NC General Assembly
Speaker of the House Tim Moore
The N.C. Insider's Patrick Gannon had an interesting story today
indicating that Speaker Tim Moore has taken a page out of the Republican nominee for president's playbook
. How, you ask? By getting ready to sue the pants off of some poor, unsuspecting North Carolina media outlet for libel.
In a phone interview with the N.C. Insider State Government News Service, Moore declined to name the media organization. Andy Munn, a Moore spokesman, confirmed that the speaker’s target was not one of the McClatchy publications in North Carolina, which include The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and the Insider, a daily political newsletter emailed to subscribers.
“We are in discussions with the other party and their attorney,” said Moore, a Kings Mountain Republican. “It is an action where I am the one pursuing an action potentially for libel.” In general, libel refers to a published false statement that damages a person’s reputation.
Moore’s campaign has paid the Big Apple firm Carter, Ledyard and Milburn LLP more than $22,000 since January, according to campaign disclosure reports filed with the State Board of Elections. Asked what those payments were for, Moore said the possible libel case.
Gannon cleared the McClatchy properties, but Munn declined to name names aside from that. So, who is Moore suing? We've got a theory about that.
WBTV is the CBS-affiliated television station in Charlotte. We talked about them recently because one of their reporters posted a leaked draft of the HB 2 "fix," possibly obtained via House Majority Leader Mike Hager
. That reporter, Nick Ochsner, has a bit of a history with Moore.
Ochsner has been relentless in his reporting on the House speaker, breaking the story that Moore had been committing campaign finance violations since 2007
by not itemizing credit card purchases, which is required by state law
. Moore later amended five years' worth of reports
after being audited by the state Board of Elections. Here's video of a particularly testy exchange between the two over the alleged violations.
Ochsner's investigation led to an FBI probe in December
. As Gannon noted in his report, the Moore campaign started paying the law firm in January. The kicker? Before he became an investigative reporter for WBTV, Ochsner was in the running to become his communications director
As punishment for the WBTV reporter doing his job, Rep. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg) emailed all Republican conference members telling them not to talk to Ochsner. North Carolina GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse, as Dallas Woodhouse is wont to do, sent an email to WBTV calling Ochsner's reporting on Moore an "extreme conflict of interest," because Moore considered hiring Ochsner
. (You can't make this up.)
Given that Ochsner's reporting on the HB 2 fix helped to put the final nail in the coffin for Moore's solution to fix the mess he created with HB 2, the timing of this news - three weeks after that happened - is interesting, to say the least. We reached out to WBTV, but were told that they hadn't heard anything regarding the lawsuit.
We also reached out to both Ochsner and Moore's office for comment, but haven't heard back from them as of press time. In the meantime, many thanks to Peter Thiel for emboldening the powerful to sue media outlets
. Free speech is alive and well.
(In a twist, we wrote about Ochsner back in 2008
, when he was a young attendee at the Republican National Convention.)