The Kochs’ favorite North Carolinian is back on the dark money scene. Newly released documents show that “third Koch brother” Art Pope waited just 11 days after resigning as Gov. McCrory’s state budget director to start issuing checks again.
During his time as state budget chief, Pope and Variety Wholesalers halted their political spending. Pope stepped down on Sept. 5, 2014, and speculation began as to whether he would resume his political advocacy. It didn’t take long: Only 11 days later, Variety Stores — the wholly owned subsidiary of Variety Wholesalers, where Pope is chairman and CEO — gave $100,000 to the Republican Governors Association (RGA), the Washington, D.C.-based super PAC that spends millions to help Republican gubernatorial candidates. Last year the governors group spent big and racked up key victories in states including Florida.
The same day it donated to the RGA, Sept. 16, Variety Stores also gave $400,000 to the Freedom Partners Action Fund, the super PAC of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which has been called the “central bank” of the Koch brothers’ conservative political spending operation.
Pope’s business has continued making donations this year, giving the RGA another $50,000 on June 18 and $100,000 to the Freedom Partners Action Fund the following day.
Pope has a long history with the Kochs: He served as a founding board member of Americans for Prosperity, and his family foundation has given millions to AFP’s 501c3 nonprofit branch. Pope attended the Kochs’ recent annual donor summit in California, as he has in past years. The summit attendees pledge to give at least $100,000 per year to Koch-approved groups.
Pope’s own wealth and coordination also played a major role in the state’s 2010 Tea Party surge.
Three spenders associated with conservative millionaire Art Pope targeted 16 of 24 races in 2010 that saw a Democratic incumbent lose reelection. Pope’s groups spent nearly $2 million targeting 27 legislative races, accounting for 72 percent of the independent spending in 2010.
Pope and the Kochs have long been comrades-in-arms in their crusade to take over North Carolina, one political donation at a time.