Wednesday, December 19, 2018

THE CASH JOURNAL FOR 12-27-18 or 01-03-19

                                                                     REV. BARBER
                                                              ATTY THOMAS FARR

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Rev. Dr. William Barber says his “hope” is that defeated federal judicial candidate, Raleigh Attorney Thomas Farr, is not re-nominated for U.S. Senate confirmation when Congress begins its new term January 3rd.
            “Rather I’d like to see him take a long vacation, and think about what he’s done [ in terms of racial politics],” said the former president of the NC NAACP, in response to a question at a Dec. 17thpress conference outside of the NC Legislative Building.
Thanks to efforts by the NCNAACP, the press and others, the defeat of Raleigh Attorney Thomas Farr’s confirmation to a judicial seat in the Eastern District of North Carolina is just one of two handed to President Trump in the U.S. Senate this year.
            It was after NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman and a contingent of NAACP members from eleven chapters across the state went to Washington, D.C. a month, and lobbied senators not to confirm Farr’s nomination because of his documented racial history, that South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott, the Senate’s only African-American Republican, announced that he would vote “no,” along with outgoing Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, to stop Farr in his tracks.
            That was possible because the GOP only had a 51-49 lead in the Senate this term, meaning without Scott and Flake, even if Vice President Mike Pence is brought in, the vote is still one shy.
            But that won’t be the case come January 3rd, when the next Congress convenes, and the Republicans will have a 53-47 advantage over the Senate Democrats. Pres. Trump could easily re-nominate Thomas Farr to the Eastern District judicial seat, and unless three other Republicans join Sen. Scott in voting “no,” Farr’s nomination would be a sure thing.
            Given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) prides himself on delivering the lion’s share of Pres. Trump’s judicial picks, observers say the possibility is not off the table.
            Farr, a former campaign attorney for the late segregationist Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), who U.S. Justice Dept documents show was involved in in the Helms’ campaign’s 1984 and 1990 “ballot security” program to disenfranchise black democratic voters, is seen as a longtime Republican loyalist who has legally defended the voter ID and redistricting schemes of GOP legislative leadership, schemes that were ultimately ruled unconstitutional in the federal courts.
            Attorney Irving Joyner, Legal Redress Committee chair for the NC NAACP, says the possibility of Trump re-nominating Farr just to rankle his critics, is more likely than not.
            “I think that it is highly likely that Trump will re-nominate Farr to this judicial vacancy. In light of Farr's history,” atty. Joyner says. “It will be disgraceful for him to do so, but you should not expect Trump to deviate from his past racist and evil ways. Farr is exactly the type judge that Trump wants on the court and there is still sufficient Republican votes in the Senate which he can rely upon to achieve this goal. It is to be remembered that the number of Republican Senators increased during the 2018 election and Burr and Tillis are still major Farr backings. If Farr is not re-nominated for this judicial vacancy, I bet that he will end up with an appointment in the U.S. Justice Department.”
Rev. Barber is hopeful that Farr, whose nomination he vigorously campaigned against before he left the NC NAACP presidency in 2017, has seen the error of his ways in the face of 
unflinching opposition to his elevation to the federal bench, in a district which is home to over thirty percent of North Carolina’s African-American population.
            “My great prayer for Farr is that during this Christmas season…,” Barber told reporters on Dec. 17th, “… he changes, repents, turns. I’d like to see him not be re-nominated again for the federal court, but to have a change of heart and come work for the NAACP and the Poor People’s Campaign.”
            As a crowd of supporters Around Rev. Barber laughed and cheered, the civil rights leader added, ‘I’m serious. I believe in redemption.”
            “But if he doesn’t, we’re not going to stop. If Trump and others do try to reappoint him, we’re going to fight him,” Barber vowed. “But I don’t believe they’re going to do that.”
By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            As first reported by the Black Press earlier this month, after the NC Board of Elections investigated allegations of absentee ballot harvesting in Bladen County against Leslie McCrae Dowless after the November 2016 election, and factually determined that they had merit, the BOE referred its findings to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District.
            But nothing happened.
            On Dec. 19th, the state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement released a January 23, 2018 report titled, “Exhibit,” confirming what the Black Press first and exclusively reported on December 13th, that Dowless had been implicated in paying people to collect absentee ballots from voters, which is illegal in North Carolina.
            “Because the 2016 General Election was a Federal Election, and because of the seriousness of the alleged conduct associated with possible manipulation, or attempts to manipulate election results in Bladen County and elsewhere, these matters merit referral for prosecutorial review and possible criminal prosecution,” the report stated.
            “Additionally., in as much as there are possible federal violations of law, a decision was made by the state Board of Elections on December 3, 2016 to refer these matters to the United States Attorney’s Office for review.”   
            It was veteran Durham attorney Irving Joyner, who was representing the Bladen Improvement Association Political Action Committee (BIA) then, who shared that revelation with this newspaper several weeks ago after national media identified Dowless, a well-known Bladen County political operative and convicted felon, as the “person of interest’ at the center of the alleged 2018 election fraud controversy involving Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready in the Ninth Congressional District race.
            Harris won that midterm election by a scant 905 votes over McCready, mostly by absentee ballots. However, the state Board of Elections refused to certified the race, noting that, once again, some of the same curious patterns involving absentee ballots from Bladen County in 2016 were evident. Multiple investigations are underway involving the state BOE, the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, the State Bureau of Investigation, and even, reportedly, the FBI.
            As first reported by the Black Press Dec. 20th, the BIA-PAC had been accused by Dowless in 2016 of manipulating mail-in absentee-ballots. He was the District Soil and Water Conservation supervisor who was opposed by a write-in Democratic candidate named Franklin Graham. Graham’s name appeared on several straight Democratic tickets submitted on absentee ballots by voters the BIA-PAC worked with, and Dowless didn’t like it.
            He complained to the state BOE, and the McCrory Re-election Campaign and NC Republican Party followed suit, alleging that the Democratic Party-backed BIA-PAC was committing election fraud.
            But Dowless had problems of his own, as several complaints were filed against him by voters who alleged that he “…was paying certain individuals to solicit absentee request forms  and to collect absentee ballots from Bladen county voters. In doing so….,” the NCBOE report continued, “…workers employed by Dowless were required to hand-carry the ballots to Dowless in order to be paid.”
            “Dowless allegedly instructed his workers to “push” votes for certain candidates while meeting with voters,” the report added.
            Later in the NCBOE report, Dowless is alleged to have coached his workers on what to say to NCBOE investigators if contacted.
            Meanwhile, Dowless’ complaint NCBOE complaint against the BIA-PAC was probed, and officially determined that while some procedures were broken, there was no criminal or fraudulent intent, and none of the voters involved had any complaints against the BIA-PAC.
            The BOE officially dismissed it.
            However, the report continues that an attorney for then Gov. Pat McCrory, who was bitterly contesting his loss to Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, was actually behind the Dowless complaint against the BIA-PAC, alleging “…a massive scheme to run an absentee ballot mill involving hundreds of ballots, perpetrated by, and through the BIA-PAC.” The McCrory campaign attorney wanted those ballots disqualified.
            That case was referred to the US Attorney’s Office as well, but with the NCBOE note that it determined that no laws were broken. Laws were broken by Dowless in 2016, however, but until this day, there has been no action by federal authorities who knew about his activities going back at least two years ago.

