New Yorker takes note of Art Pope's takeover of North Carolina

According to Taegan Goddard at Political Wire, this is a must read.

Of course, James has been saying all of this for the past six years. The New Yorker dedicated ten pages in the online edition to the piece. I can't wait to see it in print.

Even some North Carolinians associated with Jesse Helms think that Pope has gone too far. Jim Goodmon, the president and C.E.O. of Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns the CBS and Fox television affiliates in Raleigh, says, “I was a Republican, but I’m embarrassed to be one in North Carolina because of Art Pope.”

Goodmon’s grandfather A. J. Fletcher was among Helms’s biggest backers, having launched him as a radio and television commentator. Goodmon describes Pope’s forces as “anti-community,” adding, “The way they’ve come to power is to say that government is bad. Their only answer is to cut taxes.” Goodmon believes that Pope’s agenda is not even good for business, because the education cuts he’s helped bring about will undermine the workforce. “If you want to create good jobs, you need good schools,” he says. “We’re close to the bottom out of the fifty states in education spending, and if they could take it down further they would.” He says of Pope, “It’s never about making things better. It’s all about tearing the other side down.”

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Thank you James

I love you for your dedication. You were right about Pope...I just wish a piece like this had come along before the takeover.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Jane did a great job on this story

We talked for more than an hour. Perhaps none of what I said would have cleared their lawyers.

: )

I knew a lot about Art Pope before reading this, but I had no idea what an elitist he really is.

I was certain you were interviewed

I'm not sure the article would have taken the same path without your input. We both know how that goes, though.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

So it is a blatant error not worthy of a reputable ...

magazine. But on another level ... It is so freakin' HILARIOUS!!!!

EDIT - Nevermind. I initially thought it was Carter Wrenn. What's Pearce on about?

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

I just wish

the rank and file citizens who happen to be Republicans would wake up to this. I'm not saying they should become liberals. However, they should be working within their own party to denounce this brand of Republicanism. There is nothing wrong with a conservative mindset for those who choose it, we are all different and have different beliefs, but this anti-government sentiment is going to destroy this state and country. I know rank and file Republicans who believe in public education, government services and some level of a safety net. They should stand up and fight for their party and diminish these types of influences. We need at least two parties, though I would prefer more. The rank and file are just sticking with their brand, blissfully unaware that the brand is changing and it is not looking out for their best interests. If you don't like your government, work to improve it, not destroy it.

Thank you, James

You never gave up on exposing the Puppet Master.


Top headline on Huffpo this morning!

Hi James, I haven't had the chance to read Jane Mayer's full story yet but was I excited to see it linked as the top story on the Huffington Post this morning with this headline: STATE FOR SALE
How A Conservative Millionaire Funded A Right-Wing Takeover Of Critical 2012 Battleground State

I encourage you to repost links to your "Puppy Master" videos....that was also how I first heard out about Pope's effort to "fund" (buy) the NCCU Law School, via the plan which was withdrawn recently.

Keep up your reporting!!!!!

Binker weighs in

Good observations all around, especially on the general insignificance of Pope in terms of public opinion. In many ways, focusing on Pope is a distraction from focusing on the puppies themselves ... Berger, Tillis, Orr, etc.

And yet, it is part of a big puzzle.

For example, Jim Goodmon's comment that he's embarrassed for the Republican party because of Art Pope is an invaluable sound bite that will get lots of play. Without this article, that comment would not be on the record.

More eyes on Pope and his network

The Institute for Southern Studies JUST launched a new investigative project some BlueNC readers might find interesting, based on our work on Pope over the last year:

The project will track the money, people and agenda driving Pope's network. Would love to hear your feedback and ideas.

- Chris

Great work

Thanks for the heads up.

Did you read Binker's commentary about the New Yorker article? We have to find a way to make association with Art Pope toxic, which is going to be a challenge. Most Republicans I know in North Carolina like the idea of being lap dogs of the Puppymaster.

Hope you'll also follow up on the NCCU Law deal. It's an extraordinary turn of events for Orr to withdraw the offer ... so he must have been quite certain the purchase wasn't going to go through.

Good points

James, I think you're right -- the NCCU drama was a sign that scrutiny of Pope's money and influence is growing, and that it DOES make sense to keep pointing out who's calling the shots. I touch on that in this piece over at

Years of effort to get this on the radar are finally having results.

Thanks, Chris

You folks over at ISS are a huge asset. And not just for progressives, for everybody.

Way to go James!!!

I'm psyched to see your message breaking through, finally! Whether it was your words verbatim or not, it was your message breaking through, and that's awesome.

I am very proud to be a part of an organization that was a part of that article too! (emphasis added below)

For years, Pope, like several other farsighted conservative corporate activists, has been spending millions in an attempt to change the direction of American politics. According to an analysis of tax records by Democracy NC, a progressive government watchdog group, in the past decade Pope, his family, his family foundation, and his business have spent more than forty million dollars in this effort

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The Pope family foundation has provided more than ninety-seven per cent of the Civitas Institute’s funding since it was founded—more than eight million dollars. Pope sits on its board of directors. Civitas underwrites polls on issues of the day—posing questions that critics have called biased—and disseminates its findings in order to support right-wing arguments. These polls save conservative candidates a lot of expense. “Civitas was clever,” Bob Hall, the executive director of Democracy NC, the progressive watchdog group, says. “It takes campaign expenses—like polling, message development, and voter-turnout analysis—and makes them tax-deductible.”

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Bob Hall, the Democracy North Carolina director, sees Pope’s involvement in education as part of a long-term strategy. “It’s about how you shape the future,” Hall says. “It’s one thing to build a building, another to shape a generation’s minds. That’s what they’re after—ideology. Pope is pushing a world view, not just a business deal.” Hall notes that, because the state legislature appoints the university trustees, “Pope’s got trustee influence now, too.” In fact, the General Assembly recently placed Fred Eshelman, the founding director of Real Jobs NC, on the university system’s board of governors. The husband of another Pope functionary, meanwhile, was just appointed to the state’s public-television board.

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I sure hope you popped a bottle of bubbly

... or at least had a nice glass of wine or other favorite beverage. You played a huge part in shining this light on that scurrilous, shadowy rat.

Just had another thought - Combining Pope's past failed attempt at political office seeking and what Pope and his minions are currently doing tearing down North Carolina brought to mind a quote from Milton - Satan says at one point, "It is better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven."

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

John Hood whines

I normally don't link to his ranting, but this one is especially sad and embarassing:

Still, as hit pieces go, the New Yorker story turned out to be a bit of a dud. It was mostly a rehash of attacks previously lodged against Art and the conservative movement in North Carolina by a gaggle of left-wing activists funded and controlled by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

I'm sure you would prefer there was some sort of "statute of limitations" on reporting bad political behavior, but there's not. That said, if Art Pope had backed off from his influence-buying practices, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation right now. But like any spoiled brat who does what he wants, the behavior has only gotten worse.

And just to say it, your (and Pope's) biggest and most effective critic isn't funded or controlled by Z. Smith or any other institution; he's only controlled by his own sense of right and wrong, and his name is James.