Friday News: Sins of Omission


NC GOP'S "EXPERT WITNESS" GAVE FALSE TESTIMONY IN GERRYMANDERING TRIAL: The trial challenging North Carolina’s legislative lines as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders took a dramatic turn Thursday when an expert witness for Republican lawmakers admitted some of his testimony on their behalf was incorrect. The challengers used that admission to ask that testimony by Claremont McKenna College political scientist Douglas Johnson be struck from the record. “His testimony in his direct (examination) is just incorrect,” said Daniel Jacobson, a lawyer who represents the redistricting reform group Common Cause NC. “The numbers are wrong.” Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway, who is leading the panel, said North Carolina’s rules for expert witnesses say that “his opinions must be the product of reliable methods and principles ... and the principles used by Dr. Johnson were not reliable.”

INDICTED BUSINESSMAN'S PAC FORFEITS JUST UNDER HALF A MILLION TO FEDS: A political action committee funded by mega-donor Greg Lindberg, and specifically mentioned in Lindberg's federal bribery indictment, forfeited more than $475,000 to the U.S. Department of Justice shortly after the indictment was filed, new campaign finance records show. N.C. Growth and Prosperity is a PAC that Lindberg and his team created last year, and its political purpose was never publicly clear. But the treasurer was John Palermo, a Lindberg associate indicted by a federal grand jury in March along with Lindberg, then-North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes and another Lindberg associate named John Gray. All four are accused of trying to funnel bribe money to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, who was cooperating with federal investigators. All four have pleaded not guilty, and a trial is tentatively slated for September.

"TRUMP EFFECT" HITS RALEIGH AS WHITE WOMAN USES RACIAL SLUR AT BONEFISH GRILL: A white woman was recorded using a racial slur as she confronted black women at a nearby table in a North Carolina restaurant. WRAL-TV obtained video showing the verbal confrontation at the Bonefish Grill in Raleigh’s upscale North Hills shopping area, where Nancy Goodman told the women they were being too loud. The station interviewed Goodman afterward, and she said she wasn’t sorry -- she said she’d use the slur again because the women were being rude. That shocked one of the black women at the table, Lakesha Shaw, who told WRAL she was stung by the slur. Goodman later posted a statement on Facebook apologizing to her “family, friends and other patrons in the bar.” She blamed her “extreme anxiety” and said “I am ashamed of my actions.”

TRUMP'S CABINET MESS IS INTENTIONAL, BECAUSE IT GIVES HIM MORE POWER OVER DEPARTMENTS: The wait for Cabinet secretaries to be nominated and confirmed has become standard operating procedure in the Trump administration. In the past two-and-a-half years, there’s been only about four months when Trump had a full Cabinet of Senate-confirmed leaders. And several agencies have gone through four changes at the top. But Trump has said that he likes the churn at the top of the agencies. “I sort of like ‘acting,’” he told reporters in January, after a round of departures. “It gives me more flexibility.” But the turnover is starkly different from agency leadership during the administrations of former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. During Trump’s tenure, only one of the ‘Big Four’ secretaries (State, Treasury, Defense and Justice) and the Homeland Security chief has been in the department since the beginning. The five of them went unchanged in the same period of the two previous presidents.

UNDER INTENSE PRESSURE FROM DEMONSTRATORS, PUERTO RICO'S GOVERNOR RESIGNS: After weeks of flag-waving, cowbell-clanging protests in the streets, Puerto Ricans on Thursday celebrated the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, even as they debated where the movement should go from here and how to root out the corruption and other chronic problems that fueled the unrest. Some protesters immediately set their sights next on driving out Rosselló's designated successor as governor, Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez. The governor's unprecedented resignation, which came at nearly midnight on Wednesday after a series of huge demonstrations, was a big victory for the tens of thousands who took to the streets. To some, it seemed to open an endless array of possibilities on this U.S. island territory of 3.2 million people. "It's a new world," said political expert Mario Negrón Portillo. "This can bring about change and consequences that we've never seen before."