Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
BIG DONOR-NORTH CAROLINA-INDICTMENTS
N. Carolina GOP chairman, major donor face bribery charges
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina GOP Chairman Robin Hayes and investment firm founder Greg Lindberg are among four people facing federal bribery and wire fraud charges.
In federal indictments, prosecutors say that in a series of clandestine meetings in closed restaurants and small airport terminals, the pressured insurance magnate and his associates offered North Carolina’s insurance commissioner money for special treatment.
Hayes also was charged with lying to the FBI. The 73-year-old former congressman announced Monday that he wouldn’t seek re-election as party chairman, citing health problems.
Lindberg – largely unknown politically until his contributions started flowing heavily in 2017 – has given more than $5 million to North Carolina candidates, party committees and independent expenditure groups.
The four defendants appeared Tuesday before a federal magistrate.
BIG DONOR-NORTH CAROLINA-INDICTMENTS-THE LATEST
The Latest: Commissioner: I acted as investigators directed
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina elected official who helped a criminal probe that led to charges against the state Republican Party chairman and a big-time donor says he acted at the direction of federal investigators.
Republican state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey talked to The Associated Press on Tuesday, shortly after a federal grand jury’s indictment against four people was made public.
The indictment describes Causey as being involved in conversations and meetings with investment firm founder Greg Lindberg, Lindberg’s associates and state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes. Prosecutors said they promised Causey campaign dollars in exchange for things Lindberg wanted.
Causey wasn’t charged. He says he’s not the target of any investigation. He says he had contacted federal investigators because his agency was having issues with Lindberg’s insurance-related firms.
Causey previously returned a donation from Lindberg. Causey took other donations from the state GOP, which had connections to Lindberg, and gave them to the federal government.
North Carolina charter school to allow belted shorts, pants
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina charter school that required girls to wear skirts has revised the policy after a federal judge ruled it amounted to unconstitutional sex discrimination.
Charter Day School officials sent a letter Tuesday telling parents it would add belted shorts and pants in the appropriate school color as alternatives to the girls’ current uniform options of skorts, jumpers, and skirts.
The new options take effect with the announcement.
The school in Leland said it wanted to avoid diversions as litigation over the clothing policy continues.
The kindergarten through eighth-grade school is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Wilmington.
U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled last Thursday that the school can’t enforce the skirts-only rule as part of its dress code that punishes violations with suspensions and even expulsion.
Fewer dogfish to be commercially fished on East Coast in ’19
BOSTON (AP) – Federal fishing regulators say they’re reducing the quota for a small species of shark that is fished commercially off the East Coast.
Fishermen catch spiny dogfish off the eastern states, from Maine to North Carolina. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says quota for the dogfish will be cut by nearly 50 percent this year. That will leave the commercial quota at about 20.5 million pounds.
The agency says the quota will climb back up in 2020 and 2021 because the dogfish population is expected to grow. That would bring with it a reduced risk of overfishing the species, which is harvested for use as food. Dogfish are primarily consumed in Europe.
Cockpit odor spurs American Airlines emergency landing in NC
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Possible electrical fumes in the cockpit spurred an American Airlines flight to make an emergency landing in North Carolina.
Authorities tell news outlets that American flight 809 from Philadelphia to Orlando landed Tuesday afternoon at Wilmington International Airport. Deputy Airport Director Gary Broughton said the flight crew detected the odor in the cockpit of the Airbus A321 and deployed oxygen masks before asking to be diverted to Wilmington.
The aircraft had 178 passengers and a crew of six on board.
The plane taxied to the gate and passengers were allowed to leave the aircraft through the jet bridge. Emergency personnel were deployed but no injuries were reported.
An American Airlines maintenance crew was inspecting the aircraft Tuesday afternoon.
GUN SANCTUARY-RESOLUTION TABLED
North Carolina commissioners table ‘gun sanctuary’ idea
BURGAW, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina board of commissioners has tabled a plan to declare its county a ‘gun sanctuary.’
News outlets report the Pender County Board of Commissioners voted on Monday to table the resolution after hearing from at least a dozen opponents, some of whom said passing the resolution would encourage a disregard for the law and deter tourism.
Commissioners modeled the resolution after a similar idea which was passed by Cherokee County commissioners last month. Pender commissioners borrowed a paragraph from that resolution which said the commissioners would, in fact, decline to enforce any tighter federal or state restrictions on guns.
Board Chairman George Brown and Commissioner David Williams argued for amending the resolution, but another commissioner, Jackie Newton, argued that the resolution was “unnecessary and frivolous.”
Police: Man steals ambulance as crews treating patient
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a man stole an ambulance while paramedics were treating a patient in the back.
News outlets report no one was injured. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say in a statement that the man was being chased by officers Monday.
WSOC-TV reports the medics and patient exited the ambulance when the man refused to get out of the driver’s seat.
Police say officers encountered the man after getting a call about a person damaging property in an office building. They say the man exited the building and found the ambulance in a parking lot.
Video shows the ambulance creating a pile of parked cars when it was rammed into several outside. The man got out after crashing and was detained.
Police say he was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
LABOR COMMISSIONER-NOT RUNNING
Cherie Berry, the ‘elevator lady,’ won’t seek re-election
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s “elevator lady” is punching the last buttons on her career as state labor commissioner next year.
Republican Commissioner Cherie Berry announced Tuesday she would not seek re-election in 2020, or 20 years after she was first elected to the job. Her colleagues on the Council of State – comprised of Gov. Roy Cooper and other statewide elected leaders – gave her a standing ovation following her announcement at the council’s monthly meeting.
Berry brought wide recognition to her otherwise little-known post by putting her photo on inspection certificates inside 28,000 elevators statewide. With it came the nickname “elevator lady” or “elevator queen.” It led to a Twitter parody account and even a song.
Berry believes her picture has helped children feel safe entering elevators.