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Why is this man helping to decide the future of UNC?

With the recent advent of the new  UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions, there’s been a lot of controversy about the group’s inclusion of two right-wing millionaire businessmen: chain store magnate Art Pope of Raleigh and pharmaceuticals industry mogul, Fred Eshelman of Wilmington. Chris Fitzsimon has been reporting and commenting on this story frequently.

Interestingly, some observers — especially in the Wilmington area —  have expressed the opinion that while they support the criticisms of Pope, they disagree with attacks on Eshelman. In this narrative, Eshelman is conservative, but a good guy and BIG supporter of UNC who’s getting a bum rap by being  grouped with Pope. Eshelman, himself, has complained that his politics are not relevant to his involvement in the new committee.

A new story posted today by WRAL’s Mark Binker helps make clear, however, why that argument doesn’t wash. The story concerns one of Eshelman’s major pet projects – a political attack group called Real Jobs NC. Today, Real Jobs launched a new round of attack ads against a group of state legislative candidates that is right out of the far right, Karl Rove/Lee Atwater playbook.

But, of course, this isn’t Eshelman’s only right-wing political attack group; he’s also given hundreds of thousands of dollars to a sleazy and mostly secret attack machine called RightChange.com. This group had produced scores of insulting, below-the-belt and at times downright hateful attacks on the President of the United States and includes links on its website to extremist and notorious scandal sheet World Net Daily as well as several other far right groups and blogs.      

The bottom line: You can’t have it both ways, Fred. If you want to play down-in-the-dirt political hardball with one pot of money, you can’t claim that the money you give to UNC renders you as pure as the driven snow — especially when so many of the elected officials you’ve helped elect are doing everything in their power to slash funding for UNC, undermine its future and put an end to real, publicly-funded higher education.

 

3 Comments

  1. Hilarious

    October 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Got it: Only liberal and Democratic donors are appropriate to serve on the help with the UNC selection process. With all the goodwill your fair-minded, balanced journalism has buillt up, I’m sure the General Assembly will get straight to work ensuring that only the left has any say in the way our state’s flagship university is run.

  2. JeffS

    October 8, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    His politics, and his willingness to spend for them, is the only reason he was chosen for the position. I cannot comprehend how they would not be relevant.

  3. gregflynn

    October 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    And it’s just a huge coincidence that David Powers, VP of state government relations at RAI Services which gave $150,000 to Real Jobs was appointed to the UNC Board of Governors.