Responding to critics, Art Pope 'shocked' by picket protest

12/09/2013 5:03 PM

08/05/2014 6:51 PM

A week after a picketing campaign began at his family’s stores, Art Pope responded to critics in a letter that says he is “shocked” by the tactics being used against him.

The letter is a response to NAACP President Rev. William Barber, who handed Pope a letter a week ago when the two happened to confront each other at on a sidewalk in Raleigh. Barber and his associates are protesting Pope’s financing of conservative causes from profits at his Variety Wholesalers stores.

Pope is Gov. Pat McCrory’s state budget director and a major conservative benefactor. He responded on his company’s letterhead and signed as president of Variety Wholesalers, a role he stepped away from when he joined the McCrory administration.

The letter from Barber and other critics of the Republican administration and state legislature asked Pope to renounce policies that they believe hurt poor people and join the call for a special session to reverse course. Pope responded that he disagrees “with some but not all” of the critics’ positions. He said they share a common goal of alleviating poverty.

But at the same time, Pope said he was “saddened” by the attacks on his company, arguing that it creates and brings “thousands of much-needed jobs to communities throughout North Carolina.”

“I am shocked that you and your allies would demand any public official to support your political positions, by threatening a business which is not part of state government,” Pope wrote.

The stores, such as Roses and Maxway, sell discount goods and pay the state “millions of dollars in income and sales taxes to finance our public schools and other public services.” He also touted the racial diversity of the stores’ workforce.

Pope wrote in the letter, “in a free and small ‘d’ democratic society, every citizen should be free to support the candidates of their choice, and advocate the policies they believe in, without retaliation.”

One of the issues where Pope and his critics agree is the need for an independent redistricting committee. As he notes in the letter, Pope sponsored two bills to create such an entity in his years as a state lawmaker.

Under the Dome logo

Under the Dome

Under the Dome is your inside source on North Carolina politics and government and has been a regular feature in The N&O since 1934. Check here for the latest on state and federal government, political advocacy and upcoming elections. This blog is maintained by the N&O politics staff.

Join the Discussion

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service