by John Grooms
The New Yorker has caught on to what political observers in North Carolina have been gradually waking up to: the power and influence of Art Pope. In a 10-page story by renowned author Jane Mayer, titled “ State for Sale: A conservative multimillionaire has taken control in North Carolina, one of 2012’s top battlegrounds.” It’s online now, and the physical issue comes out this week.
We’ve written before about Art Pope, the “power behind the throne” of North Carolina’s Republican party. Pope has given the state GOP so much money, they named their Raleigh office building after him. He owns Variety Wholesalers Inc., a company that operates several discount retail chains, and he bankrolls a number of conservative research and advocacy groups, including the John Locke Foundation, the Civitas Institute, Capitol Monitor, the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, and the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy — groups over which he essentially holds financial and organizational control.
Last year, Pope extended his influence into the general election, his financial reach put to effective use in electing Republicans to the legislature. Three groups with strong links to Pope — Civitas Action, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Real Jobs NC — led the aggressive effort. Pope, by the way, is one of the AFP’s directors, and Pat McCrory has attached himself to the group like a barnacle. Real Jobs NC gained a notorious reputation by airing inaccurate attack ads. Together, the three groups targeted 21 state races that were top priorities for the GOP. It all paid off, as Republicans won 18 of the 21 contests.
The New Yorker story is a perfect introduction for any reader who wants to know more about how power is bought, sold, and used in Raleigh. Here’s an interesting excerpt from that story:
Even some North Carolinians associated with Jesse Helms think that Pope has gone too far. Jim Goodmon, the president and C.E.O. of Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns the CBS and Fox television affiliates in Raleigh, says, “I was a Republican, but I’m embarrassed to be one in North Carolina because of Art Pope.”
Here's a cool "text-to-movie" from the virtual Art Pope, celebrating his New Yorker story.