Conservative thinktank wants emails of outspoken UNC law professor

The Civitas Institute, a Raleigh-based conservative group, has filed a public records request for emails and correspondence of Gene Nichol, a tenured University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill law professor who has been critical of McCrory Administration policies.

Gene Nichol

Gene Nichol

The public records request for Nichol’s emails was reported Thursday afternoon by Sue Sturgis of the Institute for Southern Studies, a group which has closely tracked spending by Art Pope, a wealthy Republican donor serving as McCrory’s budget director. Civitas is funded almost entirely by a family foundation run by Pope.

From Sturgis’ post:

The Raleigh, N.C.-based Civitas Institute wants the email correspondence, phone records, and calendars of Gene Nichol, director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity and a Moral Monday protest participant. It seeks Nichols’ records during the period from Sept. 14 through Oct. 25, the day the request was filed. Civitas submitted the FOIA request the week after Nichol wrote a newspaper column critical of the McCrory administration.

FOIA laws were designed to ensure government information is available to the public. But in recent years, requests from conservative groups for the records of academics in Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and Michigan have raised questions whether FOIA is being used for politically motivated harassment.

“For a crowd that talks so much about liberty, they sure love to shut people up,” Nichol told Facing South.

Civitas, which was also behind the controversial database of Moral Monday arrestees, filed the information request 11 days after Nichol published a column in The News & Observer of Raleigh in which he called North Carolina’s new election law imposing strict photo voter ID requirements and other limits on voting the “most oppressive in the nation” and likened Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to “a 21st century successor to Maddox, Wallace and Faubus,” referring to the segregationist governors of Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas.

To read more, click here.

Nichol is also a board member of the N.C. Justice Center, an anti-poverty non-profit that N.C. Policy Watch is a part of.


  1. Jack

    November 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Freedom loving GOP. Yeah, right.

    The dems may not have control of state government as their used to having but at least they could speak out publicly against such efforts to chill the public conversation and opinions. Speak out for no other reason than in support of Moral Monday and the people who have given their all for the betterment of NC.

  2. Alan

    November 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    The actions of this administration, and let’s not kid ourselves that Civitas isn’t an integral part of it, would make the former Stasi blush with embarrassment.

    Where are the interns screaming about liberty & tyranny???

  3. Alan

    November 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Is the ghost of Joe McCarthy still working at Civitas?

  4. Cheryl

    November 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Well so much for freedom of speech. It started with our voting rights now they want to take away our right to disagree with their idiotic policies. Seriously people we need to take a stand in 2014 before they take all our rights away.

  5. Frances Jenkins

    November 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    What is the rest of the story about Gene?

  6. Alan

    November 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Frances, what do you mean?

  7. Frances Jenkins

    November 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Here is the clue for Sarah and Alan:

    What other school was Geno employed and why is he not employed at this time?

  8. Alan

    November 22, 2013 at 7:29 am

    I don’t know Frances, please enlighten us, but not with cryptic innuendo.

  9. ML

    November 22, 2013 at 11:14 am

    From civitas- He was fired from William and Mary in 2008 (the trustees declined to renew his contract and he abruptly quit) primarily for two acts that reflected his politics and his disdain for traditions. One was his decision to remove a historic cross from the Wren Chapel, a chapel used for religious services but also for secular events—because he didn’t want to subject secular students to such a sight. The second was his willingness to allow a crude and explicit performance of the Sex Workers’ Art Show (which the Pope Center’s Jay Schalin brought to public attention).

    So he was “fired” from WM but abruptly quit? Those are mutually exclusive actions and can’t be both. All for removing a cross and organizing an art show that was deemed inappropriate by the board of trustees. Sounds to me like he was fed up with the censorship of the Christian board at WM and abruptly quit so he could express his views as well as continue to educate those who will play a major role in our government and society but thanks to civitas the bullying continues. Such a controversy…

  10. Alan

    November 22, 2013 at 12:37 pm


    Thanks for the post, I didn’t expect Civitas or it’s interns to come up with much anyway. I guess removing a cross must be a major felony according to Civitas et al. Welcome to New Mississippi, or as some would call it, North Teabagistan.

  11. Jack

    November 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Frances – What has any of that got to do with Nichol’s spot-on opinions about NC politics?

  12. Amy Freedman

    November 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    And I thought the Republican party was all about government getting out of one’s business? I guess it doesn’t apply to people who object to its politics…Now they want to look at Professor Nichols’ emails, phone records, etc. For what purpose?

    Proud graduate of UNC School of Law–Class of 1992.

  13. GOP Rules

    November 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    So the dude is a public employee, you know of the people of NC, and does not expect that his emails hold virtually no privacy? Does the guy have a top secret clearance rating? If not then it is Katy bar the door, he is just fortunate he is allowed to not disclose “personal” emails. All this issue is about is the Blueprint to “evicerate” and “destroy” conservatives. Besides, the favorite liberal/progressive response to when it is happening to someone of the opposite view is “what does he have to hide”.

  14. GOP Rules

    November 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    One more question for the dude named Alan/ML. Why do you assume every conservative is a Civitas intern? It must be because that is all that is on these progresso sites? I am guessing Alan/ML/Jack/greg…..and all the regular liberal posters are the same person….except esmay, he is definitely an entity to himself. We know for sure that Alan and ML are the same guy, so it must be that this blog only has two dueling readers. One from Civitas, one from the policy watch.

  15. Jack

    November 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    A program by the GOP to chill public conversation and opinion has been at work for years. This is a local issue and therefore we are more aware of it then otherwise.

    The GOP’s sense of politics is so distorted as expressed yesterday by Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate that any hope of easing tension between the Repubs and Dems has been nuked. Any political party that spews venom and hate certainly doesn’t give a damn about the people.

    The GOP is now a party of vindictive hateful men and women who threaten rather than lead because of the pressure they’re under to deliver political promises to their benefactors.

  16. ML

    November 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Nichols has no problem cooperating with the request, he has not protested to it either. He has nothing to hide. He’s not an elected official so there is no scandal or cover up just more bullying tactics to suppress the free speech of outmost educated thinkers across the country.

  17. ML

    November 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    If the civitas trolls had their own talking points as opposed to regurgitating the popes message. If there was any original thought put into your posts we might believe you were not civitas intern trolls. But then again maybe that’s all a simple minded repubs can do is ad hominem attacks with no substance.

    Finally, I had to do the research for the civitas trolls on there own website to find the “controversial” firing/quiting by Nichols. You’re welcome.

    Once again my name is Michael Lovejoy from Raleigh and am a 27 yr old recent graduate from Campbell law. Alan is a different person. Sorry all repubs can do is project their own actions on to others bc they assume everyone is as rotten and conniving as them but alas the world actually has good and thoughtful people who are not all the same as the teabagger sheeps.

  18. Alan

    November 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    ML, well said, again!

    ” We know for sure that Alan and ML are the same guy”. What, like the same way you all “know” the earth is only 6,000 years old? Not to forget that you all “know” your Lord & Savior (Ronald Reagan) ended communism…

  19. LayintheSmakDown

    November 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I actually saw the post where you commented the exact same thing within 2 minutes of each other. You blatantly copied off your clipboard and re-posted it….so yeah we “know” in the way that it is documented on this very site.

    As far as Nichols not protesting. That is great, maybe he understands some things as a public employee that commenters and liberal writers do not. That any emails on the public system as provided by the state are not inherently private. Anyone can go in and make a FOIA request. I am surprised it has not been done more by the liberals to be honest…..actually I am not surprised in that the media typically makes stuff up rather than having documentation if it is a conservative target so…I am not truly surprised.

  20. Alan

    November 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    LSD, you may recall ML posted an explanation a while back on the ease of alternate names being used. Perhaps you have overlooked that? Still two different people.

  21. Alex

    November 25, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Why is Alan always congratulating ML for his posting ?

  22. Alex

    November 25, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I put Nichol and John Edwards in the same category. They both claim to be advocates for the poor, while living good either off the taxpayer or unsuspecting victims.It simply makes them feel better about themselves, or helps them gain a little notoriety. Neither would spend their own money or inconvenience themselves to help a poor person. Nichol was a lousy college president who failed miserably when he had to do a real job.

  23. Alan

    November 25, 2013 at 9:32 am


    You’re getting a little more paranoid with each posting. Glad to see you’re still posting comments that have nothing to do with the article in question. Reflexive response typical of Team Civitas.

  24. Alan

    November 25, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Is it appropriate to use ‘conservative’ and ‘thinktank’ in the same sentence?

Check Also

UNC Board of Governors face protest, chooses new board chair and interim president

It was a busy day at the final ...

State and Federal COVID-19 policy updates

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Error

State and local officials have been forced to improvise in an effort to feed hundreds of thousands o [...]

On any given week prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people went in and out of the Wake Co [...]

Controversial conservative cites family duties, but evidence indicates other board members forced hi [...]

Mysterious cases of rare cancers have baffled North Carolina health officials, but incomplete data, [...]

RSS Error: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/category/articles/originalcommentary/feed is invalid XML, likely due to invalid characters. XML error: Invalid character at line 68, column 35