Overlap between Pope groups and state government continues to grow

1-7-13-NCPW-CARTOONIt remains one of the great (and perplexing) hoodwink jobs of modern North Carolina politics: Despite story after story (many at the national level) documenting the ever-tightening web of connections between the policy and political groups funded by State Budget Director and conservative financier Art Pope and the government itself, Pope’s groups like the John Locke Foundation and the Pope-Civitas Institute continue to be referred to by numerous state news outlets simply as “conservative” groups or, on some occasions, with no ideological characterization at all. In many instances, this has even occurred when the groups are offering commentary on the budget policies developed by Pope himself!

Hopefully, at some point in the near future, the reality of the situation will simply become so blatant that the mainstream news media will have to wake up and start reporting the connections as a matter of course. Here are two more recent developments that ought to spur such a result:

#1 -This week, State Supreme Court Justice candidate Bob Hunter (a conservative Court of Appeals judge from Morehead City) sent out a fundraiser invitation for an April 10 shindig at Raleigh’s exclusive Carolina Country Club that is actually signed by Pope himself. This is from the letter:

“My friend Ben Ginsburg is coming to Raleigh on April 10th at 6 PM that evening. We are hosting a reception at the Carolina Country Club.  Ben is a conservative Republican and nationally recognized election law lawyer.  Ben has been legal counsel to the G.W. Bush and Romney campaigns as well as the Republican National Committee.  He will speak on the upcoming election and the prospects for 2016 for the nation, as well as here in North Carolina.

Ben is also sponsoring this event, and I will also be making the maximum contribution to Judge Hunter’s campaign. I hope you will join me in that effort.

Contribution tiers for the event (be held at the Carolina Country Club) are :

Host $2000
Co-host $1000
Sponsor $500
Attend $ 150

…[Signed] Art Pope

Item #2 is also a fundraiser — this one for the Locke Foundation. Next week, the group will have its 24th anniversary fundraiser. The event, which will feature Fox News talking head Chris Wallace, is sponsored by a bevy of corporate heavyweights  with lots of business before state government — including the “title sponsor,” tobacco giant Reynolds American.

Perhaps more interesting amongst the list of sponsors, however, is the “partner sponsor” — a corporation known as New Breed Logistics. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should; it’s the corporation headed by Louis DeJoy — husband of state DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. It’s also the company that allowed one of its execs (a guy named Joe Hauck) to join Wos’ team at DHHS under an expensive and controversial personal services contract.

Both of these new developments come on top of last week’s  report by Chris Fitzsimon that a new review of the state budget itself will be headed up by Pope and one of his staffers in the budget office — former Locke Foundation staffer, Joe Coletti.

The bottom line: The notion advanced by many concerned folks that Pope has effectively “bought” North Carolina’s state government in recent years may be a bit of an understatement. A more accurate characterization might be that he has simply merged it into his own private political/corporate empire.

Stay tuned. There is undoubtedly more news to come on this front.


  1. LayintheSmakDown

    February 14, 2014 at 8:18 am

    This is certainly a good thing. It is about time some organization can try to rival the regressive focused ones such as Z. Smith Reynolds, Jim Goodmon, and the various major newspapers and television outlets. When you think of it, the Pope organizations are just a drop in the bucket compared to the innumerable regressive non-profits out there.

    Oh, and I have a small violin playing my heart bleeds for you when it comes to identifying an organization’s leanings. Liberal or regressive organizations are almost never identified as such in the MSM. That is just one of the reasons people are quitting watching them and shifting to outlets like fox news.

  2. Alan

    February 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

    LSD, you’re increasingly sounding like a paid spokesperson for Papa Smurf himself. You’re playing the “librul media” card too often. One problem with the extreme right in this country is their total paranoia, “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mindset. So, the most ridiculed “news” outlet of Fox News is now the only trustworthy source of information? Wow. The (mis)information bubble must be getting smaller! Any outlet, no matter who/where it is, that dares to criticize the GOP, is automatically labeled “librul” and added to the GOP enemy list.

    “This is certainly a good thing”???? Having a private, non-elected entity take over state government. Wow…, the Stasi would be proud of you.

  3. LayintheSmakDown

    February 14, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Dang Alan/ML, are you just paid to target my comments. Viewing the past few weeks you never post until you see me….are you stalking me? And I stand by my comment, your inane .02 cents not withstanding.

  4. Alan

    February 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

    LSD, I only target the crazy talk, which in your case is just about every single thing you post. And I must correct you, I do post even in the absence of your input. Now, please excuse me, I need to go soak up some of that librul lame-stream media.

    “Inane” must have been added to the Civitas word-of-the-week list?

  5. ML

    February 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called “Dark Tetrad”: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).

    It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What’s more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the Internet.

    Overall, the authors found that the relationship between sadism and trolling was the strongest, and that indeed, sadists appear to troll because they find it pleasurable. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others.”


  6. LayintheSmakDown

    February 16, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Wow…one guy commenting twice after me. The pulse is not gonna be able to pay all this overtime to their troll squad!

  7. Dubious

    February 18, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    You are asking for it Layinthesmakdown, with your outrageous comments. Pick up a book, educate yourself as you sound pretty uninformed. There is nothing “drop in the bucket” about Pope controlling the state through “non-profits”. Read the New Yorker article on Pope: “State for Sale” and a similar one re: The Koch brothers. You just don’t get it.

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