Press Releases

Memo: Thom Tillis’ Top Vulnerabilities

To: Interested Parties
From: Sadie Weiner, Hagan Campaign Communications Director
Date: May 6, 2014
Re: Thom Tillis’ Top Vulnerabilities
With the North Carolina GOP Senate primary drawing to a close, it appears State House Speaker Thom Tillis’ special interest allies are dragging him across the finish line in Tuesday night’s primary. Tillis, already the DC insider, is touting himself as a future NRSC chair, which is a prime example of the transparent abandonment of North Carolina that makes him unelectable in November.
Over the next 6 months, Tillis will be forced to defend his divisive and offensive remarks, his abysmal, anti-middle class record in Raleigh, his newest slew of fringe positions, and his heavy load of ethical baggage. 

Pattern Of Divisive Statements Are A Liability 
Tillis has repeatedly made divisive and offensive comments about North Carolinians, revealing a cynical, out-of-touch disposition that he will have to answer for. National Republicans, who may not realize how out of touch Tillis is, should be nervous about his history of Akin-like “47%” comments, which are a major liability.  

  • Teachers Don’t Care About Kids – He gutted education and froze teacher pay, and even once suggested that teachers “don’t care about kids. They don’t care about classrooms. They only care about their jobs and their pensions.”
  • Whining Losers – In attempt to defend his destructive agenda in the face of the throngs of teachers, parents, students, seniors, women, minorities and middle-class families who turned out to protest it, Tillis brushed off their concerns just as quickly as he did during session. Tillis said “what I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers.”
  • Divide and Conquer – Tillis was caught on tape in Asheville hashing out his desire to “divide and conquer the people who are on assistance” suggesting that we ought to get certain people “to look down at” unwed mothers who “choose” to be dependent on government. He continued on the topic of single mothers by explaining that “we may end up taking care of those babies, but we are not going to take care of you.”

Tillis’ Record Is Out Of Sync With NC Values
During his time as Speaker, Thom Tillis has racked up an impressive record of putting the special interests first at the expense of North Carolina’s middle class. Tillis promises to run on his “record,” but from now until November, he will be on the stand, forced to defend what the Charlotte Observer called a “damaging agenda” and a “tarnished legacy.” Among the items he will have to defend:

  • Cutting public education by nearly $500 million (perhaps his top and most immediate liability)
  • Handing out tax cuts to the wealthy instead of funding pay raises for NC teachers, who rank 46th in the nation in pay (that tax plan caused a $445 million shortfall that Tillis will have to plug in the session that begins May 14)
  • Killing an equal pay bill to help end gender discrimination in pay
  • Defunding Planned Parenthood and ramming through a bill aimed at closing women’s health clinics under the guise of a motorcycle safety bill
  • Passing a voter access bill that was called the most restrictive in the nation
  • Gutting unemployment insurance for 170,000 North Carolinians
  • Rejecting health care for 500,000 North Carolinians

Even More Unelectable Positions
On top of his indefensible and destructive record in Raleigh, Tillis hobbles out of this primary with an additional slew of positions that make him even more unelectable. Among them:

  • Opposing the federal minimum wage, and even calling an increase that would benefit one million North Carolinians “dangerous”
  • Advocating for the elimination of the Department of Education
  • Admitting he believes states have the authority to ban birth control and supporting a so-called Personhood Amendment that could make some forms of birth control illegal
  • Disagreeing with 97% of scientists in asserting that climate change is not a fact

Heavy Ethical Baggage
Thom Tillis carries an incredibly heavy load of ethical baggage that is not only impossible to defend, but he has been caught lying as he tried to rewrite history on the scandals.
You Pay, Tillis Plays 
Last year, emails from Tillis uncovered his work to sell seats on the UNC Board of Governors to political donors, who then rewarded him by donating to his Super PAC. The Raleigh News and Observer reported:

When his fellow Republicans questioned why House Speaker Thom Tillis backed a Democrat to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in March, the speaker had a simple reason:

R. Doyle Parrish had raised a lot of money.

“I would estimate he is directly responsible for more than $100,000.00 in financial support through personal contributions to my campaign committee and other candidates and through the Hospitality Alliance,” Tillis wrote in a March 21 email to House leaders.

Tillis also strongly supported G.A. Sywassink for the board…Sywassink, owner of a Charlotte freight company, had given $7,500 to Tillis’ campaign for the state House. In June, Sywassink gave $25,000 and Parrish gave $20,000 to the super PAC supporting Tillis’ bid for the U.S. Senate next year.

Also last year, Tillis was caught raking in cash from predatory lenders less than a week after he ushered though a bill to raise lending caps for predatory loans and raise profits for the lenders who offer them. The Associated Press reported:

The man who helped direct a $1.8 million political and lobbying effort for consumer finance lenders is co-hosting a fundraiser for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis’ fledgling U.S. Senate campaign, less than a week after a bill hiking profits for the industry became state law…

With the speaker’s support, the industry’s bill sailed through the legislature…

The fundraiser’s host laid it out clear as day, explaining, “Did [Tillis] help us? Yes. So I support him.”
Caught Lying About Scandal
In 2012, two top Tillis staffers were forced to resign after they were found having extramarital affairs with lobbyists. One of the staffers was Tillis’ chief of staff and shared an apartment with Tillis, but Tillis denied any knowledge of the affair.
Tillis allowed the staffers to resign and, despite the cause of their resignation, Tillis rewarded them with generous taxpayer-funded severance packages worth almost $20,000. At the time, Tillis defended the payments saying it was important to consider the “human side” and the “difficult transition period” for the disgraced staff.
Fast forward to 2014 and Tillis is attempting to rewrite history, saying he “fired” the staffers in an ad. But despite trying to lie about his scandal-plagued staff, Tillis was called out by PolitiFactFactCheck.Org, the Washington Post Fact Checker, the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Charlotte Observer.
Over the next 6 months, as general election voters tune it to learn more about Thom Tillis what exactly will they find? A long record of offensive and disturbing comments, an agenda that devastated the middle class, a laundry list of out-of-touch positions, and a history of scandal and pay-to-play.