Art Pope’s critics often accuse him of “buying the State of North Carolina.” If he did, he got it cheap.
The Washington Post this weekend published its obligatory profile about the mild-mannered retail magnate who became the Superman ruling over North Carolina’s budget, politics and university system.
Two numbers catch your eye.
First, the story reported that “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.” That money was spent, the story said, over a “quarter-century.”
Let’s see, $55 million over 25 years. That works out to $2.2 million a year.
But that investment – or purchase – didn’t pay off until the 2010 and 2012 elections, when Republicans took control of the General Assembly and Governor’s Office.
Enter the second number: “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.”
So let’s get this straight. Pope & Co. spent just over $2 million a year for over 25 years, with no real impact. Then they spent $1.5 million over two election cycles to achieve their long-term goal of world (or, least, state) domination.
Now, when you think of someone “buying” North Carolina, you think billions of dollars. After all, this is North Carolina! But that’s all, a measly of measly million dollars a year? Not to mention the considerable help of a favorable national political climate in 2010 and Governor Perdue’s late decision not to run in 2012?
If that’s the case, there are a bunch of people around who can “buy back” North Carolina. Which leads us to the question: “Where is the Democrats’ Art Pope?”