NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

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In early 2010, Republican strategists launched a new project called RedMap. The idea was to flip as many state houses across the country to Republican majorities during the 2010 election cycle — particularly in states where congressional redistricting was pending. “The thinking behind it, which was very ingenious, was that state legislative races are cheap and if you can just put a bit of money into them and flip the statehouse, then you can control the redistricting process, which in turn gives the Republican Party a great advantage in putting members of Congress in the House of Representatives,” says New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer. “And most people don’t pay a lot of attention to what’s going on in the states. … But it’s kind of ground zero for where politics is playing out.” What the country is seeing is what looks like spontaneous combustion of far right-wing Tea Party politics, but behind that there are some very instrumental players who have great family fortunes, corporate fortunes — and who are coordinating to a certain extent. Mayer’s latest article in The New Yorker looks at North Carolina, where Republicans gained a majority in both houses of the North Carolina State Legislature during the last election cycle. She details how the state, expected to be a key battleground in the 2012 presidential election, flipped to Republican control with the help of both RedMap and a conservative multimillionaire named Art Pope. Pope, the chairman and COO of a discount-store conglomerate, pumped millions of dollars into helping the RedMap strategy succeed during the 2010 state legislative races. “He and his family members have basically poured money into the state’s politics,” says Mayer. “Forty million dollars is about what they’ve spent through their foundations. About $35 million of that has gone towards pushing a far-right political agenda in North Carolina. In the 2010 state races, where people don’t spend much money, he and the groups that he helped found — that were supposedly independent groups — spent $2.2 million. It doesn’t sound like a lot nationally but it can make all the difference in the context of one state. So basically what you’re looking at is one very wealthy corporate captain who when motivated enough can exert enormous influence in a state.” The influence Pope wields in North Carolina can be seen in the results of the 2010 legislative election. Republicans won 18 of the 22 races Pope or his organizations targeted. Roughly 75 percent of spending by independent groups during North Carolina’s state races came from accounts linked to Pope. “They’re supposed to be independent groups and non-partisan for the most part and yet so much of the money — when you take a close look at it — is linked back to this one man, Art Pope,” says Mayer. MORE

NEW YORKER: Buying North Carolina

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