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A leaked memo to the Charlotte Observer on Thursday night has political watchers’ tongues wagging across North Carolina today.
• “Crippl(e) their leaders (McCrory, Tillis, Berger etc.)”
• “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”
• “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”
• “Slam him when he contradicts his promises.”
Those were among the talking points and action steps in a memo forwarded by Blueprint North Carolina, a partnership of advocacy and policy groups based in Raleigh.
The memo was emailed to partner groups last week with a warning: “It is CONFIDENTIAL to Blueprint, so please be careful – share with your boards and appropriate staff but not the whole world.”
It recommends a “staff of video trackers that follow targets’ every move (McCrory/Tillis) and also capture as much video of committee hearings as possible looking for opportunities to feed our overarching narrative (McCrory and the Legislature are out of control…)”
The memo included slides of progressives’ arguments. There’s some suggestion that they may have already had an effect.
When House Minority Leader Larry Hall of Durham gave his response to McCrory’s State of the State address last week, he talked about how McCrory’s plan for charter schools “lacks accountability and would allow out-of-state corporations to create online, for-profit virtual charter schools.”
Those remarks, and ones about charters that followed, were identical to language in the memo forwarded by Blueprint.
The problem is that Blueprint NC is supposed to be a non-profit, non-partisan organization.
Blueprint, funded in part by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. According to its web site, it is “strictly prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”
“All Blueprint activities will be strictly non-partisan,” it says. “Blueprint activities will not be coordinated with any candidate, political party or other partisan entity.”
Another element of this story emerging is the close connection between a major mainstream media outlet and Blueprint NC.
The WRAL reporter left out the very deep connections WRAL has with BlueprintNC through its owner Jim Goodmon, donations and former employees. The AJ Fletcher Foundation has given $35,000 to BlueprintNC and $380,000 to the NC Justice Center which initially housed BlueprintNC when it was formed (the foundations 990 IRS reports are not current so there may be more) . The Goodmon family which owns WRAL has 4 family members on the board of the Fletcher Foundation including Barbara the President and Jim the chairman of the board. The Executive Director was formerly the head of the NC center for Voter Education, one of the original members of BlueprintNC. In addition Chris Fitzsimon, former WRAL reporter, is head of the liberal NC Policy Watch, the original lead attack group in the Blueprint coalition. Fitzsimon is also provided free airtime on Goodmon owned WRAL-FM from which he launches daily attacks on political opponents. The Fletcher Foundation has been a long time funder of Policy Watch is now housed in the Justice Center.
Wral is also actually doing one of the items in the strategy memo. The memo on page 3 calls for tracking McCrory “Campaign Promises” and “slam him when he contradicts his promise.” WRAL appears to have taken that for action by launching their “Promise Tracker“, complete with cute little ”Skull & Crossbones” symbols
UPDATE: Charlotte Observer is now reporting that the leaked memo may jeopardize Blueprint NC’s funding by it’s largest donor.
Leslie Winner, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, said she was “surprised and disappointed” by the actions of Blueprint North Carolina.
“(Z. Smith Reynolds) believes in robust debate on issues of public importance, (it) does not support attacking people,” Winner said. “We were disappointed to learn that Blueprint is advocating this strategy…
“We are taking this seriously. We are determining our options and our obligations. We will get to the bottom of it.”
The Foundation is providing $400,000 of Blueprint’s nearly $1 million budget, Winner said.
Tags: Blueprint, Blueprint NC, mainstream media, McCrory, North Carolina, Tillis
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