State budget director Art Pope bristled when asked about the power-behind-the scenes perception that he is “Governor Pope.''
Pope, the Raleigh businessman and GOP financier, said there had been a “systematic campaign” by his opponents to make him the issue, rather that debate the public policy questions. In some cases, Pope said, he had been the target of “vicious, malicious attacks” portraying him as anti-public education.
He singled out N.C. Policy Watch, a liberal advocacy group funded, in part by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
He said Gov. Pat McCrory won election by a wide majority. Pope said he was recruited to the budget director's job.
“He is the governor,” Pope said. “I report to him. I did not seek the position.''
He made his comments appearing at a journalism roundtable at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Wednesday.