Facing South

GOP donor Pope: I didn't 'buy the North Carolina legislature' (video)

Art Pope WRAL.JPGEven in a year marked by record-shattering election spending, North Carolina donor Art Pope's role in fueling the Republicans' historic victories in the state legislature was unique in its scale and impact.

As Facing South documented in an in-depth report last week, Pope's family and three groups linked to Pope spent more than $2.2 million targeting 22 key state house and senate races in N.C. -- over $100,000 per race, a staggering sum for state-level contests.

Facing South's report garnered widespread media attention, with featured stories on TV news and newspapers across the state.

It also provoked a response from Pope, who insisted that he didn't "buy the North Carolina legislature." When asked about the money his family and groups spent, Pope told WRAL TV News:

Acknowledge and proud of it [money spent on North Carolina races]. But that doesn't mean I spent millions of dollars to buy the North Carolina legislature.

See the video here:

However, in the same interview, Pope appeared to suggest that his family's big investment in the 2010 elections did help influence key state races -- and he's happy it did. As he also told WRAL:

If that [campaign spending] helped them [Republicans] win, especially in the close elections, then wonderful.

Pope's money certainly appears to have been a key ingredient to the GOP's success in capturing the North Carolina legislature. As Facing South reported, Pope's family and a constellation of independent groups linked to Pope -- Americans for Prosperity, Civitas Action and Real Jobs NC -- spent their $2.24 million targeting 22 state house and senate seats.

The result: 16 victories for Republicans -- an extraordinary 73 percent winning percentage -- and five races that face likely recounts. A Democrat clearly prevailed in only one of the 22 races.

Pope and other Republicans say that money wasn't the only factor, pointing to a national wave of pro-GOP sentiment. They also point to spending by people and groups aligned with Democrats, who have traditionally enjoyed a spending advantage in North Carolina.

While that's undoubtedly true, several factors distinguish the massive spending by Pope's family and groups in 2010, which saw unparalleled success in the state:

* TARGETING THE WAR CHEST: By focusing their spending on some two-dozen key races, Pope's family and groups were able to overwhelm Democrats in the campaign spending war.

The $100,000-per-race average that Pope's family and groups spent in 2010 was historic for state-level races. By way of comparison, in the last mid-term elections in 2006, the average N.C. state legislative candidate raised about $94,000 for their entire campaign, according to the National Institute on Money and State Politics.

The spending levels for 2010 -- both by campaigns and outside groups -- will likely end up being much higher. But Pope's family and groups still afforded Republicans a huge spending advantage: In races like NC Senate District 50, the amount they spent was still more than the total raised by the Democratic candidate overall.

* NATIONAL ALLIES WITH DEEP POCKETS: Pope's groups also benefited from support from powerful national allies.

The biggest of the North Carolina groups linked to Pope, Real Jobs NC -- which spent $1.5 million on a flurry of controversial attack ads on state Democrats -- got a major boost from the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Committee.

The RSLC funneled $1.25 million into Real Jobs NC as part of its REDMAP campaign, a national effort to win state legislatures for the GOP in time for 2011 redistricting. Pope's family business Variety Wholesalers in turn gave $36,500 to support the RSLC's efforts.

* A COORDINATED STRATEGY: By using three seemingly unrelated groups to hit Democrats with a variety of attacks in TV, radio and print media, Pope helped create an echo chamber that made it look like Democrats faced widespread opposition. 15 Democrats faced attack ads from at least two of the independent Pope-backed groups.

That outside spending was complemented by $240,000 in personal contributions from Pope family members, and much more from the state Republican Party, to the candidates themselves to fund ads and attacks -- a well-aligned strategy that further enabled Republicans to create synergy and efficiently target resources.

As Pope told WRAL TV:

I'm not looking for anything other than good government and ending the corruption of the Democratic Party's control over our state government.

Pope's family and groups invested big money to realize that goal, and they can't help but be satisfied with the results.

People Referenced:


re: GOP donor Pope: I didn't 'buy the North Carolina legislature

Since he ran his money through a dummy PAC named RealJobs . . . what are the facts about how Pope's family businesses pay and treat their employees in NC, an "at will" employment state.

Also, what was the outcome of the fight over his father's estate?

re: GOP donor Pope: I didn't 'buy the North Carolina legislature

Where is your “in depth investigation” and outrage over Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue raising millions from corporations that are regulated or do business with the state? That includes banks, utilities and now a New York billionaire’s lottery company.

I guess such outrage only applies to conservative Republicans, even if they are retailers, who have done nothing illegal, and do business with the general public, rather than with the state government.


Modified Fri, Nov 19, 2010 06:03 AM

Lottery vendor investor hosts Perdue event

Gov. Bev Perdue was headed to New York City on Thursday night for a campaign fundraiser hosted by a billionaire whose financial interests include a lottery vendor that has sought to do business with the state.
Ronald O. Perelman serves on the board of directors for Scientific Games. He also is a major investor in the company. Three of the company's employees were convicted of crimes related to the 2005 push to approve a lottery in North Carolina.

re: GOP donor Pope: I didn't 'buy the North Carolina legislature

What companies do the popes own?

re: GOP donor Pope: I didn't 'buy the North Carolina legislature

Art Pope may not have bought the NC State Legislature,but the Pope family has invested heavely in it for many years,2 and 1/2 million at one pop can influence a lot of people especially when the state and nation are mad as hell with every body.These new republicans had better walk light fix every thing no one else can fix.The help of all the negative advertising by Karl Rove,Rupert Murdock and the Fox net work really captilized on a angry American middle class.It is a shame when leaders of big politics resort to feeding off negatives.But it worked for the politicions,i just hope the old working glass might see a tiny bit of spin off from it,but out of my 72 years i have never seen any good come out tearing down people.

Art Pope can't get elected

Art Pope can't get elected dog catcher, but he has plenty of money to buy elections for those who share his archaic views.

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