July 21, 2014 Leave a comment
Pope Francis– awesome. Art Pope– not so much. Anyway, nice story about the latter in the Post recently. I had a great conversation with the new NYT reporter on “the South” beat today (hopefully, that should result in my expertise in the NYT sometime in the future) and we discussed Pope, among many other things. It is quite clear that this one man has a hugely disproporationate influence in NC politics. That said, when one looks at the rather substantial intra-party squabble going on over the budget right now, it’s also clear that Pope is not quite the puppetmaster many of his detractors believe him to be. Safe to say if he really was the all-powerful wizard behind the curtain, the Republican party would not be acting as it currently is (unless this is some super-smart devious plan to fool journalists and people like me). Anyway, here’s some good stuff from the Post story:
There is no one in North Carolina, or likely in all of American politics, quite like Art Pope. He is not just a wealthy donor seeking to influence politics from the outside, nor just a government official shaping it from within. He is doing both at the same time — the culmination of a quarter-
century spent building a sphere of influence that has put him at the epicenter of North Carolina government and moved his state closer to the conservative vision he has long imagined.
“There are not many people as influential, because few people have invested the time and the money that he has on behalf of his state,” said Republican former governor James G. Martin, who tapped Pope, then 28, to be a lawyer in his administration in the 1980s.
From the outside, Pope’s family foundation has put more than $55 million into a robust network of conservative think tanks and advocacy groups, building a state version of what his friends Charles and David Koch have helped create on a national level.
They even have the whole thing in graphic form: