“If people knew the story behind who is pushing what is called Marsy’s Law, they would be shocked,” says state representative Marcia Morey, a leader of the Nix All Six effort. “All of it is a bit dubious.”
The person pushing it, California billionaire Henry Nicholas III, has spent more than a decade advocating for victims. Twice, however, he’s found himself on the other side of the law—as a defendant facing felony charges. This summer, he was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with drug trafficking after police allegedly discovered heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy in his hotel room. And a decade ago, he was indicted on charges of manipulating stock-option grants to enrich his company’s employees, trafficking narcotics, and installing “a secret and convenient lair” in his Laguna Hills home to bring sex workers. (In 2009, a federal judge, ruling that prosecutors had intimidated witnesses, threw out the stock-related charges; prosecutors later dropped the drug charges.)
Nicholas has spent more than $27 million advocating for Marsy’s Law nationwide. In fact, according to the website Ballotpedia, he’s contributed at least 90 percent of the effort’s total funding. Nicholas has pledged to spend $5 million in North Carolina. The campaign-finance-tracking website OpenSecrets shows that Marsy’s Law for North Carolina has spent more than $235,000 on television ads on just two stations: WCTI-TV in New Bern and WXII in Winston-Salem. The Associated Press reported that the campaign spent another $150,000 on radio ads.
And that could be just the tip of the iceberg.
“I’m afraid a lot of this is about money, political donations going into legislators to get this passed, dog-whistle ads that are on TV,” Morey says. “We can do anything to strengthen rights to victims throughout statutes tomorrow. If this was such a critically important issue, why hasn’t our legislature had more legislation in statues about victims’ rights notification?”
Contact staff writer Leigh Tauss by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 919-832-8774, or on Twitter @LeighTauss.