Head of Blueprint North Carolina denies his group sent memo plotting attacks on Republicans

jmorrill@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 22, 2013 

The head of a Raleigh nonprofit group on Friday sought to distance his group from a memo laying out ways liberals could attack Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders.

Sean Kosofsky, executive director of Blueprint North Carolina, said he misunderstood a reporter’s questions on Thursday about documents emailed by Blueprint’s former communications director to the group’s partners.

The documents, obtained by the Observer from another source, included talking points for progressive policy positions and an issues poll. It also appeared to include three pages of a draft strategy that called for weakening Republican legislators by “crippling their leaders” and working to “weaken their ability to govern.”

Kosofsky said on Thursday that the documents, some from other groups, were emailed to supporters by Blueprint.

On Friday, however, he said Blueprint did not pass on the controversial three-page draft. He suggested it was appended to the other documents by someone hoping to tarnish his organization.

“I misunderstood,” he said Friday. “This is just a bunch of confusion. I think someone has an agenda to deceive people about the connection between these things. … There are things said in there that I might even agree with, but it’s just not us.”

He said the three-page draft was circulated in December at a meeting of more than 50 progressive groups. He’s not sure who drafted it.

His comments came after the head of one of his group’s major financial backers said Blueprint had exercised “bad judgment” that could jeopardize its funding.

Leslie Winner, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, said she was “surprised and disappointed” by the draft memo.

Z. Smith Reynolds “believes in robust debate on issues of public importance; (it) does not support attacking people,” Winner said.

According to tax forms, the foundation provided $425,000 of Blueprint’s nearly $1 million budget last year.

Blueprint is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group that is prohibited under federal tax law from engaging in partisan political activity.

The draft strategy memo said that with Republicans controlling North Carolina’s state government, progressives should:

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

• “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”

• “Slam him when he contradicts his promises.”

It also urged activists to rely on “private investigators and investigative reporting, especially in the executive branch…”

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

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