The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 4th

Report alleges Koch brother influence in North Carolina elections

The report was released by The Bridge Project, an extension of the nationwide Democratic Super PAC, American Bridge. It accuses Republican politicians of taking contributions from Charles and David Koch, two high-profile businessmen who are known for contributing to conservative campaigns.

The report describes the Koch brothers’ financial involvement in N.C. issues, ranging from veterans to healthcare to House Bill 2. The report also includes a list of Koch-funded candidates including incumbent Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, and Gov. Pat McCrory.

In September 2016, the Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group founded by the Koch brothers, launched a six-figure campaign against Roy Cooper, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, according to the report.

Morgan Williams, spokesperson for the Bridge Project, said voters need to be aware of what influences politicians mentioned in the report.

“They are beholden to the Kochs because they have received all this money from them and they may not look after North Carolina’s best interests first,” she said.

The report alleged that in the 2010 midterm election, Americans for Prosperity funded candidates who would go on to co-sponsor and support House Bill 2.

The report accused the conservative-leaning John William Pope Civitas Institute, which was named after the father of major Koch donor Art Pope, of acting in the Koch brothers’ interests.

Susan Myrick, an election policy analyst for the Civitas Institute, said in an email that while the facts about Civitas were true, the report is misleading because it only discusses a small amount of the political funding in the state.

“The left has significantly more money, groups and paid staffers working to advocate for liberal causes in North Carolina than the right has for conservative causes,” she said.

Rob Schofield, policy director at North Carolina Policy Watch, said roughly a decade ago there was a trend in the state toward elections that didn’t rely on large donors.

“Now we’ve sort of, unfortunately, embraced this system in which money is overwhelmingly important, and especially big-money which comes, generally, from a handful of super wealthy donors,” he said.

The flow of political money into the state disempowers local voters, Schofield said.

“It feeds control of our elections to people who aren’t even North Carolinians quite often,” he said.

@markerparshall

state@dailytarheel.com



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