Morgan vs. Pope: Round 9

Some stories, like the decline and fall of Jim Black, refuse to die. Which is exactly the case in the blood feud between Art Pope and Richard Morgan, two luminaries in the North Carolina Party of Greed.

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As you may remember, Art Pope (fondly known around these parts as the Puppetmaster) dumped half a million dollars of his family's corporate money into the 2006 Republican primaries. He focused particularly on stomping out Richard Morgan, who had the audacity to work with Democrats over the years in the General Assembly. In hopes of purifying the party and remaking it in his own arrogant image, the Puppetmaster bankrolled a campaign to support Joe "the Hairdresser" Boylan against Morgan in Moore County. Morgan challenged his spending as electioneering, but was rebuffed by the idiots at the State Board of Elections.

Democracy took a sucker punch this week when the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted to allow the sale of legislative seats to fat-cat corporations. In an embarrassing display of incompetence, board chairman Larry Leake and his hapless colleagues went through the motions of hearing Richard Morgan's complaint with barely a nod in the direction of decorum or seriousness. Loony Larry even had this to say to a reporter from the Southern Pines Pilot:

Asked if the board could not really have ruled just the same way in about 20 minutes - without all the testimony and argument - Leake just smiled.

"Maybe five," he said. "But people have a right to a hearing."

Morgan has been raising money to appeal the SBOE decision, but this week announced he was dropping the appeal because the broader issue of corporate money in electioneering is being taken up by the US Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, the Morgan camp sees the case in a different light than PopeCo does. Here's the story from the Fayetteville Observer.

RALEIGH — Former state Rep. Richard Morgan has closed a legal defense fund and dropped his challenge of a political ad campaign that mentioned his name because the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a similar case later this year, his lawyer said Tuesday. The lawyer, Michael Weisel of Raleigh, said the nation’s high court will consider a Wisconsin case about the use of corporate financing for advertising before an election.

Corporate contributions to political candidates are illegal. Corporations may contribute to certain tax-exempt organizations as long as advertising by those groups expresses opinions on issues and does not advocate the victory or defeat of candidates.

Morgan, a Moore County Republican, filed a complaint last year with the N.C. State Board of Elections accusing Raleigh businessman and Republican activist Art Pope of spending more than $500,000 from his retail corporations to defeat Morgan in last year’s primary election.

The elections board ruled last August that the ads were legal, and Morgan opened a defense fund to appeal the ruling in state court. But Weisel said there was no need to spend the money and pursue the battle because a Wisconsin Right to Life group is fighting the very same battle. “It’s the exact same issue, right on point,” Weisel said. “The question is, ‘What were you really trying to do with those ads?’ Clearly, the intent was to put negative issues out there and try to influence the election.”

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Pope, of course, says he bankrolled a legal tax-exempt group to call attention to issues and that the Supreme Court case is just a dodge for Morgan to walk away from a losing proposition.

Pope said this week that Morgan was using the Wisconsin case as an excuse to withdraw his appeal, saying it wouldn't have much bearing on the state board ruling. But Weisel said the Supreme Court's decision would resolve questions in the North Carolina law cited in Morgan's complaint.

As usual, the Puppetmaster is full of wishful thinking on this. He's hoping the Supremes restrict their judgment to the question of broadcast advertising, which seems highly unlikely given the far-ranging impacts of electioneering regulations.

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to revisit the landmark 2002 legislation overhauling the nation's campaign finance laws, role of campaign spending by corporations, unions and special interest groups in time for the 2008 presidential primaries. (emphasis added)

The only side I'm taking in this battle is the side of We the People. Art Pope clearly believes that rich white guys should be able to do whatever the hell they want, which apparently extends to electioneering communications. He's skated around both the letter and the spirit of laws to get his way - and appears to have no shame at saying "screw you" to the citizens of North Carolina.

Given that the Child King has stacked the Supreme Court to favor rich white guys like Pope, I have no way of predicting how this will all shake out. But no matter what happens, the Puppetmaster's stench of corruption and arrogance is a blight on the integrity of North Carolina elections.


PS After much soul-searching, I hereby declare my support for Bob Orr in the NCGOP gubernatorial primary. As the Puppetmaster's waterboy, Orr will carry the Taint of Pope with him throughout the governor's race, making him a pariah among the few moderates in the Party of Greed. Meanwhile, Pope will flush a boatload of money on a losing candidate, some of which might have otherwise gone to propping up the increasingly irrelevant JLF Puppetshow. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?


