The Charlotte Observer

Morgan sold out his party

N.C. House co-speaker "stands for everything that is wrong in politics"

Robert M. Pittenger of Charlotte, who represents Mecklenburg's District 40 in the N.C. Senate, in response to the Dec. 9 story "GOP spars over districts":

I have been criticized by Republican House Co-Speaker Richard Morgan for requesting that he refund a campaign contribution.

Morgan Speaker Morgan supported the Democrat-drawn Senate redistricting maps, which all 23 Senate Republicans rejected because we felt the districts were gerrymandered and unconstitutional. The issue again returns to the courts, where Republicans prevailed in 10 court hearings last year.

The state attorney general's office will represent the Democrats at taxpayer expense, while Republicans must privately fund their own legal costs. For these reasons, I asked for a refund of my campaign contribution to Rep. Morgan.

From Ed McMahan of Charlotte, who represents Mecklenburg's District 105 in the N.C. House of Representatives:

Hooray for Sen. Robert Pittenger and Rep. John Rhodes for telling the truth about Rep. Richard Morgan and his willingness to "destroy" anyone (mostly Republican colleagues) for his own personal gain.

Rep. Morgan and four of our House Republicans "sold out" our Republican majority for him to be co-speaker while the remaining 55 Republican members were negotiating an arrangement that would share power equally, as one would expect in a 60-60 division.

I ask readers if they would support a person either financially or otherwise that has a map drafted and passed that forces 16 Republican incumbents to run against each other, almost surely guaranteeing a Democratic majority in both the N.C. House and Senate. As a result of Rep. Morgan's action against his own party for personal gain, the Republican Party now has no recourse but to resort to a very expensive and necessary lawsuit.

Sen. Pittenger and Rep. Rhodes speak the absolute truth about Rep. Morgan. He is only about himself and his personal power. Rep. Morgan stands for everything that is wrong in politics.

From Patrick Ballantine of Wilmington, leader of the Republican minority in the N.C. Senate:

Sen. Robert Pittenger worked tirelessly to unify Republican support for a constitutional plan during the recent special legislative session on redistricting.

The gerrymandered plan passed by Democrats diluted black districts in an effort to elect white Democrats, which was the case in Mecklenburg County. The Democrats' plan placed Sens. Pittenger and Bob Rucho in the same district, clearly a punitive measure.

Regretfully, Sen. Pittenger's efforts to unify the party did not succeed. The taxpayers will have to pay for a lawsuit as the attorney general's office defends the Democrat's unconstitutional plan. Republicans must finance their own lawsuit.

This could have been avoided if all House and Senate Republican leaders had worked together to achieve Sen. Pittenger's goal of unity on a redistricting plan. I'm disappointed that Co-Speaker Morgan supported the gerrymandered, unconstitutional Democrat Senate plan, requiring us to return to court.

Any suggestion that Sen. Pittenger was self-serving is erroneous. He is a man of character. His attempt to maintain the districts in Mecklenburg is based on principle and the rule of law.

(photocopy of printed version of this article -- note: it is a 550K file)
(Co-SPeaker Morgan replies - 1/12/2004 Charlotte Observer)

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