Here he goes again. Republican Art Pope, the wealthy Raleigh retailer, has long been a fixture in raising money for conservative candidates at all levels, and his latest effort is for Gov. Pat McCrory, up for re-election and in a tough fight with Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. Oh, but wait. Pope’s effort, under the banner of a free-market advocacy group called Real Jobs N.C., isn’t working with McCrory at all, you understand. Oh, no. Because while Real Jobs can raise and spend all the money it wants on political commercials, under the 527 tax code, it can’t coordinate with a candidate’s campaign.
So that’s why eyebrows raised when the group was planning a fund-raiser and it was going to feature McCrory — who couldn’t attend as it turned out because he was tending to business regarding Hurricane Matthew. Cooper’s campaign went ballistic, saying, “As North Carolina prepared for a hurricane, Gov. McCrory was preparing to raise money for a group that he is legally barred from coordinating with for the specific purpose of running false attacks against Roy Cooper.” The News & Observer’s Under the Dome asked the state Board of Elections to look at the invitation to the event. The board acknowledged that it couldn’t say whether there was coordination based on the invitation, but a board official did say “appearing at the event could generate questions about potential coordination.”
The whole “coordination” issue is ridiculous and everybody knows it. Basically, groups run by wealthy individuals are using the laws on campaign finance, or the lack thereof, to take care of their candidate, whether coordinated or not. Ads against Cooper are ads for McCrory, period. And yes, this kind of manipulation happens on all levels and on both sides. This is just more evidence of the need for comprehensive campaign finance reform. But there’s probably a 527 group that would fight that, too.