NC NAACP Challenges Voter ID Law in Federal Lawsuit
December 20, 2018
Contact: Joy Cook

NC NAACP Challenges Voter ID Law in Federal Lawsuit

RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC NAACP State Conference and six branches of the NC NAACP representing voters from across the state today filed suit in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of North Carolina under the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution challenging the North Carolina General Assembly’s passage of a new discriminatory photo ID law.

“This is a brazen effort by a lame-duck, usurper legislature to once again legislate voter suppression,” said Irv Joyner, Legal Redress Chair of the NC NAACP and counsel for the plaintiffs. “This law is designed to suppress the votes of people of color.  The federal courts have seen through this legislature’s attempts to do this before and we are confident that they will see through this current attempt, as well.”

“Photo voter ID is never justified,” said Rev. Spearman, President of the NC NAACP.  “It is always discriminatory and immoral and has been the long-sought after voter suppression goal of this extremist legislature.  We are called upon once again to defend the sacred right to vote and we will not back down.”

“Armed with the same information that led to the discriminatory bill struck down by the courts in 2016, the lame-duck General Assembly did it again,” said Kirkland & Ellis’s Dan Donovan, co-counsel for the Plaintiffs.  “Since the last voting bill was struck down, the legislature still has  not identified any problem with the voting process that needed to be solved or that justifies the burden this photo ID requirement impose on voting.”

