Right-leaning group to target Cooper with ads


RALEIGH (AP) — A conservative-leaning group that backed North Carolina Republican legislative candidates earlier this decade wants to help GOP Gov. Pat McCrory this fall in his re-election bid.

Real Jobs NC hopes to raise $400,000 initially for ads critical of Attorney General Roy Cooper, McCrory’s Democratic challenger, according to a fundraising email from Republican donors. Multiple news outlets report the email came from Michael Whatley, a veteran GOP consultant involved in energy issues.

Whatley’s email also cited help from Art Pope, a longtime donor to conservative causes and McCrory’s former budget director, and David Powers, who was born and raised in St. Pauls and is a member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. Real Jobs NC, Whatley wrote, “will put up a series of hard-hitting ads against Roy Cooper.”

A fundraising event for Real Jobs NC scheduled late Friday at a Triangle-area restaurant featuring McCrory and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis as speakers was canceled because of the approaching Hurricane Matthew, Real Jobs NC attorney Roger Knight said. McCrory’s campaign said Thursday he wasn’t going to be able to attend anyway because of the storm.

Pope is listed on 2015 group filings with the Internal Revenue Services as a group officer, along with North Carolina business executives Murchison “Bo” Biggs, a Lumberton businessman, and Allen Gant. Pope’s family business contributed in 2010 to Real Jobs, which ran ads designed to help GOP General Assembly candidates. Republican won majorities in the House and Senate in November 2010.

Campaign rules prevent coordination between candidates and outside groups.

“The governor was invited to stop by an event and speak to a group of supporters about his record of results and vision for North Carolina but, because of the storm, will not be,” McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz wrote in an email Thursday. “The governor’s campaign does not control or coordinate with Real Jobs NC in accordance with the law.”

Cooper campaign spokesman Ford Porter blasted McCrory for attempting to raise money for a group with which Porter said the governor is barred from working.

Amy Strange, a deputy director at the State Board of Elections, told media outlets that McCrory “appearing at the event could generate questions about potential coordination” but whether coordination occurred can’t be determined based solely on looking at the email or invitation.

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