaper to run them.

The bill now goes to the Senate.