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Published in National Review Online August 12, 2021.
Jane Mayer’s Conspiracy Theory of Lies
By ART POPE & RICK GRABER
August 12, 2021 6:30 AM
Here we go again.Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money, purports to expose another plot by the Right to take over American politics and governance. This time, the so-called “dark money” trail leads to The Bradley Foundation, a private grant-making organization that we lead as chair and president.
Mayer paints a story in The New Yorker that The Bradley Foundation is orchestrating and funding an “aggressive assault on democracy” by sowing doubt about the 2020 election results, paving the way for state legislatures to restrict voting laws, and laying the groundwork to challenge future election results.
In her piece and subsequent media interviews, she states that “since 2012, the foundation has spent some eighteen million dollars supporting eleven conservative groups involved in election issues.” Using this number is designed to mislead readers. Mayer appears to include all funding to a grantee even if election issues play a relatively small role in their work.
In addition, the Foundation does not make “dark money” grants. All grants are publicly disclosed on a quarterly basis.
It’s also absurd to suggest that the Foundation started making election-related grants in 2012 somehow knowing there would be a presidential election in 2020 with one candidate making allegations of fraud, as if we had a crystal ball. Bradley’s grants can never be used for political purposes — much less to overturn elections. All grants are made to nonprofits that are required to meet IRS guidelines that prevent them from engaging in political activity.
What does The Bradley Foundation fund with its grants?
In 2020, Bradley gave only $500,000 in grants to groups doing election-integrity work, all of which is routinely disclosed. It’s a significant sum, but nowhere near Mayer’s invented figure.
It pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars some groups on the left poured into election issues. It’s also small compared with the more than $10 million we gave to local arts, education, and community groups during that same period.
This giving is in keeping with our longtime mission to advance the principles of a free and vibrant society, and in turn preserve our constitutional democracy. We support efforts that encourage voter participation and give Americans the confidence that their votes matter.
Unfortunately, Mayer is not alone in perpetuating a false and dishonest media narrative that fuels greater distrust. In an era of cancel culture, even questioning whether the election system can be improved gets one labeled “conspiracy theorist.”
There are many genuine and valid reasons to want to ensure the integrity of elections.
The right to vote for candidates whose ideals best represent one’s own is a bedrock of the American experiment. Fair elections at every level, whether for school board, state representative, or U.S. president, are integral to the preservation of our republic. If our election system has integrity, we continue to have faith in the democratic process, regardless of who wins or loses an election.
Currently, concerns about election integrity are bipartisan and nationwide. According to a recent poll, only 55 percent of Democrats say they “completely trust” the election process. Clearly, there is work to be done to restore confidence.
It is reasonable for every election to go through a postmortem about what can be improved, but last year’s election merited even greater scrutiny. The pandemic and an increasingly polarized electorate guaranteed that 2020 would be an unprecedented election year.
And that it was.
Nearly half of voters cast a ballot by mail or absentee. Compare that with 2016, when only about a quarter of votes were cast by mail. Or the widespread ballot harvesting that occurred, which opens the door for activists on both sides of the aisle to tamper with or throw out someone’s ballot. Or the hundreds of millions of dollars from the Center for Tech and Civic Life that were given to the country’s most populous cities, which overwhelmingly vote left.
To be clear, questioning and assessing whether there are vulnerabilities within the election system is not equivalent to saying there’s rampant voter fraud or that the election was rigged. Rather, it’s a recognition that changing voting rules can — and have in previous elections — lead to numerous problems. Lost ballots, stolen ballots, and ballots sent to outdated voter rolls are all issues with common-sense solutions that still make it easy for people to vote.
As citizens of this exceptional country, our goal should be to have an election system that encourages voter participation, ensures that each person’s vote counts, and instills faith in the process. Sadly, Ms. Mayer’s inflamed and inaccurate reporting makes achieving that goal much more difficult.
Art Pope is Chair of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Rick Graber is President and CEO of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
Art Pope is named a board member for New Republic Partners, which is a Charlotte-based investment management and wealth advisory business with backing from the Belk, Close and Bowles families.