The NC NAACP requests the court for immediate relief, asking the Court to declare that the law violates federal law, and enjoin it from taking effect.
For a copy of the complaint see: FILE STAMPED COMPLAINT
The NC NAACP and local branches are represented here by the non-profit racial justice organization, Forward JusticeAttorney Irving Joyner, and pro bono law firm counsel of Kirkland and Ellis LLP. Together this legal team served as counsel in NC NAACP v. McCrory on behalf of the NC NAACP and individual plaintiffs in the Federal challenge that invalidated the last iteration of Photo Voter ID and voting rights restrictions passed in 2013 as H.B. 589, in which the Fourth Circuit struck down as unconstitutional five racially discriminatory provisions of the 2013 “monster voter suppression law” (HB 589), after determining that the challenged provisions “target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision,” and “impose[d] cures for problems that did not exist.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            In light of a recent report for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which revealed Russian attempts to suppress the black vote in 2016, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Black Caucus Diversity Task Force, co-chaired by representatives G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) and Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), called on President Donald Trump  “…to take the security of our elections seriously, and work with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the FBI to stop foreign election meddling efforts.”
            Considered the latest and most detailed account, thus far, of exactly how extensive Russian trolls were, not only in disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but skewing it in favor of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the report titled, “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency (IRA),” documents how popular social media platforms were used to urge African-American voters to stay home on Election Day.
            Reviewing thousands of ads and posts on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube  and others, the research done by Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University, and social media specialist Graphika, showed how among traditional Democratic Party support groups, African-Americans were particularly targeted with messages like, “No lives matter to Hillary Clinton. Only votes matter to Hillary Clinton,” among others. 
The St. Petersburg, Russia-based IRA began targeting Americans in 2014 before Trump officially announced for the presidency, initially drumming up primarily while, conservative Republicans tp prepare for the 2016 elections. When trump became the GOP nominee, researchers say IRA began focusing its attention towards pushing his campaign, and chipping away at Hillary Clinton by trying to demoralize the traditional Democratic Party base, most prominently African-Americans.
“The scale of their operation was unprecedented,” the report states. “They reached 126 million people on Facebook, at least 20 million users on Instagram, 1.4 million users on Twitter, and uploaded over 1,000 videos to YouTube. As Department of Justice indictments have recently revealed, this manipulation of American political discourse had a budget that exceeded $25 million USD and continued well into 2018.”
According to the report:
  •   The most prolific IRA efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted Black American communities and appear to have been focused on developing Black audiences and recruiting Black Americans as assets. 
  •   The IRA created an expansive cross-platform media mirage targeting the Black community, which shared and cross-promoted authentic Black media to create an immersive influence ecosystem. 
  •   The IRA exploited the trust of their Page audiences to develop human assets, at least some of whom were not aware of the role they played. This tactic was substantially more pronounced on Black-targeted accounts. 
The Congressional Black Caucus and its Diversity Task Force says it wants to hear from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and other social media company CEOs about what steps they are taking to make sure that their platforms are not “weaponized” against Americans again.

“We cannot allow the deceit and misinformation that characterized the 2016 elections to be repeated in the future,” the CBC said.


