The Facts Behind the John Locke Foundation

[July 19, 2007, Sylva, NC] Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation is stepping up its efforts to encourage continued uncontrolled development in Western North Carolina. The political organization has established an office in the mountains and has launched a “Wild West” blog devoted to undermining any local leaders who address the serious negative impacts of development on the health and safety of local residents and the environment. While its spokesmen frequently use terms like “liberty” and “property rights”, the public posturing of the John Locke Foundation conceals the personal agenda and ambitions of its founder, Art Pope. Former state legislator Richard Morgan, Republican from Moore County, calls Pope: “an eccentric millionaire with gobs of money….I feel compelled to stand up to Art and the people Art influences with his money and try to prevent our party from being turned back in time and turning the state’s clock back 50 years.” Other details on the Pope empire are found in a 2006 News and Observer article written by Rob Christensen: Pope, 49, a Raleigh retail executive, has emerged as an important behind-the-scenes figure in Tar Heel politics, spending millions of dollars on a network whose purpose is to move North Carolina to the political right. You might call it Pope Political Inc. Pope Political Inc. now has 50 people on its payroll, including academics, journalists, political operatives, lawyers and a former N.C. Supreme Court judge. The Pope fortune was made in hundreds of small towns across the South. Started in the 1930s in Fuquay-Varina, Variety Wholesalers grew over the years to more than 500 discount stores and 10,000 employees. The company operates stores Even as many conservatives cheer Pope's patronage, he has created enemies who feel that one man has gained too much power. They say Pope is bankrolling half of a civil war in the GOP to purge Republican moderates in the state House of Representatives. Among his critics is former state Rep. David Miner, a Republican from Cary, whom Pope helped drive from office. "What is scary about Art Pope is that it is one person," Miner said. "There is not any committee. There is no oversight. There is no elected official involved to face the voters every two years or every six years. It's him and his own personal agenda, and he is throwing his money around big time. Art Pope wants to control North Carolina politics." under several names, including Rose's, Maxway and Super 10. Privately held, the company competes with the likes of Wal-Mart and Dollar Stores in 14 states. The vehicle for the family's giving is the Pope Foundation, whose assets had a fair market value of $53.6 million in June, according to tax documents.

Beyond its attacks on moderate Republicans and on regulations that would hold developers accountable for negative impacts on local communities, Pope’s John Locke Foundation uses corporate funding to advance its message that “global warming is a myth.” In a 2005 article for the Independent Weekly, investigative journalist Sue Sturgis exposed how the fossilfuel industry backs the Pope political machine: While Locke does not take money directly from Exxon, it does receive funding from other fossil fuel interests and from organizations that are themselves funded by ExxonMobil. But it does not openly disclose that fact. According to one of Pope’s assistants at the John Locke Foundation: …his organization did not receive money from utilities or other fossil fuel concerns in recent years. However, complete returns for the past three years obtained through the New Yorkbased Foundation Center show Locke received at least $81,500 from organizations with fossil fuel ties during that period. ( In fiscal year 2003, the most recent year for which a return was publicly available, Locke's second-largest contributor was the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. One of the Koch Family funds, ( ly_foundations.htm) the foundation is operated by David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries, the largest privately held oil conglomerate in the United States and a leading contributor among gas and oil companies in the 2004 federal election cycle, according to a recent report by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity (CPI). ( 7) "Although it is both a top campaign contributor and spends millions on direct lobbying, Koch's chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers," the CPI report states . In 2001, the John Locke Foundation received $6,500 from the Center for Energy and

Economic Development (CEED), an Amarillo, Texas-based nonprofit whose Web site says it is "dedicated to protecting the viability of coalbased electricity." ( Locke has also taken money from groups funded by ExxonMobil, according to, a database sponsored by Greenpeace USA. In 2002, for example, Locke got $5,000 from The DCI Group of Phoenix, a Republican lobbying firm whose Tech Central Station Web site is sponsored by ExxonMobil, and in 2001 it received $10,000 from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF) of Fairfax, Va., which in turn has received more than $500,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. In addition…Art Pope has served on the boards of AERF and Citizens for a Sound Economy, a Washington-based organization founded by the Kochs that has received more than $380,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998, according to The political operatives in Pope’s employ relentlessly crank out opinion pieces, editorials and quasi-academic policy papers aimed at undermined anyone working for clean energy or prudent controls on development. When you read between the lines, the consistent message of the John Locke Foundation is that the protection of local communities and the environment can be, indeed MUST be, sacrificed in the cause of “freedom.” But make no mistake. The “freedom” that the Art Pope juggernaut desires is for corporate interests like utility companies and big developers to continue plundering North Carolina for their own enrichment and without regard for the working people of the state. For the most part, the people of Jackson County are too smart to fall for Pope’s John Locke Foundation propaganda. Sources – “The Knight of the Right”, Rob Christensen, News and Observer, January 29, 2006. “Turning the Warming Tide,” Sue Sturgis, Independent Weekly, May 11, 2005.