In response to misleading remarks made by Bill Moyers to The Charlotte Observer, Dave Riggs, Executive Vice President of the Pope Foundation, wrote the following letter:
In your comments to The Charlotte Observer, you stated, “The documentary is about the unique power that one man wields in one state, and Riggs is virtually silent about that. If he knows of any other single individual in the United States who has spent so many millions of dollars … I’d be glad to do another documentary.”
Allow me to help you fulfill that pledge by pointing to individuals such as Michael Bloomberg, who spend far more directly on political campaigns than Art Pope ever has. Bloomberg spent over $150 million on his first two races for Mayor of New York. Bloomberg didn’t spend this money on a state; he spent it on a city. His personal SuperPac, Independence USA, spent millions in 2013 alone in Virginia, New Jersey, and other states in support of Democrats and a progressive agenda. His SuperPac has a cash balance of $53 million for 2014.
In Colorado, liberal donors Tim Gill and Pat Stryker spent $7.5 million on political races in 2006. In 2007-2008, Gill gave at least $3.7 million to state political causes. As the Denver Post reported, this spending helped to shift the state from split between Republican and Democratic control to reliably Democratic at the state level.
In North Carolina, might I suggest you document such wealthy individuals as John Edwards and Erskine Bowles, who both spent more than $6 million in a single year on their respective U.S. Senate campaigns. Bill Faison loaned his campaign $500,000 during his bid for governor. All of these men are liberal progressives. Might that be the reason they’ve managed to escape your scrutiny?
A balanced report on political giving in North Carolina would show that Art Pope is not even among the top 10 Republican donors in the state, according to the Triangle Business Journal.
And if you wish to include in your numbers philanthropic giving to public policy organizations over ten years, which is the source of your “millions” in “giving” by Art Pope, then I again direct you to your own Schumann Foundation. I also direct you to your show’s foundation sponsors, which have billions of dollars in assets. Any cleared-eyed reading of the Form 990s of these foundations shows financial support of liberal, progressive public policy nonprofits.
I also note that you still fail to address the fact that, in North Carolina, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation gives millions of dollars more each year to liberal and progressive public policy groups than does the Pope Foundation to conservative groups.
The data above — on political and foundation giving — clearly show that we have a vibrant, open, and competitive political and philanthropic environment in North Carolina. We value how the open debate of competitive ideas can generate a better state. Paranoia and conspiracy theorists may want to look to one man, but the people of N.C. know better.
You’ve said that you’re willing to do another documentary. We look forward to seeing your documentary on Michael Bloomberg, Tim Gill, Erskine Bowles, John Edwards, Bill Faison, the Schumann Foundation, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and a host of other individuals and groups.
David W. Riggs
Executive Vice President
John William Pope Foundation