Business North Carolina, By David Mildenberg, February 16, 2021
Veteran N.C. banker Ralph Strayhorn and money manager Tom Hoops started New Republic Partners, a Charlotte-based investment management and wealth advisory business with backing from the Belk, Close and Bowles families. Board members for the company include Raleigh retail-chain owner Art Pope and former N.C. State Treasurer Janet Cowell.
New Republic Partners has $1.35 billion in assets under management, which officials say would make it the sixth-largest Registered Investment Advisory firm in the Carolinas and among the 50 largest in the Southeast. The company also owns Roanoke Rapids-based New Republic Bank and has about 30 employees, about half of them based in Charlotte.
The John M. Belk Endowment, the M.C. Belk Pilon family interests and the Springs-Close-Bowles family interests will be clients and shareholders. The combination brings together heirs of two families that for generations controlled the Belk department store chain and Springs textile empire while exerting enormous influence over civic and business affairs in the Carolinas.
A private equity group bought Belk for $3 billion in 2015. Springs Industries, once the largest textile employer in South Carolina, combined its business with a Brazilian textile company starting in 2001 and no longer manufactures in the Palmetto State.
New Republic Partners plans to offer investment, wealth advisory and credit solutions for individuals, families, endowments, foundations, and advisors. Investors with $10 million or more are the target market for the firm’s “complete wealth management services,” says Hoops, who is president and chief operating officer. But the business will also market to accredited investors, usually typified as having a net worth of $1 million or more, he said.
“This is a very challenging time to be an investor and their portfolios need to look different than they have historically … with more access to the private markets including private equity and private credit,” Hoops says.
“The alignment of our professional team, investors, board members and founding family clients creates a strong foundation for the firm,” adds Strayhorn, who is the CEO.
Strayhorn is a former bank CEO who also headed a private consultancy, Cape Point Advisory, that worked with 15 banks during the 2007-09 financial crisis. Hoops is a 35-year veteran of the investment management industry who was a top investment executive at Wells Fargo and predecessor institutions. Most recently, he was a member of the executive committee at Legg Mason Global Asset Management, where he led global product strategy, M&A and strategic investing.
“The investment team at New Republic Partners brings innovative thinking and a high degree of expertise,” says M.C. Belk Pilon, president and board chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. She will be a member of New Republic’s board along with Sam Bowles, who is joining the business as a managing director. He is the son of former Springs Industries CEO Crandall Bowles and Erskine Bowles, a Charlotte investment banker and a former UNC System president. Pilon is the daughter of the late John and Claudia Belk. John Belk was a former Charlotte mayor who led Belk Store Services for many years, while Claudia Belk was a local district court judge.
“We partnered with New Republic Partners because they expanded our capabilities in ways that other asset managers and advisors could not,” Sam Bowles said in a release.
New Republic’s staff includes people who have worked for the Belk and Close family offices, overseeing their investments.
Having a small commercial bank gives New Republic broader opportunities, Strayhorn says. The company converted a former savings bank started in 1988, which has offices in Roanoke Rapids, Burlington and Rocky Mount, into a state-charted bank that is a subsidiary of New Republic’s holding company. Other parts of the business include the advisory firm and a broker-dealer, New Republic Securities.
The Triangle Business Journal highlighted the John William Pope Foundation’s $10,000 grant to help the Boys & Girls Homes of North Carolina provide foster parent training in Wake County.
Triangle Business Journal, Philanthropy & Nonprofits, January 21, 2021
The John William Pope Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to help the Boys & Girls Homes of North Carolina provide foster parent training in Wake County.
“We are truly grateful to receive this grant that will support our foster care program,” said B&GH President and CEO Ricky Creech. “This grant will support our continued growth in this area, enabling us to provide even more children with an environment of care where health, healing and hope are experienced every day.
These funds will specifically provide facilities in Wake County to conduct initial and recurring foster parent training and certification along with CPR manikins and training spaces.
