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Given that this is Election Day in many places around the state and nation,  it’s fitting that Raleigh’s News & Observer editorializes this morning against one of the great threats to fair elections in our country — namely, the vast sums of “dark money” being dumped into buying elections at all levels by fat cat special interests like the infamous Koch Brothers.

Athough the latest news stems from developments in California, this is not just a far-off problem for North Carolinians. As the editorial notes:

“The Kochs’ reach extends to North Carolina, where Americans for Prosperity, a group they started, has been orchestrating ads against Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who’s up for re-election in 2014. The campaign is gratuitous and hooked to an obscure issue, the carbon emissions tax, something few people are familiar with. It presents, however, an opportunity to attack a Democrat. Read More

Art Pope 3This is from this morning’s Washington Post:

“The third Koch ‘brother’ hits North Carolina

By

There’s something rotten in the state of North Carolina — and it smells like money. Specifically, Art Pope’s money.

In fact, Pope and his cash are responsible for North Carolina’s recent meteoric rise as the poster child for regressive, conservative politics.

As the head of Variety Wholesalers (a family-run discount store holding company) and the $150 million Pope Family Foundation, he has invested in an array of think tanks and advocacy groups dedicated to aggressively aligning the state’s political terrain with his business interests. Gov. Pat McCrory, whose campaign he bankrolled, recently named Pope to the powerful post of state budget director.

Pope is, for all intents and purposes, North Carolina’s third, lesser known, Koch brother. In fact, he’s attended the Koch Brothers’ planning summits and considers himself their close ally. Read More

The Center for American Progress released its list of million-dollar judges — those whose 2012 election campaigns raked in that amount or more, on their own or with the help of independent spending.  Sharing the spotlight on that list is our own Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby:

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby was re-elected with the help of more than $2.5 million in independent spending. The state’s public financing program—long a model for states seeking to keep money out of judicial races—was overwhelmed by money from interest groups such as the state Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, a group affiliated with the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. North Carolina tobacco companies also chipped in hundreds of thousands of dollars after they benefited from a 2009 ruling, authored by Newby, in a dispute with tobacco farmers.

The largest donation, by far, was the more than $1 million from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that helped the state’s Republican legislature draft its recent redistricting maps. Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit alleging that the map disenfranchises minority voters, and the case is currently before the state supreme court. This money was instrumental in keeping a 4-3 conservative majority on the bench. North Carolina’s ethics rules say a judge should not hear a case if his or her “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” but Justice Newby will hear the redistricting case despite the fact that he was re-elected thanks to millions of dollars from Republican groups that have a stake in the outcome.