Raleigh – In late June, the NC GOP and former Representative Chris Millis snuck into the 2017 budget a hidden, six-figure giveaway to prominent GOP donor and real estate developer Raiford Trask. Just one month later, Millis’ engineering firm released plans to build a separate project owned by Heide Trask Jr., a member of the Trask family.
In a notoriously top-down legislature, Senate Leader Berger and Speaker Moore would have had to approve the earmark before making the final budget. This taxpayer-funded giveaway is shocking but shows how today’s NC GOP operates – putting donors ahead of taxpayers – and raises serious questions for GOP leaders and their caucus:
- Was the NC GOP caucus looking out for a longstanding GOP donor at the expense of NC taxpayers?
The developer, Raiford Trask, and his family are prominent GOP donors. Raiford has given nearly $30,000 to GOP politicians and causes, including nearly $7,000 to chief budget writer Sen. Harry Brown. Berger and Moore keep an iron first on their caucus, meaning the earmark surely passed by not only Sen. Brown’s desk but also GOP leadership’s.
- Did former Rep. Millis give a six figure, taxpayer-funded giveaway to a GOP megadonor to get a leg up on his competitors and secure future work for his engineering firm?
The Trask family owns land across Pender and New Hanover counties and is busy developing it through partnerships with engineering firms like Paramounte Engineering. Any engineering firm in the region would without a doubt bid and work on Trask-family projects; they might even seek new, creative ways to get a leg up on their competitors.
- Did GOP leadership force Rep. Millis to retire from office after securing the earmark to minimize any potential blow back?
Millis retired from public office mere months after the earmark without much explanation. From the looks of it, GOP leaders forced out Millis after they gave a six-figure parting gift to a GOP donor’s family whom he and his engineering firm were currently working for (and assuredly hoped to work for in the future) to minimize the blowback on their caucus.
“NC GOP gave a six-figure parting gift to a donor’s family Rep. Millis was currently working for – and then forced Millis to resign to lessen the blow back on their caucus,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said. “Republicans in Raleigh continue to show that they put their donors before the people of North Carolina — and this corrupt stunt might just be the worst example of it yet.”