As North Carolina Republicans called for an investigation of Blueprint NC for violating its 501 (c)(3) status with a memo calling to cripple the conservative leadership in the state, the progressive America Votes organization has confessed to drafting it. Mark Binker of WRAL.com wrote yesterday that:
…Jessica Laurenz, state director for America Votes, said she drafted the memo.
“I wrote the draft memo in my capacity as the coordinator of progressive 501c4 organizations,” Laurenz said via email. “No legal violations have occurred, and Republican strategists are correct when they say there is nothing surprising in the document. Many people strongly disagree with Governor McCrory’s vision for the state of North Carolina and will aggressively fight it. That is hardly breaking news.”
Laurenz’s statement is unlikely to change Republican minds about the memo. Republican operatives are reveling in the negative attention focused on a liberal-leaning nonprofit network, saying that conservative groups linked to the JW Pope Foundation have been unfairly targeted for years.“Blueprint NC continues to be the victim of a disinformation campaign by political operatives seeking to silence our free-speech rights around important issues facing North Carolina,” Blueprint Executive Director Sean Kosofsky said this weekend. Earlier this week, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative nonprofit, called for all groups associated with Blueprint NC to be cut off from state funding.
“It’s not who authored it,” said Dallas Woodhouse, state director for AFP. “What Blueprint is trying to do is have plausible deniability.” Even if Blueprint didn’t author the memo, he said, it still created the forum for it to be distributed. And groups that are among Blueprint’s partners, he said, receive taxpayer money.
Laurenz is a veteran operative in the ranks of the far left.
Prior to joining America Votes, Jessica was the Director of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, where she ran political, policy and field programs in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. For most of her career, she has concentrated on advancing women’s rights in southern states, having alsoworked for the Feminist Majority Foundation as the Southeastern Campus Organizer and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia as the Deputy Director.
According to America Vote’s mission statement:
America Votes has built a permanent advocacy and campaign infrastructure that provides coordination, data and targeting services to progressive organizations; pursues electoral reforms that expand voting rights across the country; advances progressive policies through state and local ballot initiatives; and works to ensure fair state redistricting processes that advance progressive policies and protect voting rights.
America Votes’ strong progressive infrastructure will support our coalition partners’ advocacy efforts and facilitate the coordination of voter outreach.
Their list of partners include the AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Progressive Majority, Human Rights Campaign, and the SEIU. So, given that Blueprints list of clients – and their mission statement– these groups are a match made in heaven, as my mother would say. No wonder why Blueprint took a copy of the memo.
NewsObserver.com, which is based in Raleigh, added that:
In an interview, Laurenz defended the memo saying “America Votes has not done anything wrong or out of the ordinary” and didn’t regret “strongly urging my colleagues to fight for what we believe in.”
Laurenz emphasized that America Votes and Blueprint are separate groups. But she said that they work together at times to help coordinate efforts among like-minded groups, such as environmental, civil rights, womens and labor union organizations.
“It is grossly unfair to say the memo is reflective of the good work that the other groups do,” she said. “That would be a shame.”
In a statement, Blueprint’s Executive Director Sean Kosofsky confirmed that the document was authored by America Votes. Kosofsky has denied for days any connection to the plan, previously saying the group is “the victim of a deliberate disinformation campaign by political operatives.”
The memo originated from a meeting America Votes and Blueprint held in December in which interest groups aligned with Democratic politics brainstormed a strategy to counter the Republican control of the lawmaking process.
Kosofsky said he attended the December meeting but “only 501(c)3 compliant activities were discussed.”
The strategies outlined in the America Votes memo included efforts to “eviscerate the leadership,” pressure the governor at public events and hire private investigators to uncover negative information about the GOP leaders, including House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger.
Laurenz said she distributed the memo at the gathering but the organizations present did not endorse it.
“It was put out there as a jumping off point for discussion,” she said. “We had a lot of conversations on how to proceed in this new environment but I wouldn’t say we came out of the meeting with a plan.” Laurenz said her group had no intention of hiring private investigators.
WRAL left out important information about its long-running connection to Blueprint and to many of the organizations which comprise the Blueprint NC network. In a quick blog post last week I explained there was a deep and long connection between the Goodmon family-controlled Capitol Broadcasting and Blueprint NC and other activist liberal groups. WRAL is only one part of a media conglomerate. Capitol owns TV stations, radio stations and new media companies across North Carolina, plus other properties.
Also, the Goodmon family has four family members on the nine-member board of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. According to the group’s web site, this includes Barbara Goodmon, the President; Jim Goodmon, the Chairman of the Board; and two Goodmon sons. The Executive Director of the Fletcher Foundation was formerly the head of the NC Center for Voter Education, which was an original Blueprint NC member. While the exact amount is hard to determine, the Fletcher Foundation has directly funded Blueprint NC and has given at least $1.7 million to Blueprint and other affiliated groups.