You might recall this report from Rachel Maddow in August, 2009 at the height of the legendary Obamacare protests. She introduced her viewers to Art Pope, a name known only to those who ever bothered to follow the money. In the billionaire funders' universe, Pope is one that is rarely mentioned but has an enormous impact on the right-wing landscape. Here's an astroturf refresher:
Rachel Maddow exposes the monied interests pretending to be "average Americans" who are fueling the outrage at these "town halls gone wild". First up, Recess Rally, sponsored by Michelle Malkin, Smart Girl Politics, Redstate, but also American Majority, and as Rachel points out, this group is hardly made up of average Americans even though they tout themselves as being a non-profit, non-partisan organization. The people behind American Majority; Ned Ryun, former George W. Bush speech writer, Lonny Leitner, Regional Field Director for Bush/Cheney '04, Shari Weber, former Republican State Legislator, Matt Pinnell, a former Washington conservative lobbyist.
Rachel notes that American Majority is an offshoot of another Recess Rally sponsor, The Sam Adams Alliance. Their President, John Tsarpalas, former Executive Director of the Illinois State Republican party, their Director, Joseph Lehman, former Dow Chemicals engineer and president of the nation's largest conservative state level policy think tank.
Another sponsor of Recess Rally, Let Freedom Ring. Their founder, the money man behind the television ad exploiting 9-11 to promote the Iraq invasion. Another sponsor, the swift boaters.
Yet another sponsor, Americans for Prosperity, and their subsidiary Patients First. Americans for Prosperity's Director, Art Pope, who has the headquarters of the North Carolina Republican party named after him since he's given them so much money. Their Chairman, David Koch, the 19th richest man in the world who runs Koch Industries, which is the largest privately held oil company in the United States.
Yes, elections have consequences, and North Carolina now has a hell of a consequence to contend with. Via the NewsObserver, this report about Governor-elect McCrory's appointment of Art Pope as "deputy budget director", a title invented for him by the soon-to-be governor of North Carolina.
Pope, who owns Variety Wholesalers, a retail chain that includes Roses and Maxwell stores, has been working as McCrory’s transition co-chairman. His new title will be deputy budget director, but that’s because by law the governor is the budget director. Pope will be the top staffer in developing the governor’s budgets.
In recent years Pope has used his money to bankroll groups that advocate conservative causes, such as the Civitas Institute and the John Locke Foundation. He also has close ties to Americans for Prosperity, another conservative advocacy group.
Brace yourself, North Carolina. That appointment is similar to the impact of appointing Charles Koch as director of Health and Human Services. It means there will be draconian cuts to services in your state, the poor will become poorer, and billionaires will add more billions to their coffers. Maybe they'll be able to hire some cheap labor to build new mansions there or something.
North Carolina is a beautiful state with wonderful people in it. They have just elected a governor who is in the pocket of the richest corporate interests in the country. This will get ugly fast, I fear.