You can hear Mr. Orr in his own words

in this WUNC interview. It's a pretty sad story of a guy in WAY over his head, spouting free-market fundamentalism every chance he gets. The interviewer asks him directly what's with all the strings to the Puppetmaster. Mr. Orr tries, unconvincingly, to laugh the question off. In other words, you elect Bob Orr, you elect Art Pope.

Sponge Bob! Republican food fights with Art!

Mr.[Sponge Bob Pope] Orr tries, unconvincingly, to laugh the question off. In other words, you elect Bob Orr, you elect Art Pope.* A

Yep! And for the price of one in Art's World.

As to the Morgan and Pope Republican pissing contest. May the best prick win in federal court without anymore of Weasel lawyer fees for the Porker from Moore County. And may the Pope bless his corporate earning this year.

I didnt listen

to that link, but the interview I heard of him on there a week or two ago was pretty good. I was more worried about him afterwards than I was before.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

This is the only interview I'm aware of

What made you worried? That he could string two sentences together without genuflecting to the Puppetmaster? He seemed like a nice enough guy, but struck me as clueless when it comes to the issues regular people face.

Plus he gave up a career on the bench to carry water for the Puppetmaster, which means he more or less sold whatever soul he had for a few pieces of gold. Seems pretty lame to me.

people dont care about issues

post game cynicsm rears its ugly head.

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

I can't wait to read this

but I wanted to say that I put that BlueNC widget on my blog's front page and I have been working over there on some stuff. I saw this headline come up and new to head on over. I love it.

A - wasn't it a friend of yours who developed this? It is awesome. You can see my BlueNC headline widget at my place. Now I'll scroll back up and read.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Maybe in his attempt to promote Orr

Art Pope will just come too close to that line and will step over it.

Orr should be forced to wear his "nickel and dime" sponsor like a race car - maybe tattoed to his forhead.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

The rap on Pope

is that he used the 06 races to perfect is mailing strategy of dropping 4999 pieces at a time - skirting around the law of 5000. My guess is that he'll plan to do the same thing with Orr - pushing on free-market issues and slamming Perdue/Moore with criticism for being "big government" libruls.

Orr will be tattooed with the Puppetmaster's money from start to finish. Every time he opens his mouth to call for this or that free-market wacko policy, the response will be: There he goes again, carrying water for a guy who couldn't get elected himself. Plus Orr has no real world experience doing anything. If you listen to the interview, he's just another ideologue who's against the same things Art Pope is against. Public schools. Teachers. Economic development. Planning. He's not FOR anything that I can tell.

Morgan's attorney

told the Pilot

"The issues in our petition are the issues being decided by the Supreme Court," said Weisel, who said that in no way is the notice of dismissal a signal that he or Morgan is backing down from the contentions in the original petition to the State Board of Elections or the appeal to Superior Court.

I wonder what Morgan is going to do with all the money his supporters from the Moore County GOP have donated to his legal fund?

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Isn't Pope still suing him for libel?

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


Probably so. I'd forgotten that.

What I hate about all of this: it makes me defend Richard Morgan.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

I think it was LaRoque

from Kinston who was getting sued, or at least being threatened with being sued. The Puppetmaster keeps lots of lawyers busy keeping his butt outta trouble, to my knowledge.

Yeah...that's it

I can't keep straight all these enemies of the Pope.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thanks you for writing this A

I saw it this morning in the Pilot but got sick and went home to bed to recoup.

Back during the debates before the election, a question was posed to Boylan asking him if he thought that Corportations do indeed have the same rights as We The People. Of course he said, "Yes"!

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

This has been my son's topic in Debate Club

for the past month. He does the "Lincoln-Douglass" event, which means he has to argue the affirmative and the negative for the question in the same event. He's won first place and "best in show" several times with this one. His affirmative has been:"Corporations are legal entities; they are formed to behave as individuals in the law." Don't know how correct that is, but it wins points in the debate. His negative is, "We don't even treat individuals equally under the law, why should we treat corporations equally? For instance, we treat third graders differently than we treat seventh graders, and we treat eleventh graders differently than we treat adults. There is no 'equal before the law'." He's scary. And yes, he often wins arguments here.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Keep Encouraging Him -

We need more people that can see both sides of an issue and pick apart the flaws in each.

Better balance - better government.

Tell him I said, 'Yay!'