UPDATED:The private nonprofit formed to advance Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's agenda is newly reorganized and poised to hold its first big-dollar member retreat next week at a swanky Greensboro resort.
The June 27-28 event at the Grandover Resort opens with a dinner and exclusive forum featuring McCrory and S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley. The minimum price for two tickets to the Thursday night activities is $1,000. The Friday agenda includes policy briefings and roundtable discussion with McCrory and other civic and business leaders, according to a fundraising invitation.
It costs $10,000 for two to attend the entire two-day event and benefits the Renew North Carolina Foundation, an entity created by key allies to the governor formerly known as the Foundation for North Carolina, which hosted its own inaugural ball. About 100 to 150 people are expected to attend, organizers said.
The minimum membership level (Cabinet Membership) to join the organization is $25,000. The cost includes two tickets to the the Greensboro event and all futures RNCF events as part of a year-long membership. The top tier members (Capitol Membership) pay $50,000 to join for a year and get additional perks.
The event's timing during the crucial part of the legislative session -- when the governor has dozens of bills on his desk and key decisions are being made about the $20 billion state budget and a massive tax overhaul effort -- is sure to raise eyebrows.
But foundation Chairman John Lassiter, a close McCrory friend, said the timing is incidental. He said the group promised two retreats when it formed shortly after McCrory's election in November and this is the first. (The next is being planned for late-fall.)
Lassiter, who led McCrory's transition operations, said this is not the governor's fundraising event. But he added, "we're honored the governor can join us."
Jack Hawke, a foundation leader who managed McCrory's 2012 campaign, said most donors gave six months ago when they joined the organization and it's not aimed at "having people who are lobbying the legislature for particular causes."
"It's a discussion on major issues facing the state and a round of golf, that's about it," he said.
The reorganization is a natural part of the group's progression, he said. Bob Singer, a Greensboro banking lawyer at Brooks Pierce who represents the state's Bankers Association, is the new president, replacing Jay Bryant, a former Wake County GOP official who initially held the post.
Lassiter leads the foundation's board, which also includes Singer; Hawke; Bill Graham, a former gubernatorial candidate and Salisbury attorney; and David Benford, a Wilmington real estate agent and GOP player. Benford also serves as the foundation's secretary and treasurer.
The 501c4 nonprofit officially changed it's name April 30, according to Secretary of State records. Hawke explained that the original name was too close to another entity, the Foundation for the Carolinas. "They said our name was impacting their fundraising, so instead of getting in an argument we changed our name," Hawke said. The new foundation's look is branded to mirror McCrory's campaign, with the same navy and green campaign colors.