This post has been updated to include comments from Art Pope.
Former state budget director Art Pope is ranked No. 15 in the U.S. Billionaires Political Power Index.
The ranking as the title indicates assesses the country’s top billionaires in terms of their overall political influence. The list was compiled by Darrell M. West, author of “Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust.”
No. 1 was a tie, Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries who rose to the top because they have already spent $30 million in the 2014 Senate race trying to take down vulnerable Democrats.
Pope, according to the list has been “extraordinarily influential in the GOP resurgence in North Carolina.” No surprise there. What is surprising is the photo that accompanied the list on the Brookings Institute website. Dome was thinking college year book, and a search of the 1978 Yackety Yack (UNC-Chapel Hill’s year book) has a similar photo of a young Pope, with hair of a length that suggests a bit of a rebel. In a letter to the Institute responding to the ranking, Pope, however, said it was his high school year book.
Pope also pointed out to the Institute that he’s not a billionaire and several other errors in the information on him, including claims about how much money he had donated to certain groups. Pope notes he gave only $200,000 of the $1.7 million raised by REAL Jobs NC in 2010.
He also takes issue with the comment that he supported eliminating the state’s income tax in favor of a flat sales tax, saying: “I have never supported elminating North Carolina’s corporate and/or personal income tax and replacing it with a broader sales tax.” Both Pope and Gov. Pat McCrory opposed such a plan which was originally pushed by state Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthew. That legislation did not pass and instead the legislature passed a tax bill that kept lowered corporate and personal income taxes, instituting a flat rate.
Rounding out West’s top five: Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor; Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager who wants to raise public awareness of climate change; Sheldon Aldeson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands casino who Republican presidential hopefuls have been wooing; and George Soros, a financier who is now co-finance chair of the Ready for Hillary super PAC.