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Art Pope: I'm just working for the man

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.


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What does he expect?

After buying the best government he could in Raleigh.

Boo hoo...

Oh no, liberals on social media have been mean to Art Pope. Guess what, that knife cuts both ways. Do you really think Bev Perdue or the Easley's didn't endure the same slings and arrows from the right? If you are going to be as public and confrontational as Pope that stuff goes with the territory and he only makes himself seem petty and small for whining about it.

Can't stand the heat

If you had read my comment more carefully, you would have quickly discerned that I was not questioning Art's right to spend his money however he chooses.

Our differences with him relate to the extreme policies and actions that he (and the people he funds) take and engage in.

It's fine to jump into the political game with both feet and sling all kinds of mud. If that's what he wants to do, I say "go for it!"

But if you do that, you can't then turn around and complain that people who differ with and criticize your positions are engaging in "vicious" and " malicious" attacks. That's what so mystifying about Art's attitude: He seems to crave enormous power to implement dramatic and controversial changes, but get offended if anyone dares to question him.

Hypocrisy?

So, let me get this straight. NC Policy Watch has a problem with Art Pope because he spends his own money to "influence the state political process". Question for your Rob. How is NCPW funded? By wealthy people who want to influence the state political process? The essence of hypocrisy, no? And yes the attacks on Pope have gotten vicious. Maybe the public attacks have been on issues but social media comments have gotten very personal, rude and unfair.

Good grief

It should be noted that while Art alleged that he has been the butt of "vicious, malicious, personal attacks," he couldn't come up with any examples of such attacks when specifically asked for them at today's event -- save for a claim he attributed to my colleague Chris Fitzsimon and I that he doesn't support public education.

This is a "vicious, malicious, personal attack"?? Questioning a wealthy politician's views on public education (with lots of evidence, to boot)?!

For a man who has run for statewide office and spent millions upon millions of dollars to influence the state political process for decades -- often with extremely personal campaign attack ads (one actually darkened a candidate's skin and superimposed a sombrero on his head!)-- Art has a remarkably thin skin.

Rob Schofield NC Policy Watch

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