N.C. Democrats launch boycott of businesses owned by conservative financier Art Pope
The North Carolina Democratic Party has called for a boycott of the business owned by leading conservative benefactor Art Pope to protest what it calls his "corporate takeover" of elections.
Variety Wholesalers -- the privately-held parent company of discount chains Roses, Maxway, Super 10, Bargain Town, Bill's Dollar Store, Value Mart, Treasure Mart and Super Dollar -- has financed political advocacy organizations that have paid for misleading ads targeting Democrats, including ads that blame them for votes they never cast.
The company "has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars -- profits taken from hard-working North Carolinians who shop at his stores -- to fund organizations that attack Democratic candidates," Andrew Whalen, the state party's executive director, said at yesterday's news conference.
Variety Wholesalers operates over 440 stores in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic region. In locating its stores, the company targets areas where the median household income is $40,000 or less and with a minimum 25 percent African-American population within five miles.
The Democratic Party is posting information about the stores on its website and will also send details in an e-mail to about 50,000 Democrats, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
The Democrats' boycott was sparked by Pope's support for political advocacy groups Real Jobs NC and Civitas Action, groups that bill themselves as nonpartisan but that work against Democratic candidates.
Pope -- a former Republican state legislator who serves as one of four national directors of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity -- also finances and controls a network of right-wing think tanks in North Carolina and has played a key role in funding organizations that attack climate science.
Pope accused the Democrats of threatening him with economic retaliation to try to shut him up. He said he doesn't think the boycott will work.
(For more of Facing South's coverage of Pope, click here.)
Sue is the editorial director of Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies.