The Right

Did Art Pope break his pledge to step away from politics as State Budget Director?

In December 2012, when then-Governor Pat McCrory announced Art Pope’s appointment as State Budget Director he said Pope promised to take time off from his other commitments, but Bradley Foundation documents show Pope’s influence on the organization was beginning to grow while he was budget director.

“I want to say this that Art has agreed to take time away from his business and from the family Pope foundation and from his numerous public and nonprofit boards to serve the state again as a full-time volunteer”  – Pat McCrory, December 20, 2012 

Despite that pledge, Pope continued to fund North Carolina conservative political groups as a board member of the right-wing Bradley Foundation. Pope joined the Bradley board in 2012 and continued to serve during 2013 – while also serving as State Budget Director. Pope was named Chair of the Bradley Foundation Board in 2017. 

2013 Bradley Foundation Board of Directors, Pope is pictured standing on the far right (Bradley Foundation Annual Report, 2013)

We have previously covered the Bradley Foundation’s growing influence in North Carolina and its plan to bring the “Wisconsin model” to other swing states. Now it is clear that Art Pope was continuing to fund right-wing political committees in North Carolina at the same time he was a state employee.

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Leaked internal documents detail conservative superfund's plans for North Carolina

The DNC wasn’t the only political operation hacked last year. The arch-conservative Bradley Foundation was also embarrassed by a data breach in 2016 that found some of its most sensitive documents posted publicly to the internet. Why does that matter in North Carolina?

The Bradley Foundation spent heavily supporting right-wing political organizations in the Tar Heel State.

The Bradley Foundation is a Wisconsin-based conservative funder worth nearly $900 million— as large as the three Koch family organizations combined. The foundation has expanded its focus from Wisconsin to key swing states such as North Carolina where it is funding conservative organizations focused on creating a "comprehensive communications infrastructure around four primary elements: radio, online content aggregation, mobile applications and an AP-style news service for local newspapers,” according to a leaked foundation memo. Groups include the John Locke Foundation, Civitas, and Carolina Plott Hound.


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