Monday, December 17, 2018



By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            As the state, indeed, the nation, awaits the final conclusions involving alleged election fraud in Bladen County from the NC Board of Elections (whose hearing is now scheduled for Jan. 11th), the Wake County District Attorney’s Office the State Bureau of Investigation, and now even, reportedly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation; a group of local African-American residents known as the Bladen Improvement Association (BIA), a political action committee (PAC), is relieved that they are not in the crosshairs of yet another probe into their proven lawful electoral activities.
            But they know full well what it feels like to be investigated and falsely accused just because they’re black, help voters with their ballots, and have historically endorsed mostly Democrats.
            It was just two years ago when then first-term Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, having lost his bid for re-election in a close race to Democratic challenger and then-State Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper, falsely alleged that voter “malfeasance” and “irregularities” caused his defeat in several counties across the state, including Bladen.
            McCrory and his attorneys, along with the NC Republican Party, contended that thousands of votes in over 50 counties statewide were in question; charged that Democrats were responsible; and that “felons,” people who also voted in other states, and even “dead” people, were allowed to illegally cast ballots. His goal was either to win the race outright, or meet a legal threshold so that the Republican-led NC General Assembly would then, by law, choose the “winner” of the gubernatorial election – which McCrory assumed would be him.
            Two factors cast doubt on McCrory’s claims – Donald Trump and other GOP’ers won throughout North Carolina; and all of the county election boards which certified his race were led by Republicans.
            But that didn’t stop conservative media, like Red, from taking up McCrory’s “voter fraud” crusade.
            “Did somebody say Democrat corruption?” bellowed the first line in its  Nov. 15, 2016 commentary.
            After noting that a complaint had been filed with the local Bladen County Board of Elections, “…in response to several hundred fraudulent absentee ballots, all voting a straight Democrat ticket…” it went on to allege, “The filed complaint described the situation as an “absentee ballot mill,” and it was perpetuated by the Bladen Improvement Association PAC (BIA), which is funded by the North Carolina Democrat Party.”
            And exactly who filed that complaint? None other than Leslie McCrae Dowless, the very same “person of interest” at the center of the current allegations involving illegal absentee ballot harvesting in the Mark Harris – Dan McCready Ninth Congressional District election fiasco.
            Dowless, who Republican Harris admits to knowing and hiring, is alleged to have coordinated and managed an operation during both the GOP primary last May, and the November 2018 mid-term elections, where people who worked for him illegally collected, or even changed the votes on unsealed absentee ballots distributed throughout Bladen County, ultimately delivering a 905-vote victory for Harris.
            But in 2016, it was Dowless who was claiming to be the victim of illegal absentee ballot shenanigans in his race for local Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor.
            Lawyers for the McCrory campaign latched on to Dowless’ Bladen election complaint, alleging that it was indicative of what was happening across the state. “The staggering evidence of voter fraud in Bladen County and the number of similar(read black) PACs that the North Carolina Democratic Party donated to shortly before the start of early vote requires close examination throughout the state.”
            Dowless, a convicted felon, alleged that the absentee ballots had the witness signatures of paid BIA members. Red called this “shocking evidence.”
            The state Board of Elections (NCBOE) investigated, and found that nothing the BIA did was illegal. The witness signatures (two are required) were done at the time the voter signed their ballot, and the BIA canvassers also did GOTV (get out the vote). Indeed, their names were reported to the local and state BOE by BIA. There was nothing illegal about what they did, or BIA getting contributions from the state Democratic Party, or various Democratic candidates or elected officials to operate.
            In the end, not one absentee ballot the BIA worked with was deemed illegal, and Cooper ultimately defeated McCrory statewide after a recount by over 10,000 votes, weeks later.
            “The procedures, the methodology used by the (BIA) did not violate state law,” Atty. Joyner maintained the NCBOE ruled. “They had been trained by the state board, and did it the right way.”
            Burned by the experience, the BIA, and its attorney Joyner, braced for more false allegations this year, and decided not to engage in any absentee ballot activity for the 2018 midterm elections.
            It is most likely now, given what is known about allegations pointing towards Dowless and Harris, that the Bladen Improvement Association will not be targeted this time.
            But if so, BIA and atty. Joyner stand at the ready.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach, and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call to Revival, blasted the Republican-led NC legislature Monday for using the recently called special session primarily to pass a new voter photo ID law, instead of addressing the urgent needs of those suffering in the aftermath of September’s Hurricane Florence.
            “We call a special session in the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Advent, and this legislature could have taken that time to address the needs of poor people and sick people throughout North Carolina,” Rev. Barber said. Noting that at least one million people in North Carolina do not have health insurance, Barber chided state lawmakers for not using the special session time to extend Medicare to the poor – many of whom live in the flood ravaged counties affected by Hurricane Florence.
            The NC General Assembly did pass an initial $850 million hurricane recovery package in October, $450 million of which could be spent right away for construction, rebuilding damaged schools, or help some rebuild their homes.
            Still, critics say the amount was not enough to help the many victims still dealing with the aftereffects of 2016 Hurricane Matthew.
            “Thousands of people in those areas could benefit from a raise in the minimum wage, and a living wage, that would really help them recover. Did this legislature choose to hear their cries? No!” Rev. Barber roared.
            The former president of the NC NAACP charged that lawmakers chose to “…focus on an unnecessary photo ID bill, rather than deal with the real issues that are impacting North Carolinians.”
            Barber continued that there are currently lawsuits filed challenging how the voter ID, and other proposed amendments to the state constitution were placed on the referendum ballot . He also announced that the Poor People’s Campaign in supporting a NCNAACP lawsuit against how the legislature passed the laws calling for the “unconstitutional” amendments, challenging “the whole process in the first place.”
            Rev. Barber also announced that the Poor People’s Campaign is working on a “major, major ” statewide bus tour, and a “major poor people’s march on the state Capitol in the spring of 2019.
            “We are not going to be silent,” Barber vowed. “And we’re not going to stop fighting for the 4.7 million poor people in this state, and the over one million people who do not have health care.”
            To the press, Rev. Barber said the “story” isn’t that the legislature overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.
            “The story is they called this legislature back into session, it’s an unconstitutionally constituted legislature, and instead of all of the good things they could have done, to help the hurting, the broken and the poor people of this state, they chose to act contrary to our deepest moral values, and contrary to the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and contrary to our own [state] Constitution, that says “…the first duty …of a civilized and Christian state, is to provide beneficent provisions for the poor, the orphaned and the unfortunate,” Rev. Barber said.
            “This legislature …is out of order,” Barber concluded, “… and we have to continue to fight!”


            [RALEIGH] Using the last days of its supermajority, the NC Senate voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the new voter photo ID law that passed the Republican-led legislature last week. Cooper blasted the law, say that it was a “solution in search of a problem,” but lawmakers countered that they had no choice but to pass it since voters ratified the voter ID amendment to the state Constitution during the midterm elections. The state House, at press time Tuesday, hadn’t voted to override yet, but that is expected by the end of the week.

            [BLADENSBORO]Anger and frustration were on full display during a town hall meeting at First Baptist Church in Bladensboro Tuesday as residents came together, not only to listen to leaders like Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman of the NC NAACP commit to finding out the truth behind allegations that absentee ballots were illegally manipulated during the 2018 midterm election between 9thDistrict Congressional candidates Mark Harris an Dan McCready. Several residents spoke of people coming to their homes and taking their unsealed ballots, even though that is illegal under North Carolina law. The stat Board of Elections has called for a hearing on the matter for Jan. 11th.

            [RALEIGH] The new sheriff of Wake County, Gerald Baker, has kept one of his campaign promises. Vowing, if elected, that his department would no longer work with agents of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in holding undocumented immigrants for possible deportation, Sheriff Baker released sixteen detainees from the county jail after they’d either served their term, or posted bond. Another 79 are being held for state charges, but Baker says they will soon be let go as well. Sheriff Baker is one of the newly elected sheriffs across the state who promised to no longer hold detainees for ICE.


Monday, December 10, 2018


                                                           LESLIE MCCRAE DOWLESS
                                                       BLADEN SHERIFF JIM MCVICKER

By Cash Michaels

            The former Bladen County sheriff, an African-American Democrat, alleges not only that he lost his re-election bid in 2014 because of some of the same election fraud allegations being probed now in the Rev. Mark Harris (R)– Dan McCready (D) Ninth District congressional contest, but he also believes that race was a factor as well. 
            “Race was an issue when I first ran…,” said former Bladen Sheriff Prentis Benston, “… and it’s going to remain an issue. I don’t know when it will be over with.”
In an exclusive interview Saturday, immediately after the NC NAACP Convention in Raleigh concluded, Benston, who served from 2010-2014 as sheriff, completing a 27-year career with the department, charged that Leslie McCrae Dowless, the two-time convicted felon and political operative hired by the Mark Harris campaign to “get out the vote,” also worked for Republican Jim McVicker, the current Bladen County sheriff who unseated Benston in 2014.
            “Yes, as of the 2014 election, the absentee balloting process [was] not being done above board,” Benston replied when asked if he was a victim of election “fraud” then. That fraud allegedly involved unsealed ballots from black elderly and/or afflicted voters that could be manipulated before being turned in.
            “Certainly we have found out that [Dowless’] way of doing absentee ballots through going out and picking them up from voters (which is illegal), [along with] the improper witnessing of absentee ballots (also illegal),” Benston maintained.
Now the 2018 McVicker re-election campaign has admitted that Dowless was on their payroll again, this time to help defeat African-American Democratic challenger Hakeem Brown, a former Bladen County deputy under Benston.
            Brown has not made any public allegations yet, but the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement [SBEEE] has subpoenaed records from the McVicker re-election campaign, especially after the campaign admitted to paying Dowless $8,800 between September 2017 and September 2018, according to campaign finance records.
            Sources say whatever alleged election fraud impacted the Harris-McCready race, could have easily affected the McVicker – Brown contest too, especially if Dowless was involved. 
Sheriff McVicker defeated Brown 52-48 percent.
A Dec. 21stSBEEE hearing is scheduled that could determine whether Brown files a formal complaint in his race.
Amazingly the state BOE actually cited Dowless in 2016 with doing exactly the same thing in the Benston-McVickers race that he’s accused of doing in the Harris-McCready race now. Attorney Irv Joyner said that the state BOE referred  that evidence to the US Attorney for the Eastern District at the time, who did nothing.
“The office of sheriff is an office that requires a person to be of high standards,” Benston said, noting that Bladen Sheriff’s Dept policy prohibits its officers from associating with known felons unofficially, let alone hiring them. “Certainly, I support the investigation to remove any corruption, or corrupt individual from that position.”
In addition, African-American officials of the Bladen Improvement Association (BIA) – the nonpartisan black political action committee that endorses candidates - are bracing themselves for what they say will, once again, be unfounded accusations of election fraud from Republicans who are desperate to deflect attention on their Ninth District controversy from the national media.
            In 2016, then-Republican Gov. Pat McCrory falsely accused the BIA of mishandling absentee ballots when he was narrowly defeated by Democrat Roy Cooper. After an investigation by the state BOE, the BIA was cleared. That didn’t stop Republicans and conservative media from maintaining that because BIA accepts money from the NC Democratic Party and its members that it had to be “corrupt.” 
            Prentis Benston, who is also chair of the BIA, insists that the group has endorsed Republicans too and has operated transparently since the 1960s. And if the GOP insists on trying to smear them again per the 2018 midterms, they’re in for a surprise.
            The BIA deliberately did not engage in any absentee balloting work during the 2018 midterms, atty. Joyner revealed.
            But that fact, he says, probably won’t stop the NC Republican Party from accusing the BIA of something again.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The only way to fight harder, and stronger for equal justice, is to “…come together and build power,” Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, fifth president of the NC NAACP said Saturday, during the State of the State of Civil Rights address at the 75thAnnual Convention in Raleigh of the NC conference of branches.
Echoing the words of the NAACP’s national board Chairman Leon Russell, Spearman told membership gathered from across the state, “…it’s time to organize and not agonize. Try as you may to find it, there is no half-way ground between right and wrong. Either the one or the other must prevail. And I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna push right with all my might.”
Dr. Spearman emphasized the need for the NCNAACP and its branches statewide to intensify their political action and community action activities “…to build a strategic year-round GOTV (get out the vote) curriculum going forward.” 
Certainly we must preach the gospel of morality and the NC NAACP has, but when your civil and political rights are being encroached upon every hour we must also preach the gospel of organization,” The NC NAACP president maintained. “People who will not organize and put themselves under the wisest and best of their leaders cannot expect other people to look after their interests.” 
Spearman also declared that the civil rights group must recommit itself to fighting voter suppression. 
“We must find ways of fostering an inclusive, informed and more resolute electorate,” he said. “This will take an approach that considers comprehensive voter outreach, education, civic engagement and community organizing and power-building. In short, we must broaden the framing of the problem of voter suppression and craft tools for fighting it. The new wave of voting restrictions demands it.” 
The NC NAACP president blasted the recent “lame duck” session of the Republican-led NC General Assembly, which convened to pass new voter photo ID legislation based on their ratified voter ID amendment that Spearman considers yet another extension of the GOP’s voter suppression efforts. 
“The NC NAACP contends that this General Assembly did not have the authority to place any amendments on the ballot by virtue that it is an unconstitutionally constituted body. It falls into the category of “usurper” government.” 
Spearman continued, “There really is nothing new under the sun here in the state of North Carolina, lest we forget the year was 1898 when Alfred Moore Waddell, the ex-congressman from black belt Wilmington, told an election evening crowd to “go to the polls tomorrow and if you find the Negro out voting, tell him to leave the polls and if he refuses, kill him, shoot him down in his tracks.” 
On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper visited the convention. The gubernatorial visit was notable because last year, then NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber refused to invite the Democratic governor because he would not look into the Dontae Sharpe case, a black man supporters say was falsely convicted of a crime he did not commit.
The convention also had to be abbreviate to just a day-and-a-half because of an impending snowstorm that threatened to trap many convention attendees in Raleigh if they didn’t adjourn by 12 noon Saturday.
The convention weekend ended on a sad note. 
NCNAACP members received word Sunday of the passing of 97-year-old Rosa Nell Eaton, a plaintiff in the NC NAACP’s successful lawsuit against the Republican-led NC General Assembly and its 2013 voter photo I.D. law, which was eventually overturned by a federal court. “ While we mourn, at the same time, we celebrate. We celebrate her steadfastness and her strength. We celebrate her commitment and her conviction. We celebrate her righteousness and her resolve. What an inspiration it was to watch her lead the way for us to fight and win the monstrous voter suppression bill of all,” Dr. Spearman said in a press release Sunday. “Mother Eaton kept her eye on the prize.”

            [RALEIGH] At press time Tuesday, at least three deaths were attributed to the monster snowstorm that crippled the state Sunday and Monday. A truck driver succumbed to a heart attack while digging his rig out of the snow along Interstate 77 in Yadkin County Sunday. A woman in hospice care in Haywood County dies when her oxygen supply was cut off due to a power outage. And a driver in Charlotte was killed when a tree fell on his vehicle Sunday afternoon. Thousands of homes and businesses across the state experienced power outages, as residents had to dig out amidst upwards of 12 inches of snow.

            [CHAPEL HILL] All employees of the UNC Health Care System will, as of July 19th, earn a minimum of $15.00 per hour. The move is to “…attract and retain a talented workforce” said the system through a press release issued Tuesday. The increase is more than double the national and state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and will affect 9,000 employees, costing the system $15 million annually.

            [SEATTLE, WASH] The FBI is investigating an alleged attack by suspected white supremacists over the weekend on a black disc jockey at a local tavern, and one of the suspects is a white woman from Raleigh. Leah Northcraft, 25, is identified as being one of eight suspects who, according to authorities, who entered the Rec Room Bar and Grill, beat and stomped the black disc jockey as they tried to take over his equipment, calling him racial slurs in the process. They also attacked an Asian man who came to assist the DJ. Police apprehended the suspects as they attempted to get away. Court papers identify the suspects as being members of the Aryan Brotherhood.

Monday, December 3, 2018



[RALEIGH] At press time, the Republican-led NC House was debating passage of its own voter photo identification measure. The state Senate passed its version last week. The range of IDs that would be acceptable beyond a NC driver’s license include student IDs, US passports, college student IDs , and others. Some Republicans argue that the measure is too lenient, while Democrats counter that the voter fraud controversy with absentee ballots in the 9thCongressional District race are not being addressed. Once passed, the House and Senate versions will have to go to conference.

[BLADEN COUNTY] It is indeed ironic that while Republicans continue to warn of voter fraud from in-person voting – something that rarely, if at all, ever happens – the biggest voter fraud scandal in the nation, right now, involves a Republican candidate for the Ninth Congressional District seat, Rev. Mark Harris, and the accusation that an operative for Harris secured absentee ballots from black voters in Bladen County and got rid of them in an effort to skew the race against the Democratic opponent. The state Board of Elections has voted not to certify Harris’ 905 vote victory from the midterm elections, and the Wake County District Attorney’ Office, assigned to investigate major voting fraud cases statewide, is probing the matter. The NY Times, Washington Post, and all of the major network news channels are covering the story and so are the late night comedians. Congressional Democrats say Harris will not be seated until the matter is cleared up.

[WAKE] All eight black sheriffs elected to office during the 2018 midterm elections in November have been now sworn-in into office and are officially on the job. Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker took his oath Sunday evening at Elevation Baptist Church in Knightdale. On Monday, new Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead also took the oath, promising to make positive changes to the sheriff’s department to serve citizens better. In Mecklenburg County, Forsyth County, and Guilford counties, new black sheriffs also took over law and order leadership to protect their citizens. In Greenville, Pitt County made history by swearing in the state’s first ever black female sheriff ever, Paula Dance. She is also only the fifth in the entire country.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            [Editor’s Note – Our reporter was the ONLY member of the press to accompany the NCNAACP delegation to Washington last week to lobby against the Thomas Farr judicial confirmation, and was with them every step of the way as they met with two Democratic senators, and four Republican Senate staffs – including that of SC Senator Tim Scott.
            This is his EXCLUSIVE account of how the NC NAACP delegation tirelessly, but successfully, accomplished their mission.]
They were on a mission from North Carolina.
            Just after 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28th, a bus carrying over thirty members from eleven branches of the North Carolina NAACP, made its way from Raleigh to Washington, D.C. to lobby U.S. senators not to confirm Pres. Trump’s nomination of Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr to a federal judicial bench in the state’s Eastern District.
            That district is comprised of 44 counties from Wake to New Hanover, with court held in six cities.  
The Eastern District is also home to approximately 32 percent of North Carolina’s African-American population, with 28 out of 44 counties having populations of color as high as 50 percent
            And yet, in the district’s 145-year history, there has never been an African-American to preside over a federal court there. It’s had a vacant bench for the past 11 years, and when President Barack Obama nominated two qualified black females for the post (including a former NC Supreme Court associate justice), Sen. Richard Burr (R- NC), blocked both nominations, making sure that neither candidate got even a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
            That has always rankled North Carolina’s civil rights community, and Trump nominating Raleigh Attorney Thomas Farr in 2017 didn’t help.
            Farr was already well-known as a campaign attorney for the late segregationist Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and had been associated with the NCGOP’s so-called “ballot security” black voter suppression initiative in 1990, where over 120,000 post cards were sent to black Democrats across the state, erroneously threatening them with “five years in jail” if they were found to be voting outside of their assigned precincts.
            A federal consent degree ultimately forced the Helms campaign to stop the illegal, and racially intimidating practice
            In later years, attorney Farr carved out a reputation for defending companies against claims of racial and sexual discrimination. And after Republicans won majorities in the NC General Assembly in 2011, and later began passing voter photo ID legislation and skewed redistricting plans – Farr represented GOP legislative leaders, legally defending schemes that were later ruled unconstitutional for their apparent intent to disenfranchise black voters.
            Having a man with a racial history like Farr being confirmed to a lifetime serving on a federal bench in a judicial district where much of North Carolina’s African-American population resides, was something North Carolina’s oldest “and boldest” civil rights organization was not about to tolerate.
            Shortly after Farr initially had what amounted to a 12-minute Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and passed muster earlier this year, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman and fellow members were there lobbying against him.
            Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KTY) decided, however, to delay final confirmation vote until after the midterms, perhaps to quiet the building opposition and uproar.
            The move only gave Farr’s critics more time to do their homework, however, so that if his confirmation vote would be finally addressed by the Senate Republican majority before the current Congress ended, Spearman and the NCNAACP were ready.
            And yet, as ready and determined as they were, something happened before they arrived in Washington that no one expected, and it strengthened their mission beyond anything they had imagined.
            Before Dr. Spearman even arrived in a very cold and windy nation’s capital, he was carrying a “big gun” to the fight – former Charlotte mayor, and Jesse Helms’ black opponent in the contentious 1990 U.S. Senate race, Harvey Gantt.
            Spearman had wanted to bring the retired Gantt with him to Washington to help lobby Republican senators personally, but instead, Gantt sent a statement on NC NAACP letterhead which said, in part, that he opposed Farr’s confirmation because of his role in the Helms campaign, accused Farr of  “…interfering with the voting rights of Black North Carolinians…,”and concluded by stating flatly that, “The Senate should reject his nomination.”
