by Bob Geary
Came home today to not one but two messages from Civitas Action on my voicemail. They were identical. "Carol" was calling to tell me that "liberal Kevin Hill" did a very bad vote at the Wake school board meeting last week and I should call him and tell him so.
A phone number for Hill was supplied and repeated. "Carol" didn't tell me not to vote for Hill in the District 3 school board runoff election, nor did she say to vote for his opponent, the Civitas Action-favored Republican Heather Losurdo.
It was strongly implied, however.
Now, first off, I don't even live in District 3, so why Civitas Action was calling my household is a mystery. Two calls in the space of an hour is a double mystery.
It's no mystery what Civitas Action is up to, though. It's part of the Art Pope Empire, and the Empire is all in for Losurdo in the runoff.
Civitas Action is not a political organization, though. (Irony alert.)
Rather, it's one of the the Empire's several non-profit parts — a 501(c)4 for tax purposes, according to its website (note the link to the Pope-funded John W. Pope Civitas Institute — and as such it doesn't have to disclose where its money comes from.
501(c)4 nonprofits are limited, though, in how much direct electioneering they're permitted to do.
Hence, Art — er, "Carol" — didn't use such forbidden words as "vote for" or "let's defeat" that would constitute direct electioneering under the tortured logic of U.S. Supreme Court decisions about campaign spending. Rather, "Carol" gave me "information" about Kevin Hill, unflattering information that, per mom's advice that if can't say something nice ..., well, I just won't repeat it.
(Ah, but it turns out that our friend Rob Schofield at NC Policy Watch was told no such thing by his mom, or else he's just not listening to her. Rob recorded "Carol" and put it on the Progressive Pulse blog, should you insist on hearing her scurrilous and inaccurate "information" — Rob's take.)
As Civitas Action was not engaged in electioneering — lol — it was within its court-sanctioned rights as a nonprofit engaged in public education. Which is what it does, and you can see examples of it right here at CivitasAction.org.
No electioneering in that "Tell Heather Losurdo how swell she is ..." mailer from Civitas Action? Or the one about how swell Ron Margiotta is? (Or was, until the voters in District 8 decided to boot him off the school board in the October 11 election.)
By the way, Civitas Action isn't filing donor reports with the State Board of Elections, but it is required to file campaign spending reports. The latest one is signed by officers of the J. W. Pope Civitas Institute, which gets the bulk of its money from the John William Pope Foundation — other wings of Art Pope's Empire. Here 'tis: