How Conservatives Took Over North Carolina

Once a more moderate state amid the South’s sea of red, since 2010 North Carolina’s state legislature has pushed one of the most aggressive right-wing agendas in the country, advancing the interests of the Tea Party and big business at the expense of the middle class. Republicans in charge of the General Assembly have introduced legislation on a wide set of conservative priorities and managed to enact increasingly extreme policies. Republican lawmakers made it harder for minorities and students to vote, reduced a woman’s right to choose, opposed the minimum wage, slashed unemployment benefits, and gave tax cuts to the wealthy while raising them on the working class, small businesses, and seniors.

Republicans hold such power in North Carolina thanks to changes that began with the 2010 elections, when an influx of outside cash helped the GOP obtain control of both halves of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century. Their majorities gave them power over once-a-decade redistricting, and with assistance from national groups and Republican operatives, they redrew North Carolina’s federal and state districts in a way that all but ensured Republican victories in 2012. In the next election cycle, the state’s new districts and some additional outside spending delivered to Republicans the governor’s mansion, a majority of the state’s U.S. House seats, and a supermajority in the state House to complement the one they had earned in the state Senate in 2010.

The GOP’s success in North Carolina wasn’t merely a mirror of the Tea Party wave that benefited Republicans across the nation in 2010; it was part of a strategy crafted on the national level and carried out with the cooperation of prominent conservative interest groups and donors, including the Koch brothers. Chief among these are the Republican State Leadership Committee, which planned and largely bankrolled a nationwide strategy to control redistricting; Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed group that made North Carolina a ‘model state’ for its political efforts; and the network of conservative North Carolina-focused super PACs and advocacy groups funded almost entirely by longtime political operative and Koch ally Art Pope. Using his personal, family, and business money, Pope created and sustains groups including the Civitas Institute, the John Locke Foundation, and Real Jobs NC, which collaborate on electoral strategy and public policy to advance conservative reforms.

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Karl Rove’s Decade Of Deception

Today, the Bridge Project is releasing this video in response to the misleading Crossroads ad on Benghazi. Called, “Karl Rove’s Decade of Deception,” the video highlights Rove’s dangerous habit of misleading the American public on matters of national security – just to score political points. From selling the war in Iraq, fudging intelligence, Valerie Plame, and the new Crossroads ad on Benghazi, Rove has been deceiving Americans for more than a decade.

Crossroads GPS: “Over”

Fresh off an electoral battering, Crossroads GPS is picking up the pieces and regrouping with a fresh “issue” ad tarring the president’s opening bid on a deal to avert the upcoming tax increases and spending cuts known collectively as the “fiscal cliff.” The group’s accusations about a “huge tax increase” without accompanying spending reforms fall short, however. President Obama’s initial offering included both revenue increases – $1.6 trillion, to come primarily from an expiration of top-bracket tax rate cuts and limiting deductions – and $600 billion in spending cuts, most of which would come from health care programs.

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Crossroads GPS: “No Clue”

An ad from Crossroads GPS nonsensically attacks New Mexico Senate candidate Rep. Martin Heinrich both for too much spending and for a vote that may result in spending cuts. In reality, it was the recession and policies like the Bush tax cuts – both rounds of which Heinrich’s opponent voted for – that drove up debt. The automatic spending cuts are looming thanks to Republicans’ refusal to compromise on deficit reduction; when Heinrich voted for the last-minute deal that imposed those cuts as an incentive for a super committee to find compromise on deficit reduction, his primary concern was raising the debt limit and avoiding the economic catastrophe that would have resulted from default.

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Crossroads GPS: “Roadblock”

Crossroads GPS presents Heidi Heitkamp as an obstacle to Mitt Romney’s agenda in an ad called “Roadblock,” stressing that “every single vote” on the repeal of health care reform and the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy will be crucial. The ad is highly dishonest about each of those policies, falsely claiming that ending Bush’s upper-income tax breaks means taxing small businesses, and accusing Heitkamp of “cutting Medicare spending” even though her opponent voted twice for the same Medicare savings.

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Crossroads GPS: “Blew It”

Crossroads GPS attacks former Maine Governor Angus King with caricatures of his actual policies and ideas, and comes up short at every turn. The wind energy project he was involved with cut local taxes in half; his education cuts amounted to less than 2 percent of planned school aid; and he reduced Maine’s tax burden over his tenure, while returning the state’s budget to health. He supports the Affordable Care Act, but GPS misrepresents the law’s provisions.

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Crossroads GPS: “Both”

Crossroads GPS doubles up in an ad hitting both President Obama and Tim Kaine for spending, deficits, taxes, and looming defense cuts brought on by the failure of a deficit-reduction super committee to reach a deal. The group also uses an out-of-context quote from Kaine to suggest he blindly supports the president’s policies. In reality, the recession created budget deficits on the state level, while Bush-era Republican policies are largely responsible on the national level. Spending growth is low under Obama, and Kaine cut billions to leave Virginia with a balanced budget. And while both Kaine and Obama supported the debt limit deal that created the super committee and imposed sequester as an incentive for compromise, both support finding a way to avoid the defense cuts.

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Crossroads GPS: “Down”

Crossroads GPS would like Ohio voters to forget the Bush recession ever happened and attribute all of their recent economic troubles to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). But while the recession destroyed millions of jobs nationwide, Ohio’s unemployment rate has fallen by almost a third during the recovery, which has featured consistent private-sector job growth. The recession was also a significant factor, along with other Bush administration policies, to high deficits over the last several years.

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The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

In the penultimate week before Election Day, conservative outside groups once again flooded the airwaves with attacks on Democratic candidates. Ten conservative groups were responsible for the 31 televisions ads we fact-checked – 16 of them targeting House candidates, 10 aimed at Senate candidates, and five attacking President Obama or cheerleading for Mitt Romney. As they did last week, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS led the way, accounting for 12 of the ads we debunked. Since Monday, the two groups have announced four separate ad buys totaling a whopping $22.8 million.

Aside from American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, several groups contributed to the assault on President Obama and Democratic Senate candidates. Restore Our Future, 60 Plus, and the American Future Fund each weighed in on the presidential race. We also fact-checked two Senate ads from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one apiece from American Commitment and Hardworking Americans Committee.

Coleman Groups Drill House Candidates With Oil-Funded Ads

But the most prolific groups focused on the House, where, in addition to four spots from Crossroads GPS, we answered five ads from the Congressional Leadership Fund, four from American Action Network, and three from Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman is the chairman of both CLF, a super PAC, and AAN, a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors. CLF’s top individual contributors are billionaire Romney boosters Sheldon Adelson and Bob Perry, but it also recently received $2.5 million from Chevron – the “largest contribution from a publicly traded corporation” since the Citizens United decision – which is a good indication of who Big Oil expects to prioritize its interests in the next Congress.

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Crossroads GPS: “Vision” IA-04

In an ad hitting congressional candidate Christie Vilsack (D-IA), Crossroads GPS levels a series of falsehoods about the Affordable Care Act. Despite the ad’s claims, the health care law reduces future Medicare spending without cutting seniors’ current benefits, it helps control rising costs, and it’s expected to expand insurance coverage – all without taking health care decisions away from individuals or raising taxes on most Americans. What’s more, Vilsack’s opponent voted to keep the $716 billion in savings GPS attacks the Democrats over.

Read more after the jump.