            Rev. Spearman brought other letters of protest too, asking McConnell not to confirm Farr, including one from the NC Legislative Black Caucus, which called Farr “…a race-baiting jurist…”
            When the NC NAACP contingent finally arrived in D.C., they were met at the historic United Methodist Building across from the U.S. Supreme Court by Hilary O. Shelton, Washington Bureau director of the NAACP. That’s when Shelton and his staff shared with NCNAACP members that the night before, The Washington Post reported that a previously unknown 1991 U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) report “recommended [a] lawsuit against the North Carolina Republican Party and the Helms for Senate Committee,” alleging after an investigation that the named defendants “…intimidated and threatened or attempted to intimidate and threaten black voters concerning their right to vote…”
            On Page 12, paragraph 7 of the DOJ report (a copy of which was handed out to each member of the NCNAACP delegation) it stated that Thomas Farr “…was the primary coordinator of the 1984 “ballot security program”” for the NCGOP and the Helms for Senate Committee, which involved sending out postcards to predominately black voting districts in order to challenge some at the polls on Election Day.
            The paragraph went on to say that while Farr “…did not play an active role in the 1990 Helms campaign, he was sufficiently connected to the Helms Committee [to help plan the 1990 ballot security program].
            So not only did Farr coordinate the 1984 voter suppression effort of the NC Republican Committee and Helms’ reelection bid against then Gov. Jim Hunt, but based of his experience, advised on the 1990 effort against Gantt. Farr was more involved that he publicly admitted in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, and subsequent written inquiry from Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein.
            He was later forced to admit that he was more involved than he first let on.
            With Shelton leading the way, the NCNAACP delegation made its way to the Dirksen Senate Office Building a short walking distance away, intent not only on intensely lobbying the four Republican senators they had appointments with not to confirm Farr, but to drive home the new information per the 1991 DOJ report that nailed Farr for his role in ballot security activities in not one, but two racially charged elections.
            The goal – either to have the nomination pulled in light of the new information, or to get at least one other Republican senator to join Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona to oppose Farr’s nomination. Flake, who is stepping down after this Congress, had already signaled that he would oppose Farr’s confirmation. If one other GOP senator could be convinced to join Flake, Senate Democrats would have 51 votes against, enough to sink the nomination, even if Vice President Pence came in to vote with the Republicans.
            The confirmation with the entire Senate was scheduled for the next day, November 29th.
            The first meeting was with the staffs of North Carolina’s two Republican senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, in Tillis’ office. The staffs were polite to the extent that they needed to be, but still seemed unsympathetic.
            The next meeting was over in the Hart Senate Office Building next door with a staffer for Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who at least seemed interested, compared to the Burr and Tillis staffers.
            The final meeting was with the staff of Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. 
            Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, was being watched very carefully by numerous observers. The thinking was despite his conservative politics, even Scott couldn’t deny the racism of former colleague Jesse Helms, or those who worked for him.
It was there where Shelton, Rev. Spearman, various NCNAACP members, and even Derrick Johnson, national president of the NAACP who joined the meeting later unexpectedly, implored Scott’s staffers to impress upon their boss the significance of the DOJ revelations, and how they prove that Thomas Farr “was not fit” to serve a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
            Spearman even pressed the staffers to make sure they had Sen. Scott speak with Harvey Gantt, a South Carolina native, and the first black student to attend Clemson University.
            In between meetings with the Republican senate staffs, the NC NAACP delegation met with Democratic senators Kamala Harris of California, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
            Both urged the delegation to “Fight On!”
            As the long day ended, the tired NCNAACP’ers left for home in North Carolina, worn, but hopeful that they made their point effectively against Farr’s confirmation.
            The next day, Sen. Scott announced that after much thought, speaking with Farr on the phone, and close study of the 1991 DOJ report, he would vote “no” on confirmation.
            The reaction in North Carolina was off the scale.
            “I commend Sen. Scott and the other Senators who took a firm stand to protect the integrity of the federal judiciary…,” applauded NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1)
            “[Farr] should never have been nominated,” declared National NAACP Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson in his victory statement.
            “We traveled to Washington because we’re committed teachers,” Dr. Spearman said, “…and US Senators needed a voting rights lesson.”
            So what will be Pres. Trump and Senate Republicans next move? The Farr nomination is only one of two that have gone down in flames during Trump’s term, with 84 judicial nominees confirmed over the past two years.
            Some observers suggest Trump and the Republicans just may wait until the next Congress and new GOP-led Senate to re-nominate Farr, this time with a bigger Republican majority.
            But until that happens, if it happens, Rev. Spearman and the NCNAACP are proud that they hammered their point home when it most counted…at the 11thhour.
            “As of today, we know that our fight and our tenacity has paid off,” Rev. Dr. Spearman said. “We claim victory today, but we’re not done fighting.”