Uncategorized

Policy Watch announces some exciting news

N.C. Policy Watch is excited to make a rather surprising announcement this morning. After brief set of whirlwind discussions and negotiations, North Carolina conservative icon and philanthropist J. Arthur Pope of Raleigh has announced that he is severing ties with the conservative political movement and shifting his allegiances and financial support to the progressive side of the political spectrum.

In a hastily convened news conference at the Policy Watch offices, Pope stated that he “simply could no longer stand by and allow his family name to be used to support causes in which I no longer believe.”

Policy Watch Director Chris Fitzsimon called the move “incredibly courageous” and said that while progressive North Carolinians would likely be “a little shocked” by the development, he was confident that they would also “welcome Art with open arms.’

Pope announced that he is withdrawing all future financial commitments to the John Locke Foundation, Pope-Civitas Institute (to be renamed the Koch-Civitas Institute), Americans for Prosperity and all other conservative advocacy groups to which Pope family money has long flowed. The Pope Center for Higher Education will retain its name but will immediately shift staff and mission and is expected to affiliate with another former fierce Pope critic, the N.C. Association Educators.

Starting today, Pope will also join the Advisory Board of N.C. Policy Watch – a group with whom many of Pope’s former grant recipients have long clashed. Mr. Pope also announced that his family foundation will be making a gift of $1 million to Policy Watch’s parent organization, the N.C. Justice Center. The money will be used for general operations and to establish a new, endowed staff position of Community Consumer Advocate.

The mission of this new position will be to help spur each of the 440 stores owned by Pope’s family business (Variety Wholesalers) to reform its ways when it comes to the treatment of employees and interactions with the public. The objective, said Pope, is to help each of the Variety Wholesalers stores to transform themselves from lower-end strip mall retailers that principally target working class people with cheap, imported products into worker and consumer-directed coops.

“‘Buy local, sell local’ is my new mantra,” said Pope.

When asked to explain what could have precipitated such a remarkable and radical turnaround for a man who once served as a Republican lawmaker and statewide candidate and whose former conservative allies are seemingly enjoying greater political influence than ever before, Pope said there “no one thing” was responsible for the turnaround.

“It was a lot of little things,” said Pope,” the force of Reverend Barber’s [head of the North Carolina NAACP] speech at HK on J, the cumulative effect Chris Fitzsimon’s comments on NC Spin, Jim Protzman giving me hell day after day on Blue NC. Over the years, they’ve just worn me down. I see now that the notion that we can move our state and nation ahead while adhering to a 1950’s vision of government and public structures was simply misguided.”

To complete the remarkable about-face involved in Pope’s announcement, it was also announced this morning that Dallas Woodhouse, long-time head of the North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity would be following Pope into the progressive advocacy community. Woodhouse will be spearheading a new Policy Watch-affiliated venture that will work to combat bigotry on social issues to be known as Americans for Diversity.

6 Comments


  1. Kay H.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for reminding me to turn my calendar.

  2. Steve Harrison

    April 1, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Heh. I’d be more than a little shocked. I’d probably be halfway to Butner riding in the back of a deputy’s car before the catatonia wore off.

  3. Al H.

    April 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    You had me for the first couple of paragraphs!

  4. Rob Schofield

    April 1, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Oh well. I can dream can’t I?

  5. Frances

    April 1, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Oh, Lord, I thought I was going to have to boycott some stores! But now the NCAE can do it.

  6. PAW

    April 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Good one. April Fool!!!

Check Also

His words, not ours: Lt. Gov. Forest says he’s offering “reactionary commentary”

Since winning reelection last November, North Carolina Lt. ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

The House unveiled pieces of its budget Thursday morning at various appropriation committee meetings [...]

A key House committee signed off on the chamber’s public school budget report Thursday, despite Demo [...]

Harold Brubaker, the former Republican House Speaker turned powerful lobbyist, tried to ram through [...]

A bill to limit local regulation of small cell towers is moving to a full House vote, despite concer [...]

The most shameful thing about the disastrous budget passed by the Senate two weeks ago is not the vi [...]

Court setbacks, public opinion, progressive activism and Trump bode ill for NC conservatives Profess [...]

So, the question as always comes down to one of vision. The elected chieftains who decide how much m [...]

2.8 billion---amount in dollars of needs in communities across the state for rebuilding efforts from [...]

Featured | Special Projects

Trump + North Carolina
In dozens of vitally important areas, policy decisions of the Trump administration are dramatically affecting and altering the lives of North Carolinians. This growing collection of stories summarizes and critiques many of the most important decisions and their impacts.
Read more


HB2 - The continuing controversy
Policy Watch’s comprehensive coverage of North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law.
Read more