The Institute for Southern Studies launched an investigative series on Art Pope, who, while not well known, is described as one of the most influential benefactors of conservative causes and Republican politics in North Carolina.
Among their findings:
* Art Pope exerts an unusual level of influence over North Carolina's conservative establishment. According to Facing South's analysis, about 90 percent of the funding of the state's leading conservative think tanks and advocacy groups comes from Pope's family foundation, which he runs. Pope is also installed on the board of directors of most of these groups.
* Pope was key to fueling the Republican Party's historic takeover of the North Carolina legislature in 2010. Facing South showed how three groups backed by Pope -- Americans for Prosperity, Civitas Action and Real Jobs NC -- joined with Pope family members to spend over $2.2 million targeting 22 key state races last November. Republicans won 18 of the contests.
* While staying out of the spotlight, Pope backs some of the right wing's most controversial causes. Pope's groups have worked closely with the Tea Party Express, whose leaders have been widely condemned for making racially-charged statements, and Pope's foundation has funded many groups that deny the scientific consensus about global climate change.
Find links to their findings on their website: www.southernstudies.org/2011/01/investigative-series-how-pope-reigns.html