We're launching FollowNCMoney.org as a beta release, largely because of gaps and inconsistencies in government reports. For example, a search of the NC State Board of Elections website for Independent Expenditures and Electioneering Communications* -- the two main ways independent election spending is classified in NC -- reveal only a fraction of the committees putting money into state-level politics.
Anybody who's spent time combing the BOE's campaign reports knows there is a huge chasm between accurate and helpful information and no information at all. Such is the drawback to self-reporting to a horribly understaffed regulatory arm of state government. But this is what's at stake:
In the tradition of corporate bully Titan Cement, Art Pope likes to throw his money and considerable weight around in North Carolina. His latest move, covered earlier here, is an exercise in extreme projection. Many believe that Art Pope's Puppetshow organizations have long violated both the letter and spirit of election laws, and should have their non-profit status revoked.
The irony of Mr. Pope's legal attacks on progressive non-profits, including the Institute for Southern Studies, must not go unnoticed. Which is why I was so pleased to receive an email from ISS this weekend using Pope's attack as a fundraising hook.
Last month, officials in South Carolina, facing resistance from the Department of Justice to their new voter ID law, concocted a ghoulish tale of dead voters taking over the state's elections.
As was suspected from the beginning, the fevered stories of "zombie voters" turned out to be fantasy. This week, state elections officials reviewed 207 of the supposed 950 cases of dead people voting, and couldn't confirm fraud in any of them. 106 stemmed from clerical errors at the polls, and another 56 involved bad data -- the usual culprits when claims of dead voters have surfaced in the past.
So the question is, how did this cheap B-movie fiction make it into the public debate in the first place?
Good stuff from Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies.
Much of the media buzz about the 2010 Census has focused on the role of Latinos and new immigrants in changing the face of the country. It makes sense: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about half of the nation's growth over the last decade was driven by growth in the Latino community, much of it in Southern states.
But equally influential in the South's rapidly-changing demographics is another story with a longer historical arc: The return of many African-Americans to Southern states after a decades-long exodus during the Jim Crow era.
Perhaps more than any other North Carolina politician, Sen. Jim Davis owes his place in the state legislature to Republican millionaire donor Art Pope. And now, Davis is the lead sponsor of a bill that Pope and his network of conservative groups have made a top priority this year: to dismantle the state's system of publicly-financed, "clean" elections -- a reform aimed at lessening the influence of outside money in politics.
In a year of record-shattering spending for state-level elections, about 75 percent of the outside, non-party money in North Carolina's 2010 races was funneled through three groups backed by Art Pope: Americans for Prosperity, Civitas Action and Real Jobs NC.
It was a whirlwind trip, covering hundreds of miles of coastal bayous and byways, and dozens of conversations with local residents, community leaders, government officials and BP representatives about what is clearly more than a short-term disaster for the Gulf Coast.
To give you a taste of our fact-finding mission, here are some notes from our jam-packed itinerary:
BlueNC is a labor of love. Views expressed by any particular community member are simply that: the views of that particular member. If you have questions or concerns about the content you see here, please contact us.