NC Republicans tie Democrats’ pledge to defund the police

The issue: House Speaker Tim Moore accused House Democrats of taking more than $100,000 from the group Future Now Fund in exchange for promising to support legislation that would defund the police.

Why we’re checking this

A series of news releases, tweets and a news conference Monday afternoon led to tension and accusations between Democrats and Republicans.

House Minority Leader Darren Jackson called Moore’s campaign news release “a lie” and “libelous” ahead of Moore’s news conference Monday.

“This entire press release is a lie,” Jackson tweeted Monday. “The pledge folks signed 2 years ago (before this slogan defund even existed) is on the website. It says nothing about police funding. I don’t blame you for not wanting to talk about Repub record on education and healthcare. But lying is wrong.”

Moore called signing the pledge “a betrayal of the basic public trust to keep families safe, particularly in times of crisis.”

“It is stunning that House Democrats in North Carolina would sign a pledge to defund law enforcement, and that so many in their caucus would join with radical national liberals promising to cut funding for police officers who protect innocent people,” Moore said.

What you need to know

Future Now Fund gave $59,400 to 11 Democratic candidates for state House this year, giving each the maximum contribution of $5,400.

Those candidates include:

  • Nicole Quick, House District 59 candidate
  • Joe Sam Queen, District 119 incumbent
  • Christy Clark, District 98 incumbent
  • Ray Russell, District 93 incumbent
  • Sydney Batch, District 37 incumbent
  • Brian Farkas, District 9 candidate
  • Kimberly Hardy, District 43 candidate
  • Ricky Hurtado, District 63 candidate
  • Frances Jackson, District 45 candidate
  • Dan Besse, District 74 candidate
  • Aimy Steele, District 82 candidate.

The N.C. Democratic Party also received $50,000 from the Future Now Fund on June 30, according to the Board of Elections. On June 25, Future Now Fund tweeted that it was matching an hour’s worth of donations given during an NC Day of Giving fundraiser held by the party that day. Future Now Fund Executive Director Daniel Squadron said in a video the matching funds would support House Democrats.

At least 30 Democratic House members, along with dozens of candidates who either are running now or ran in 2018, have signed a pledge from Future Now Fund.

But Squadron said they did not sign on or pledge to defund the police or to carry out model legislation that riled up Republicans Monday.

“America’s Goals Pledge is not a one-size fits all pledge or an endorsement of a single policy,” Squadron told The News & Observer. “It’s shameful and disgusting that the North Carolina House Speaker is lying to the people in his state. In fact, it’s a lie built on a lie.”

This is what happened

In 2018 and 2020, some House Democrats and candidates signed the pledge.

Future Now says it serves as a way to “improve Americans’ lives” by winning state legislative majorities and then working with those majorities to “achieve goals for the common good,” according to the fund’s mission statement.

Jackson told The News & Observer Monday that he is one of the Democrats who signed the America’s Goals Pledge in 2018. He said when he signed the pledge, it contained only two topics regarding policing: ending mass incarceration and protecting constituents from racial profiling. He supports both.

Jackson said defunding police wasn’t part of the pledge, and Squadron said Monday the organization has never taken a stance on the topic.

The pledge’s landing page online has seven areas of focus that includes jobs, affordable quality health care, investing in children, empowering people over special interests, equal opportunity and rights, sustainable infrastructure, resilience and innovation and clean air, water and energy.

“The pledge is a commitment to work toward shared goals … It’s shocking North Carolina Republicans oppose these goals,” Squadron said. “America’s Goals is about results to improve lives. It does not define one-size-fits-all policies, just the measurable outcomes.”

The pledge has been signed by 1,011 candidates and lawmakers in 50 states.

Defunding police became the rallying cry for some protesters after the killing of George Floyd. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, during his arrest when a white officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

Floyd’s death led protesters to call for the defunding of police and racial equality. Riots have broken out from some of the protests in cities across the nation, causing destruction.

And this is where things get confusing.

In some cases, candidates signed the pledge two years before Floyd’s death.

But it’s not clear when the model policy, called the Reimagine Communities Act, was added as a subtopic under the pledge. It calls for the reallocation of law enforcement funding and an examination of the state’s police funding to reduce excessive policing.

The signature statement reads: “By signing below, I pledge to advocate for these goals, and work to achieve these targets in my state by 2030 or sooner.”

Moore, in his news release, says, “The House Democratic caucus in North Carolina has taken significant funding in exchange for its signed pledge to conduct a reassessment of police funding and a reallocation of funding.”

The model policy said it is meant to establish “a commission to examine police funding in state and provide evidence-based ways to generate savings and increase public safety by reallocating funds toward proven methods to support communities, and report annually with proposed action for the executive and legislative branches.”

The proposed bill breaks down who would serve on the commission. It includes the governor in a non-voting role, two members of the Senate proposed by the the Senate president and the minority leader; two members of the House chosen by the speaker of the House and the minority leader; the attorney general; and the head of the state’s public defender association.

Other nonvoting members would also serve on the commission.

The commission would assess state and local policing budgets with peer-reviewed research on effective policing practices, crime prevention, policing alternatives and community investment to support public safety and budgets from other states, the proposed bill said.

The commission would seek public input on youth programs, mental health services, housing and homelessness prevention services, job training and creation and small business support.

Moore’s news conference, where he called the pledge “radical,” included statements by other lawmakers and sheriffs from around the state.

Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page said he would be ashamed if he had signed the pledge, while Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes thanked fellow Republicans for “having our backs.”

“We look at this pledge that is signed by the far left of the House and it’s labeled as reallocation,” Hughes said. “Let’s call it what it is, it is defunding, and it upsets me greatly that we have elected officials that would purposely sign this knowing good and well that it could bring harm to our citizens in this state.”

Hughes called out a second model policy that would prevent military gear from being allocated to law enforcement agencies.

N.C. House Republican Caucus Director Stephen Wiley said at least one model policy from the organization has been introduced in the General Assembly, a “red flag” law allowing for gun protection orders.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s task force on racial equity has discussed topics that include allowing some felons who have served their sentence the right to vote; ending cash bail; examining the disproportionate punishments of students in schools; and preventing law enforcement from being rehired after misconduct.

Jackson said Monday’s news conference is a way to distract voters from topics like health care and education, two topics Jackson said Republicans can’t use to run because of their record.

Moore called on House Democrats to renounce the pledge and give back the money.

Squadron called on Moore to apologize to North Carolinians “for opposing” the pledge’s topics.

Our sources:

Future Now Fund

The N.C. State Board of Elections

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

N.C. House Minority Leader Darren Jackson

N.C. House GOP Caucus Director Stephen Wiley

Future Now Fund Executive Director Daniel Squadron

The N.C. Democratic Party’s news release

House Speaker Tim Moore’s news release

This story was produced by The News & Observer Fact-Checking Project, which shares fact-checks with newsrooms statewide. It was edited by politics editor Jordan Schrader and Breaking News and Features Editor Jessica Banov Submit a suggestion for what we should check, or a comment or suggestion about our fact-checking, at bit.ly/nandofactcheck.

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