A new attack on the Trump administration could be coming to a billboard near you.
Progress NC, a left-of-center advocacy group, is raising money to post billboard ads in communities that Hurricane Matthew hit last October. The ads would blame President Donald Trump for the level of recovery funding the state has received.
Spokesman Logan Smith said the group submitted art to a billboard company this week and the group is hopeful billboards will be up in the next couple of weeks.
“As a small organization, we can only do so much but with a stroke of a pen Trump can give almost a billion dollars for recovery,” Smith said. “The ultimate responsibilities for these areas impacted by Hurricane Matthew can be changed by Trump.”
Gov. Roy Cooper sought more than $900 million in the state’s latest request for federal hurricane-relief funding. North Carolina received $6.1 million, less than 1 percent of what it asked for.
That came after Congress approved about $330 million in December to help rebuild houses, roads and infrastructure in North Carolina. North Carolina has received another $750 million in federal relief money that didn't require congressional action, including FEMA assistance and flood insurance payments, according to Sen. Thom Tillis’s office.
All told, according to the Democratic governor’s office, $1.4 billion in state and federal funds were allocated to North Carolina as of May.
But Cooper says more funding is needed, much of it for repair, reconstruction and elevation of housing.
“Families across Eastern North Carolina need help to rebuild and recover, and it is an incredible failure by the Trump Administration and Congressional leaders to turn their backs,” Cooper said in a statement May 10.
Progress NC has echoed the criticism. “Trump forgot NC. Make ’em pay,” says the subject line of one email the group sent last month soliciting contributions for the billboards. “Hurricane Matthew victims need your help NOW,” says another.
Smith said he does not know the exact amount of money Progress NC has raised so far. Based on money received, the group is looking to put billboards in Robeson County, Wilmington and Beaufort County. He said the organization will continue to raise money and look to put billboards in other places.
N.C. Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse criticized the campaign and said North Carolina’s members of Congress are working to add to relief funding.
“Progress NC, and other leftist groups, will take advantage of any opportunity to politicize an issue,” Woodhouse said. “The fact they would touch on people’s pain and impact people’s joint effort to help out is disgusting.”
Smith says the issue is a bipartisan one and the campaign is an “outcry against” the Trump administration. The group chose to place billboards in storm-affected areas because they voted heavily for Trump in 2016, he said.
With the level of recovery funding and a threat by the Trump administration to cut farm subsidies, Smith said people are beginning to see who they voted for.
“The guy that promised to look out for the forgotten man is turning his back on them,” he said. “Folks in the area realize they were conned by their candidate.”