North Carolina 527 begins ad buy fueled by powerful conservative players
The group received $500,000 from a small cluster of organizations, including the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, D.C., Variety Wholesalers of Raleigh and Wilmington’s RightChange.com, another 527 that’s produced multiple ads targeting national Democrats.
The Real Jobs NC’s leaders include owner of Variety Wholesalers and Republican funder Art Pope and Fred Eshelman, chairman of Pharmaceutical Product Development and a founder (with State Rep. Jeff Barnhart and Sen. Fletcher Hartsell ) of RightChange.com. According to their website, Real Jobs NC is a “non-partisan organization that believes we need to return to a reliance on the free enterprise system.”
In the AP story, Pope is quote as saying, “Real Jobs North Carolina is not partisan. We hope this message reaches all voters.” Yet Pope’s track record betrays this quote as later described in the article:
Variety Wholesalers or Variety Stores … gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a 527 in the 2004 and 2006 election cycles to defeat what he called moderate Republican lawmakers he believed betrayed the party by working with Democrats.
As Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch put it, that “sounds like the definition of partisan.”
Fitzsimon added that motives behind Real Jobs NC also contradict a non-partisan approach:
The agenda is clear too. The Real Jobs NC website proclaims that “for business to survive in North Carolina, it’s time to fight back against the frivolous lawsuit trial lawyers, big union bosses and radical environmental groups that threaten our state’s economic future.”
Breaking down the $500,000 in funding to Real Jobs NC, Republican State Leadership Committee gave $300,000, while Variety Wholesalers and RightChange.com gave $100,000 each.
The $500,000 is already in use, as Real Jobs NC recently released an ad airing in parts of the state. The ad laments what is called the “worst business environment in the Southeast” and claims North Carolina politicians want more taxes, more regulation and an expanded government “that hurt our businesses and employers.” The ad ends, “It’s time to get government off our backs, put people back to work and make North Carolina job-friendly again.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina’s unemployment rate has gone down from a 2010 high of 11.2 percent in February to 10 percent in June, the latest month available as of today, August 18.
And North Carolinians can take some solace in a new report (PDF) from business consulting firm Onvia, which says North Carolina, with Illinois and Vermont, will see the largest expected stimulus-related job growth for the rest of 2010.
(Image by Matt Mahurin)