In an interview with Lindsay Beyerstein with the Sidney Hillman Foundation, Jane Mayer -- author of the recent New Yorker profile of Art Pope -- talks about the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, Pope's alliance with the billionaire Koch brothers from Kansas and Pope's personal, often contradictory, political philosophy.
Voters in Wake County, N.C. headed to the polls yesterday in high numbers to reject a slate of conservative Republican Board of Education candidates who opposed a longstanding diversity policy aimed at avoiding high-poverty and racially-isolated schools.
The big win for Democrats and desegregation represents a big loss for conservative benefactor Art Pope, who served as the architect of the 2009 school board election that saw an anti-diversity Republican majority win control of the officially nonpartisan body, and who along with his political network backed yesterday's losing candidates.
Writer Jane Mayer follows up on her widely-circulated profile of Art Pope in The New Yorker with a blog post pointing to a seeming contradiction in Pope's political philosophy. The North Carolina right-wing powerbroker, in line with his anti-government philosophy, is big on preaching self-reliance and castigating others for "dependence."
But when Pope needed help to run for office in 1992, staunch individualism and an Ayn Rand fetish didn't stop him from taking $330,000 worth of campaign loans -- more than $530,000 in today's dollars, never repaid -- so he could run for office. What's more, Pope's network is now trying to abolish a state program that makes running for office more affordable in North Carolina.
North Carolina's most politically powerful unelected individual, Art Pope has spent tens of millions of dollars pushing the state to the right. Where does his money come from, where does it go and what impact is it having? Art Pope Exposed runs the numbers.
The national buzz continues about North Carolina's GOP powerbroker Art Pope, with Jane Mayer's widely-circulated profile leading to high-profile coverage by Rachel Maddow, NPR's "Fresh Air" and other leading magazines.
One question we've been asked: Just how much money did Pope's network spend, and how did they spend it, in the 2010 Republican capture of North Carolina's legislature? Mayer's piece, citing the Institute for Southern Studies, says Pope's network targeted 22 races, of which Republicans won 18. In a local TV interview, Pope insisted that he only backed 19, and his money had nothing to do with the GOP's victories. What's going on here?
Not everyone is happy with the national buzz surrounding North Carolina's Art Pope this week. Take the CATO Institute, for example: David Boaz of the libertarian D.C. think tank has risen to the defense of the North Carolina power broker, claiming "I think Art Pope has a right to use his money to support candidates he favors."
But one would scarcely know from Boaz's missive that Pope also uses his money to generously support the right-wing think tanks he favors -- like the CATO Institute.
Gross focuses on a piece of Mayer's story -- originally featured in an analysis by Facing South, online publication of the Institute for Southern Studies -- that hasn't gotten as much attention: The REDMAP strategy Republicans used in 2010 to funnel special interest money to win state legislatures, putting them in charge of redistricting and other electoral decisions that would strengthen the GOP nationally for years to come.
After working behind the scenes during the pivotal 2009 school board election in Wake County, N.C., the conservative benefactor, Americans for Prosperity director and ally of the Koch brothers is now directly funding candidates opposed to the public school system's nationally-recognized diversity policy.
Maddow started by looking at battleground North Carolina, which went blue by the slimmest of margins in 2008 (President Obama won by just over 14,000 votes). N.C. will again be critical to Democrats' chances in 2012, which is likely why the newly-Republican legislature pushed a barrage of bills likely to disproportionately impact Democratic voters -- a voter photo ID law, shortening early voting and ending "pews to the polls" voter drives on Sunday.
Art Pope is getting his national close-up: The New Yorker magazine has published an in-depth profile of the little-known North Carolina conservative benefactor by Jane Mayer, author of a widely-circulated piece on the Koch brothers last year.
Titled "State for Sale," Mayer's profile brings the story of Pope's influential network to a national audience, drawing on pieces in Facing South and The Independent Weekly over the last year that tracked the retail magnate's money, people and influence.