Leaked memo outlines liberal attack plan on McCrory, N.C. Republicans

jmorrill@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 21, 2013 


Governor-elect Pat McCrory speaks as he holds a news conference to introduce some of his cabinet selections in downtown Raleigh, NC on Dec. 13, 2012.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— With Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and other conservatives controlling state government, what’s a North Carolina liberal to do?

According to one group, they should:

• “Crippl(e) their leaders (McCrory, Tillis, Berger etc.).”

• “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”

• “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”

• “Slam him when he contradicts his promises.”

Those were among the talking points and action steps in a memo forwarded by Blueprint North Carolina, a partnership of advocacy and policy groups based in Raleigh.

The memo was emailed to groups last week with a warning: “It is CONFIDENTIAL to Blueprint, so please be careful – share with your boards and appropriate staff but not the whole world.”

The Observer obtained a copy. Stephanie Bass forwarded the memo as communications director for Blueprint. She referred questions to the group’s executive director, Sean Kosofsky.

“If you want to impact the effectiveness of a lawmaker … one way to do that is to find out where they’re weak and use that to your advantage,” he said.

Among other things, the talking points memo said that “McCrory is extremely thin-skinned.” It also mentioned House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger of Eden.

It recommends a “staff of video trackers that follow targets’ every move (McCrory/Tillis) and also capture as much video of committee hearings as possible looking for opportunities to feed our overarching narrative (McCrory and the Legislature are out of control…)”

The memo included slides of progressives’ arguments. There’s some suggestion that they may have already had an effect.

When House Minority Leader Larry Hall of Durham gave his response to McCrory’s State of the State address last week, he talked about how McCrory’s plan for charter schools “lacks accountability and would allow out-of-state corporations to create online, for-profit virtual charter schools.”

Those remarks, and ones about charters that followed, were identical to language in the memo forwarded by Blueprint.

Hall said Thursday he’s not sure where his language came from, that he researches a variety of sources. He said the memo may have taken the language from earlier speeches he gave on the subject.

Blueprint, funded in part by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. According to its website, it is “strictly prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

“All Blueprint activities will be strictly non-partisan,” it says. “Blueprint activities will not be coordinated with any candidate, political party or other partisan entity.”

Kosofsky said the talking points don’t cross the line.

He said the group, which acts as a “back office” to other nonprofits, isn’t trying to influence an election. “Office holders, not office seekers,” he said, “are fair game.

IRS spokesman Mark Hanson declined to comment on the specific case.

But one Republican consultant said the memo doesn’t help any hopes of bipartisanship in a GOP-controlled legislature.

“The North Carolina Democratic Party’s attempt to retake the legislature better start today,” said Larry Shaheen of Charlotte. “Any hope they had of working together in the legislature just got dashed.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059

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