Time for Civitas/AFP to take down their dishonest ad

As Chris Fitzsimon demonstrates again in this morning’s “Monday Numbers,” the latest big money ad campaign from the Pope/Koch empire is blatantly and demonstrably dishonest.

It’s also a remarkable display of cowardice. Here’s why: 

It’s one thing to have a difference of opinion and belief over public education (as in the Pope/Koch people don’t believe in it and progressives think it’s the key to a free, middle class society). Though I disagree with the right wing on this issue, I respect  their right to be against public education and to promote their alternative vision. Let’s have that debate.

But it’s quite another to work to undermine public education and then dishonestly claim that you helped it (and intended to do so!).  That’s what’s so disingenuous and galling about the latest ad buy by the AFP/Civitas people. They don’t have the guts to own up to what they’re really about and what they’ve really done because they know the public disagrees with them. So they’re spending a half-million dollars of corporate money to cover their tracks and mask the real impact of what they’ve inflicted on our state.   

It’s a testament to the ends-justify-the-means values these people embrace that they don’t feel shamed to take the ad down and issue an apology.


  1. Frank Burns

    March 19, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Where is the basis in making the leap that the right is against public education? I’ve never seen that. I do know that conservatives advocate additional options to public education but never supports the elimination of public education, if that is what you are implying. Your article is blatantly and demonstrably dishonest

  2. Rob Schofield

    March 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Well, for one thing, Frank,the Speaker of the House recently stated publicly that his Majority Leader –the main spokesperson for the right in the NC General Assembly — wanted to do abolish all public schools.

    Then there are the innumerable articles and blog posts on the various Pope group websites (and those of allied national organizations) in which the authors extol the supposed virtues of privatizing public education at all levels.

    Sadly, your comment is indicative of the common lack of understanding that many conservatives seem to hold about the groups that are leading the ideological charge on the far right. Like many others, it appears that even you are not aware of the ideology that underlies so much of modern right-wing activism.

    Having said all of this, I am happy to hear you confirm the fact that I was trying to highlight in the post — namely that the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians of all politcal views DO NOT want to abandon public education. This is a good thing.

    Now, if we can just get the enormously well-funded and powerful far right groups that are driving the state’s policy agenda to agree with us, we might make some progress.

    Glad you and I are on the same side on this one..

  3. Frank Burns

    March 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Rob, I’m sure you are more familiar with the various Pope Group websites than I am, but in looking at recent news articles on the speaker of the NC House, Thom Tillis, I could not find any references that he supports abolishing public schools. I think you are operating from some bad information. I’ve seen that Tillis is interested in public school reform not abolishing them.

    From http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20120220/News/302209981 “The speaker said his idea of education reform is to let school systems have more flexibility with how they spend their money to meet the needs of their particular demographic.

    Tillis said he believes a lot of money is wasted internally in individual school systems because of controls that come from the state level.”

    “It’s not about me telling you how to supervise your system,” he said. “It’s about letting you decide how to use the resources you have best .”

  4. gregflynn

    March 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Skip Stam is the Majority Leader who wants to get rid of traditional public schools.

  5. Rob Schofield

    March 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks Greg. I should have spelled it out more clearly and simply.

  6. Dallas Woodhouse

    March 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    AFP-NC to Gov Perdue: Look in the Mirror to See Who’s Distorting the Truth

    Raleigh, NC – Americans for Prosperity Foundation – North Carolina (AFPF-NC) and the John William Pope Civitas Institute, the partners behind NC Real Solutions, today responded to Governor Beverly Perdue’s criticisms of their new television ad.

    Even NC Policy watch has said that these claims are true on the facts


    “Americans for Prosperity Foundation – North Carolina fully stands behind our ad. It is 100 percent accurate and truthful,” said Dallas Woodhouse, State Director of AFPF-NC. “The NC Real Solutions public education effort is needed due to outrageous comments like those Governor Perdue made today. Her claims that ‘less money is going to education than ever before’ are absurd and insult to North Carolina taxpayers.”

    “Governor Perdue’s statement that our ad ‘distorts the truth and muddies the water’ is comical if you look at her record,” added Francis DeLuca, President of the Civitas Institute. “In 2009 Perdue signed an out of balance state budget that resulted in cutting state funded teacher positions by over 2,700 and raised taxes on North Carolina families. In 2011 she vetoed a balanced state budget that resulted in the adding of over 2,000 state funded teaching positions and cut taxes on hardworking North Carolina families.”

    “The governor and her allies on the left have been talking about the disaster that was coming in public education. The truth about the budget does not fit their “facts” and that is why they are squawking so loudly. The 2011 budget is the start of desperately needed real solutions for our state, but as the ad says, ‘there is still work to be done’.”

  7. Frank Burns

    March 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Yet the Speaker of the House makes no such claim.

  8. Rob Schofield

    March 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Wow, DW! A truly impressive trifecta: Lying about another article that calls out previous lies in order to mislead people about some new lies.

  9. Rob Schofield

    March 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Oh and Frank: wake up. He did it on video, — including here.

  10. Frank Burns

    March 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Rob, You need to wake up, in your video, The Speaker clearly stated that he categorically disagreed with the elimination of public schools. It’s ok for you to criticize but you should at least try to be honest about it.

  11. Dallas Woodhouse

    March 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Rob: Your Words

    “While technically true”

    Which means what we say is in fact…true

  12. Rob Schofield

    March 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I love you Dallas. Who else would use the first three words of the following paragraphs as justification for a half-million dollar campaign of lies and ignore the facts made plain in the remaining 166??

    “While technically true – the conservative budget did shift some dollars from other underfunded state programs to this line item – it’s also true that the modest gains in state-funded teachers were more than offset by losses in federally-funded and locally-funded teachers – two cuts that conservatives led the charge to bring about. Indeed, many of the “local” cuts were really the result of “discretionary” cuts mandated by the legislature!

    The end result is that, according to the most recent data,North Carolinahas almost 5,000 fewer K-12 personnel (teachers, principals, teacher assistants, etc…) this year than last. Had conservatives merely left taxes as they were – or even cut them less than they did – all of these cuts could have certainly been avoided.

    By any rational measure, as a result of the conservative budget, things in North Carolina’s already badly-underfunded K-12 system are stretched thinner than they were last year. If you don’t think so, visit any public school system in the state – especially in one of our poorer, more rural areas and ask.”

    Oh and Frank, the point is that it’s a remarkable and absurd fact that the House Majority Leader — the man that most people in Raleigh acknowledge as the unquestioned ideological leader of House Republicans and the chief water carrier for Pope Inc — would harbor such opinions and that (whether he agrees with them or not) Tillis would actually admit this shocking truth in public!! Truly amazing.

  13. Jeff S

    March 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Frank, you’re the only person in this conversation that has used the world “elimination”.

    Being “against” public schools, does not necessarily mean complete removal. Whatever. You seem to take pride in your lack of knowledge. If you really cared about learning something you wouldn’t be on an “opposition” blog asking to be spoon fed.


    Hey Dallas, will there be more or fewer teaching positions in 2012 compared to 2011? Mislead your constituency, they seem to like it – but don’t pretend that others don’t know better.

  14. gregflynn

    March 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    If I were to say that “Dallas Woodhouse walks around in his underwear” it would be “technically true” but it would not convey the truth.

  15. Frank Burns

    March 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Rob, Thanks for admission that the Republican Speaker of the House does not support the elimination of public schools. This is the man who holds the power in the NC House, not this other guy. When you start making broad statements about conservatives being against public education, I will be there to correct you. Don’t point out the speck in someone else’s eyes when you have that plank in your own eyes. (Biblical paraphrase)

  16. Frank Burns

    March 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    The term Rob used was abolish. I think that means the same thing as eliminate. No NC conservatives are not, repeat not against public schools. Can I say it any clearer for you?

  17. gregflynn

    March 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Here you go: Skip Stam’s Dream

  18. Rob Schofield

    March 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Frank — I know you’re a long way from Raleigh, but you really ought to come spend some time here at some point; learn how the G.A. really works, who calls the shots, what interest groups are driving the debate, etc… Since you’ve decided to become a full-time blogger, I think it would help.

    The word Tillis used in describing the House Majority Leader (who was here long before Tillis and will undoubtedly be here long after him) was “eliminate” — which seems about the same as “abolish.”

  19. Frank Burns

    March 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Rob, I have no interest in becoming a full time blogger and I don’t have time to run around Raleigh and the GA, I’m just a private citizen living in Mint Hill, NC who is interested in giving my viewpoints on occasion. Obviously I don’t know all of your code words but when you say the right wing is against public education, it seems like your pointing your finger at conservative people like me too.

  20. Rob Schofield

    March 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Look Frank, I’m really glad you support public education. I really believe you and I are together on this (along with most of our fellow North Carolinians).

    Unfortunately for me, I spend a lot of my time reading, watching and listening to VERY conservative people in VERY conservative “think tanks” and radio shows who hold a lot of sway in the halls of power here in Raleigh. I sure wish that wasn’t a part of my job, but it is.

    And I’m telling you, that it’s simply impossible to read, watch, listen to this stuff every day and not come out convinced that these people have given up on public schools. They don’t like them, don’t trust them and want to do away with them.

    I, on the other hand, see our schools as flawed but badly in need of rescue. I listen every day to the stories told by my spouse who works herself to death for some badly troubled special ed kids in a public high school. Heck, I’ve washed many of her students’ clothes myself because it was the only way they could have a shot at wearing something clean to work at the jobs my wife helped find them.

    And that’s in one of North Carolina’s best and best-funded school systems! The simple and hard truth is that we will not make such a system better by cutting its funding or demanding even more of the people working in it (many of whom are already making themselves sick) so that they can “compete” in the “market.” No, the only hope we have lies in renewing and rebulding our funding commitment to these schools (which is back near an all-time low).

    And when one of the most powerful people in state politics wants to “eliminate” public schools, I’m telling you it is incredibly destructive and debilitating. It harms the morale of the schools and it clearly influences the decisions of legislative budgetmakers to cut appropriations.

    And to bring this conversation full circle, you can’t harbor those kinds of views and take the steps the GOP legislature took toward public schools and then go out and dishonestly brag that you helped those schools.

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