Ashvegas Political Hit List: Moffitt mulls drones, McHenry hits a Swiss resort, more

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

mccrory_press_conference_jan_2014By James Harrison

It’s already Friday? Yep. Here comes the Hit List.

Prepare to pony up for Amazon

Do you shop on Amazon? Do you enjoy not paying sales tax on the majority of your purchases? That’s about to change. The online retail giant announced this week that beginning Feb. 1, they’ll begin collecting sales tax on purchases made within North Carolina. That makes our state the 20th in the country where Amazon collects—a move welcomed by brick-and-mortar stores. Pressed to explain the reason behind the timing of the change, an Amazon spokesperson declined to comment (a typical response).

Moffitt mulls drone usage

With buzz swarming around proposals from Amazon and others for use of unmanned aerial vehicles, a committee of Carolina lawmakers is aiming to keep ahead of the tech. Members, including our own Rep. Tim Moffitt, met in Raleigh this week to weigh the pros and cons of drones. According to this Carolina Public Press report, Moffitt (who co-authored a bill regarding drones during last year’s session) stressed concerns about privacy, citizen’s rights and regulation during the meeting.

In other Moffitt news, the representative was tapped by House Speaker Thom Tillis to serve on a new committee investigating impact of the Affordable Care Act. More on that later, though.

McCrory casts vision for year 2

This week marked Gov. Pat McCrory’s first anniversary of being a governor (one down, three to go). At a press conference at the Executive Mansion, McCrory laid out his goals for the upcoming short legislative session, which begins in May. This year, the top of McCrory’s list includes initiatives regarding the production of offshore energy, advances in education and Medicaid reform. You can watch a video of the governor’s comments at the press conference here (interesting, the Q&A part gets cut off early).

With one year under his belt, the Raleigh News & Observer looked back at the first fourth of McCrory’s term. How’d he do? Comparing campaign promises and results, the paper determined McCrory has indeed “made progress” despite controversies.

McHenry abroad

Depending on what side of Asheville you live on, U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry is your congressman. This week, he’s representing you at a Swiss resort. McHenry, along with a handful of U.S. congressional delegates, attended this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos. According to a Miami Herald post, the congressman said he was looking forward to sharing his “knowledge of disruptive finance” at the conference.

Hagan in the money

Cha-ching—U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan added more than $2 million to her re-election fund in the most recent quarter. Although the official amount (and list of donors) won’t be revealed until later this month, the senator’s campaign touted the haul as a show of strength to a field of GOP challengers who are foaming at the mouth for her seat. But is Hagan looking stronger, or are deep-pocketed donors willing to max out contributions in order to retain a Democrat seat? Numbers will show more in the coming weeks.

GOP primary thickens

Just when we thought the Republican Senate primary field was set—another candidate. Joining the fray this week is Dr. Edward Kryn of Clayton, N.C. That makes seven Republicans jockeying for the chance to challenge Hagan in November—further enhancing the chances of a runoff election. Perhaps another takeaway from the ever-growing GOP field is dissatisfaction with frontrunner Thom Tillis, who has already received endorsements and backing from a number of establishment Republicans.

Tillis ready to investigate Obamacare

Speaking of Tillis, did you know he’s the state House Speaker? The title gives him the ability to form committees to probe certain issues, and the newest will be on the Affordable Care Act. The representative, who has aspirations for higher office, announced last Friday the creation of a joint-legislative study committee on the law. In a news release, Tillis said he hoped the committee (which includes state Rep. Tim Moffitt) would “find ways to help North Carolina minimize Obamacare’s negative elements.” The findings should go well with his campaign for Senate, which is already slamming Hagan for supporting the health law in 2010.

OK! That’s all for now. See y’all next week.

James Harrison recently returned to Asheville after working as a government reporter for, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Follow him on Twitter at @jharrisonAVL.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

You Might also Like


  1. theOtherBarry January 25, 2014

    Despite the fact that most people think there is a two-year moratorium on drones in NC, the state has been busy opening up testing sites over the past year. One current site is “The Company Formerly Known As Blackwater” in Moyock, NC. That won’t raise any red flags, will it?

    The next site to open? From documents presented at that meeting on Tuesday, it’s right here in River City:

    Under a program funded by the NCDOT, the Mills River Agricultural Research Station will soon start testing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

    Heads up.

  2. Phillip Glass January 25, 2014

    these politicians are A$$$holes, they need to be removed, we can’t believe Anyone voted them in to begin with, what a shame, they abandon their own people and the land, a bunch of cowards

  3. Santa January 24, 2014

    Patrick McHenry is at the millionaire summit at the Swiss resort of Davos for the purpose of promoting his special knowledge of “disruptive economics”? I had to google that and checked out several of the top responses. I’m still confused as to what is it, what his brand of it is and why he’s suddenly an international expert on it. I wish we had a congressman representing US and our interests.

  4. Jason W. January 24, 2014

    10 to 1 that McCrory’s offshore energy initiative will not be wind power.

  5. Tim Peck January 24, 2014

    Protecting your privacy in the 21st Century

    Last spring, landmark legislation was introduced to help protect North Carolina’s citizens from the intrusion of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as “drones.” HB312 — the Preserving Privacy Act of 2013 — would prohibit government agencies from the warrantless use of surveillance drones while recognizing the value of this emerging technology for use in fighting crime and aiding rescue missions. The LRC Study Committee on Unmanned Aircraft Systems has its first meeting this afternoon to discuss this drone technology and the status of federal and state laws governing them. Kirk Ross of Carolina Public Press has an excellent report on the proceedings…

  6. Sean January 24, 2014

    Guess who the Drone Committee Co-Chair is.

    Rep. John Torbett is a Vice President at a defense contractor that makes drone operating systems and sells them to the military.,BOMB,INTERCHANG,HOSTIL,ISR,STANDOFF,BAI,AERIAL,ALTITUD,CREW,FLY

    Meanwhile, committee member Rep. Tim Moffitt – one of the General Assembly’s most aggressive Tea Partiers – is, amazingly enough, co-chair of the International Relations Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That group issued a pro-drones statement last year urging ALEC to push back against “misconceptions” about drones and educate lawmakers throughout the country about the “benefits” of their use in “the domestic sphere.”

    In addition and not surprisingly given ALEC’s standard practice of acting as a flack for corporations, the chair of the National Security Subcommittee of Moffitt’s Task Force is a retired Navy officer and current New Mexico State Senator whose wife (also retired Navy) was long employed at Sandia Labs a “national security” company that, according to The Guardian, has been deeply involved in developing “the next generation of drone surveillance technology.”

    Fuck these guys. Getting Moffitt out of office in November is crucial.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Stories