Art Pope: From Billionaire Donor to State Bureaucrat
The Washington Post has an in depth article that details Art Pope's rise to become one of the most powerful figures in state government. The article explore the conservative network he's funded with millions of dollars to groups advocating for VoterID, cuts to higher education, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and host of other priorities, many of which have been passed by the legislature. From their article,
But half of its total giving through June 2013 — $55 million — went to the four policy groups and the national foundation arm of Americans for Prosperity, according to records provided by the Pope Foundation.
For much of their existence, the Pope-backed groups served as a “conservative government in exile,” said GOP political consultant Dee Stewart. “Those think tanks generated the ideas that conservative candidates ran on for many, many election cycles.”
The opportunity to put the policies into practice finally came when the GOP won control of the legislature and then captured the governor’s office — the first time since 1870 that Republicans controlled the two branches of North Carolina government.
Pope and his family played a significant role, donating more than $500,000 to state candidates and party committees in 2010 and 2012, according to an analysis of state campaign finance data by the Institute for Southern Studies, a liberal research group. His company, Variety Wholesalers, gave almost $1 million more to outside groups that ran independent campaigns.
Last year, the General Assembly approved a torrent of conservative measures that resembled ideas touted by Pope’s think tanks. Among them were bills that cut unemployment benefits, blocked the expansion of Medicaid, restricted access to abortions and ushered in new restrictions on voting.