There’s something rotten in the state of North Carolina — and it smells like money. Specifically, Art Pope’s money.
In fact, Pope and his cash are responsible for North Carolina’s recent meteoric rise as the poster child for regressive, conservative politics.
As the head of Variety Wholesalers (a family-run discount store holding company) and the $150 million Pope Family Foundation, he has invested in an array of think tanks and advocacy groups dedicated to aggressively aligning the state’s political terrain with his business interests. Gov. Pat McCrory, whose campaign he bankrolled, recently named Pope to the powerful post of state budget director.
Pope is, for all intents and purposes, North Carolina’s third, lesser known, Koch brother. In fact, he’s attended the Koch Brothers’ planning summits and considers himself their close ally.
In 2010, Pope’s organizations spent $2.2 million on 22 state legislature races, and won 18 of them. In fact, outside groups backed by Pope accounted for 75 percent of independent spending in those races. In 2012, Pope and his affiliated groups again spent more than $2 million on the election, leading to a Republican supermajority in the General Assembly, and putting McCrory in the governor’s mansion.