“Wake County has the second-highest number of children in the North Carolina foster care system,” said B&GH Chief Program Officer Donna Yalch. “This funding will allow us to certify more parents, creating more safe and welcoming homes for children in need of care.”
While B&GH has been training parents in Wake County for several years, the challenges of the pandemic have complicated the process, officials said, making this grant even more important.
Read more local nonprofit briefs here: https://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/news/2021/01/21/new-year-new-thinking-for-charitable-giving.html
Published by The Salisbury Post – Monday, December 11, 2020
Two think tanks — both nurtured and sustained financially over the years by the family of longtime conservative political donor Art Pope — are merging.
The John Locke Foundation and Civitas Institute announced on Thursday that they’ll unite under the Locke Foundation name starting Jan. 1. The John Locke Foundation began in 1990, while Civitas started in 2005.
Amy Cooke will remain the Locke Foundation’s CEO and publisher of the Carolina Journal news website and newspaper. Civitas Institute head Donald Bryson will become foundation president and its chief strategy officer.
“We have created an unmatched powerhouse for economic opportunity and conservative values in North Carolina and in the Southeast,” Cooke said in a news release.
Both groups have received funds routinely from the John William Pope Foundation, of which Art Pope is chairman. Art Pope leads Variety Wholesalers Inc., which operates Roses and Maxway discount retail stores. Pope served in the state legislature and was then-Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director.
Civitas Action, a political education arm of Civitas Institute, will remain in place as a separate sister organization, the release said.
The Indy Week acknowledges their potentially misleading and false claims that were corrected by Art Pope.
Posted by The Indy Week: Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Last week, writing about the funding relationship between the Raleigh Fine Arts Society and the John William Pope Foundation, Brian Howe wrote that its chairman, Art Pope, “has a long history of supporting policies that harm marginalized communities: bankrolling the 2010 Republican takeover of the N.C. legislature, HB 2, climate-change-denial campaigns, and more.”
Art Pope wrote to contest these claims:
“The Indy Week corrected false statements made about the Pope Foundation in its August 12 print issue but replaced it with equally false statements about me.
First, I did not “bankroll” a “2010 Republican takeover of the N.C. legislature.” During the 2010 legislative elections, Democrats outspent Republicans, I was not the largest donor, and the “takeover” consisted of the Republicans winning 59% of the statewide legislative vote in a fair election in districts drawn by Democrats.
Second, I had no involvement with, much less bankrolled, the enactment of H.B. 2. After its adoption, I was publicly critical of both the Charlotte ordinance and of H.B. 2. Multiple media outlets reported my proposal—for the ordinance to be rescinded and H.B. 2 to be repealed. This was the solution eventually enacted by Charlotte, the legislature, and Governor Cooper, respectively.
Third, regarding bankrolling “climate-change-denial campaigns,” I do support a vigorous policy debate on environmental and related economic issues. It is unfortunate that in today’s toxic political environment, the pejorative term “climate change denier” is given to any person or organization that questions any aspect of the Green New Deal, which alienates potential allies on specific environmental issues.
Finally, I believe that the overall policies that I support, based on the principles of individual liberty, with equal justice and rights for all, protected by a constitutional government, will improve the well being of marginalized communities. To be sure, there is much work to be done and promises to be fulfilled, but I believe we can have civil conversations about the best way to help marginalized communities without attacks. Indy should stick to the facts and let its readers decide for themselves their beliefs and opinions.”
The INDY concedes that Pope has publicly criticized HB 2 and that the source for our claim that he “bankrolled” it, Facing South, is partisan. As for our other claims: The New York Times has reported that “Mr. Pope has used a family fortune to endow conservative research groups and donate to tax-exempt organizations that unseated Republican moderates as well as Democrats,” while The New Yorker has reported that “Tax records show that Pope has given money to at least twenty-seven groups … including organizations opposing environmental regulations, tax increases, unions, and campaign-spending limits.” If we find we erred on further review, we’ll issue a correction. We acknowledge that “bankrolled” may have been too broad a term. As for HB 2, we stand corrected.