OCTOBER 2010 - PRESENT | Who is Art Pope? Facing South's investigative series looks at North Carolina's most influential benefactor for Republicans and conservative groups -- and his growing national power.
A group of Raleigh, N.C. students is launching a picket of Maxway, one of the retail stores owned by Republican donor Art Pope. The grassroots group aims to bring attention to what they call Pope's "poisonous agenda," including attacks on public schools.
In an interview on Raleigh's WRAL TV, Art Pope responded to a question about the role of outside money in North Carolina's 2010 state legislative elections -- including his groups, which spent more than $2 million in state legislative races -- with the false claim that "the Democrats and the liberals outspent the Republicans and the conservatives." But even a group where Pope is a board member agrees that 90% of outside spending in 2010 came from groups like Pope's that supported the GOP.
In 2010, Art Pope's company gave money to the national Republican State Leadership Committee, whose REDMAP project aimed to win over state legislatures in time for redistricting. As Ari Berman shows in a new piece in The Nation, this has led to new political maps that resegregate politics while consolidating GOP power.
An editorial writer for the Raleigh News & Observer handed Art Pope a bevy of compliments for his “humanitarian” philanthropy, extolling the list of “charities and universities the Pope Foundation blessed with $1.2 million in grants last year.” The writer, Burgetta Wheeler, managed this sweet story by cherry picking from the list of foundation recipients and committing the “one dimensional” journalism she ascribes to Pope’s detractors.
This week, the Pope-Civitas Institute is lauding Alabama’s anti-immigrant hate law (the one that led to the detention of Mercedes-Benz exec) and attempting to argue (albeit unsuccessfully) that it is somehow responsible for a miracle turnaround in state employment statistics in the Heart of Dixie. In support of the claim, Pope-Civitas cites the anti-immigrant, hate group FAIR.
The same week that a campaign launched to defeat an anti-gay marriage amendment in North Carolina, conservative benefactor Art Pope is slinking away from evidence that his family foundation has been a key funder of the groups pushing the constitutional change -- including a North Carolina religious right group criticized last December for using violent imagery to promote the amendment.
Chris Kromm of Facing South ventured into the belly of the beast last Sunday, debating in person with Art Pope at a radio station in Raleigh. It was awesome. The show revealed a culture of privilege that runs deeper than I thought here in North Carolina.
The moment has arrived: I'll be facing off against Art Pope on Sunday, Jan. 15th at 3pm for a 2-hour radio special on 106.1 FM Raleigh. The show is hosted by Phyllis Coley and Gary Jones of Spectacular Magazine.
North Carolina lawmakers have racked up the lowest conservation scores ever in a newly released report card - and those supported by the conservative benefactor and his family members scored far below the record low average.