Monday, October 3, 2011

The Dope on Art Pope: “It’s never about making things better. It’s all about tearing the other side down.”

Out-of-towners may want to ignore this political post.

For the Tar Heel residents in the crowd, please see this enlightening New Yorker article, State for Sale, about Raleigh Republican Art Pope and the negative influence he and the various groups he funds are having on North Carolina politics. From the New Yorker article:
Of the forty million dollars that his network has spent in the past decade, thirty-five million has gone to half a dozen ostensibly nonpartisan policy groups, which he has been instrumental in creating and directing. Pope claims that these organizations are independent of his control, but, on average, the Pope family foundation supplies them with more than eighty-five per cent of their funds. Though these groups are officially defined as philanthropic, almost all parts of the Pope enterprise push the same aggressively pro-business, anti-government message.
The groups include the John Locke Foundation, the Civitas Institute, Americans for Prosperity North Carolina. When you see those groups quoted in the press, be aware that Pope is behind the message. 

Pope's influence reaches all the way down to our local school board. You'll recall the school board controversy made it on to the Colbert Report:

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But back to the New Yorker article. Here's my favorite passage:
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.” Goodmon’s grandfather A. J. Fletcher was among Helms’s biggest backers, having launched him as a radio and television commentator. Goodmon describes Pope’s forces as “anti-community,” adding, “The way they’ve come to power is to say that government is bad. Their only answer is to cut taxes.” Goodmon believes that Pope’s agenda is not even good for business, because the education cuts he’s helped bring about will undermine the workforce. “If you want to create good jobs, you need good schools,” he says. “We’re close to the bottom out of the fifty states in education spending, and if they could take it down further they would.” He says of Pope, “It’s never about making things better. It’s all about tearing the other side down.”
Also on the Art Pope front: a tip of the hat to grads of my law school, NCCU Central, for getting the school to reject a chunk of money from an Art Pope group for a constitutional law center. 

We have important elections coming up next week. Please show up and vote. Here are the Democratic candidates for Wake County. And don't forget to vote YES for the Transportation and Housing bonds.

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