Ethical? Lawful? Appointment of political attack organization boss to Ethics Commission board raises questions

(Updated – See comment #1 below)The stories are coming so thick and fast that it’s getting harder and harder to shock caring and thinking North Carolinians with tales of laugh-out-loud malfeasance and the elevation of political operatives to positions of power and influence in North Carolina’s far-right state government.  

Francis De LucaStill, it’s fair to say that a lot of eyebrows had to have been raised in Raleigh yesterday with the appointment by state Senate Leader Phil Berger of Francis De Luca, the head of one of the state’s most aggressive conservative advocacy groups, the Pope-Civitas Institute, to, of all things, the Board of the State Ethics Commission. After all, as director of Pope-Civitas — a group funded almost exclusively by the family foundation of state Budget Director Art Pope — De Luca is paid to be a fire-breathing crusader for a very specific political agenda. What’s more, he also heads a 501(c)(4) political group — Civitas Action — that is dedicated to, among other things, producing slick (and in some cases, downright malicious) attack ads against disfavored political candidates. Click here to see some the group’s handiwork from 2010 and 2011. (To add to the irony of the whole thing, De Luca was appointed to take the place of another former Pope group employee, Les Merritt, who resigned because of a potential conflict of interest posed by his current $312,000 per year job in the McCrory administration).   

In addition to raising eyebrows, the appointment ought to raise legal questions as well. According to the State Government Ethics Act, Section 138A-7 (d)(3), no member of the commission may lawfully:  “Participate in or contribute to the political campaign of any covered person or any candidate for a public office as a covered person over which the Commission would have jurisdiction or authority.”

How De Luca can be responsible for producing hateful campaign attack ads and not thereby be “participating” in the political campaign of covered persons (legislators are “covered persons” under the law) is hard to fathom.

(Finally, it’s perhaps also worth noting in the “political small world” department,  that when I appeared with De Luca in a joint TV appearance two weeks ago, he was accompanied to and departed the studio in the company of former American for Prosperity NC director, Dallas Woodhouse (De Luca was also once the head of AFP-NC). Soon thereafter, Woodhouse was announced as the campaign manager for the congressional campaign of Rockingham County prosecutor Phil Berger, Jr. — the son of Senator Phil Berger (i.e. the guy that just appointed De Luca to the Ethics Commission board).

All in all, the whole thing really smells. Perhaps someone should report it to the State Ethics Commission.

Oh wait, that’s right. Never mind. 

(Photo source: Francis De Luca’s LinkedIn page).



  1. Rob Schofield

    November 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    It should be noted that the news stories announcing this appointment (and a press release issued by the Pope-Civitas Institute) indicate that the formal appointment was made by Gov. McCrory on the recommendation of Senator Berger. The statute itself talks of the General Assembly itself doing the actual appointing. Whoever ultimately claims responsibility in the instant case, the decision remains extremely troubling.

  2. HunterC

    November 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Raises questions?!

    There should be immediate indictments.

    Will no public official speak out against this complete disregard for the law?

  3. Gene Hoglan

    November 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    This is what the idiots who voted these clowns in wanted, and when they’re done destroying the state, they’ll all fly on back to New Jersey or wherever.

  4. Alan

    November 21, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    I can’t stand it….. the cronyism & corruption takes a new turn almost on a daily basis here… It’s time we rid ourselves of these folks. I know of some Republican friends who are horrified at what they voted in, I guess even their votes don’t count, now that we’ve got Civitas pulling all the strings. I just wish I could go to sleep and waken up back in Kansas and it was all just a terrible dream…

  5. Frances Jenkins

    November 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    The Republican Party has endured this corruption for the past 140 years. Jim Hunt does not trust his own party and he is raising his own money.

  6. Alan

    November 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Frances devolves into tin-foil hat territory, yet again….. Keep up the good work Frances, you’re doing the GOP a great job.

    PS. Rather than through out ridiculous comments like “The Republican Party has endured this corruption for the past 140 years”, gives us some facts and data that supports this.

  7. Alan

    November 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    OK, ‘throw out’ rather than ‘through out’….

  8. Frances Jenkins

    November 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Mike Easley
    Mrs. Mike Easley
    Campaign Finance with the Easley Administration
    Jim Black
    Meg Scott
    John Edwards
    This does not even begin to name all the corruption with Democrats.

  9. Alan

    November 22, 2013 at 7:30 am


    A lsit of names, Is that it? Some substance, please….

  10. GOP Rules

    November 22, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Francis with a blow to the heart of the matter +1000!

    Alan/ML – If you have never heard of the cronyism and corruption of those names, it will take much more substance than a comment on a blog can encompass. Maybe if you have some intellectual curiosity you could reasearch on this thing called “Google”, and it will lead you to scads of informatoin on those corrupt democrats that had ruled the roost over the previous 100+ years in NC. Heck, they pretty much invented cronyism as we know it….so pot, meet kettle.

  11. Alan

    November 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    GOP Rules,

    Again, ML and I are separate people, I know you have trouble accepting that. So, your assumption is that because there were corrupt acts (and there were) under previous administrations, that makes it perfectly acceptable now for a GOP administration? Corruption is corruption, and it’s wrong, no matter who’s involved. But now that the GOP is in charge, you have no issue with the blatant corruption? The extent to which this McCrory administration has taken its cronyism & corruption is breathtaking, both in it’s scope and shear disregard for NC residents. Not bad for a guv that campaigned on “ending corruption”, we’re a source of national & international embarrassment. But apparently, that makes some in the GOP proud, a race to the bottom indeed.

    Your simple approach that all things GOP are good, and all things non-GOP are bad, speaks volumes…

  12. GOP Rules

    November 22, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    My assumpiton Alan/ML is that I will regard you as one person as long as you regard me as three or four.

    My other assumption is a posture of smugness as I point out the sudden interest in cronyism and corruption when it suits you. I for one do not agree with it at all, but it has unfortunately been a fact of life at least since the concept of society has been in existence. Your quote of “disregard to NC residents” is truly hilarious. You really think there has been anywhere near the majority of democrats that have much concern other than to enrich themselves and keep themselves elected? And for this particular appointment, I would not call it corruption just cronyism. My view of corruption can be summarized by one man you may (or likely have ignored) have heard of —Jim Black. Just look him up before you call this corruption.

    You too have volumes spoken in that you approach as all things GOP as bad and all non-GOP things are good—-your so called approach is no better than what you purport to be mine, so maybe look in the mirror. I at least come over here to get the story from the other perspective, maybe I stir the pot some, but at least your views are not ignored or thrown to the wayside as invalid.

  13. ML

    November 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    In no way do I condone the corruption of any person but to run on transparency and ant-cronyism only to participate in your own blatant over the top corruption is what bothers me. I will always respect of person with integrity no matter there beliefs but the current administration has none, nor do they have the fortitude to admit they are in the wrong. Instead there only response is that the previous administrations did as well so we are not bound by our campaign promises.

    It’s very telling when the govs own super PAC has already spent 800k in advertisements just to improve his dismal poll numbers.

    Maybe if all the trolls said something besides the tired art pope talking points I might be inclined to believe gop etc are different people with their own.

    Finally, the fact that this is a liberal blog it follows that more of the readers are liberal but when the civitas pope machine trollers pop up on the blog it’s much more suspicious when they post similar talking points. But if you want to think Alan and I are the same person, by all means continue to do so as his posts are informative, substantive, and actually pertinent to the article and whatever false premise is laid out by civitas intern (aka paid trollers like faux news).

  14. Alan

    November 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    GOP Rules,

    FYI. I’m a registered, recovering, moderate conservative. Like many in this country, I loath the extremism of the current Republican Party. It’s devolved into a party of close minded, bigots, racists & homophobes, science deniers & part time civil-war re-enactors.

    So yes, all things with this current Republican Party are indeed bad. The GOP have taken a massive shift to the extreme right, alienating the very moderates & independents they would need to secure an election win, which based on current trajectory, will never happen.

  15. LayintheSmakDown

    November 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    ML…or Alan, you guys seem to be posting the same talking points. Funny how GOP and I get lumped in when we have similar opinions….but many posters here (Alan/ML) say the same and/or similar things too, and then protest about opposing views as being the same thing.

    And the last post by Alan(ML), I am not in favor of extremism either. But when the democrat party has been taken over by the extremist progressive wing it is again hard to take your comment very seriously. If you are so “moderate” you would be able to see that fact, and once again your comment applies just as much to the state of the democrat party as the republican party. The only reason the Republicans get blamed and have an image problem is that the media and polling companies are overwhelmingly in the pocket of the democrats. You have to look outside that isolate bubble that has been presented into the real world, and things are much different.

  16. Alan

    November 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm


    Sorry, but I have to differ with your analysis that “the democrat party has been taken over by the extremist progressive wing”. The only folks that actually believe this are the die-hard uninformed/misinformed Faux News viewers. The dramatic shift to the extreme right the Republican Party has taken in the last ~15 years or so is pretty well documented, the same cannot be said of the Democratic Party, unless of course you simply don’t want to believe it. Remember the neo-cons and the Project For A New American Century? These are the folks who advocated for two major, simultaneous military engagements, and hey-presto, we have Afghanistan & Iraq. (the former being justifiable after 9/11, the latter was not).

    Blaming the (liberal) media constantly for the woes of the GOP is a tried & tested way the GOP have to fire up it’s base, not necessarily anything based in fact.The image problem the GOP have is entirely it’s own fault. When you have a number of certifiable wackos get through the GOP primary process and run for office, its no wonder they draw negative attention, as they certainly don’t represent the majority, only the extreme faction(s) within the GOP.

    The Democratic Party has been pretty much static over the same period when the neo-cons took hold of the GOP and started it’s purge.

    Therefore, I cannot take your comments seriously either.

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