With the State Board of Elections hearings scheduled for the end of August, the next six weeks will be a busy time for Art Pope and his defenders (such as our own troll Sock Rats). There will be lots of technical discussions about what the laws really say, what the laws really mean, and whether the Puppetmaster broke said laws by 'electioneering' in five key NC House of Representative races.
As you may recall, the Puppetmaster owns a 527 organization called Republican Legislative Majority. In the run up to the May primaries, RLM reports spending $188,205 to drop 300,000 direct mail pieces focused on these races:
House District 10 - LaRoque:
The Puppetmaster won this primary, which is under appeal.
House District 15 - Grady
The Puppetmaster lost this primary because his Puppet (the opponent) was disqualified.
House District 40 - Eddins
House District 52 - Morgan
The Puppetmaster won this primary and Morgan filed the complaint that will be heard at the end of August.
House District 79 - Howard
The Puppetmaster lost this primary because his Puppet was disqualified.
The Puppetmaster will not be arguing that he didn't contribute money to RLM. In fact, RLM filings show that 100% of its money comes from Variety Stores, the Puppetmaster's retail empire. Excerpts from the most recent RLM filings are shown below (click to enlarge):
The real question - and the only question as far as I'm concerned - is whether RLM spent this corporate money to influence elections. The Puppetmaster will argue that he was only 'educating' voters with his 'educational' mailings, and that he had no intention of influencing elections. He will point to a statement on his filings that says the purpose of expenditures was to:
produce direct mail pieces and develop websites addressing legislative issues and votes in North Carolina
You can see excerpts from the filings here (click to enlarge):
The lawyers involved will make a shitload of money splitting hairs about the number of mailings that can be dropped at anytime, the exact wording involved on the websites and in the mail pieces, and more.
In the wake of all the lawyering, I hope the SBOE will take the time to represent the interests of We the People in this sleazy affair. Art Pope and his Puppets dropped 300,000 pieces of mail into five NC House districts with the specific purpose of defeating Republican legislators who refused to cower to the Puppetmaster's extremist views. He wanted them defeated and he did everything he could, including breaking the law using the RLM organization, to get his way.
Art Pope's scheme to control the North Carolina State Legislature does great violence to the principles of democracy. He is extending his obsession with free markets to include the buying and selling of elections with corporate money. And for all his talk about the founding fathers, it's hard to imagine this is what they had in mind. Anyone who sees things differently is, to put it simply, just one of Art Pope's Puppets.