Raleigh, N.C. — Executives with Americans for Prosperity said Tuesday they would try to keep sustained pressure on the General Assembly for a number of conservative ideals rather than intervening on a case-by-case basis.
The conservative group is a national organization run through a pair of nonprofits – one of which is allowed to air campaign-style advocacy ads – and closely tied to oil magnates Charles and David Koch.
Backers of AFP tend to be ideologically sympathetic to the tea party wing of the Republican Party and in the past have pushed for causes such as limiting the power of cities to annex territory. Over the past month, members of the group have been critical of the House budget proposal, which would expand government spending faster than the group deems prudent.
"We're cultivating a more consistent voice for freedom-lovers at the General Assembly," said Donald Bryson, the group's state director.
Bryson pointed to a new arm of AFP's website that lays out a four-pronged approach to lobbying at the General Assembly. Nothing in the group's "jobs agenda" is a shift in philosophy for AFP, which continues to advocate for lower taxes and against state subsidies for the renewable energy sector.
"Too often, we simply say, 'no,'" AFP national president Tim Phillips said during a news conference Tuesday.
AFP, Phillips said, needs to put forward a more positive message.
"We want to be here year in and year out," he said.
AFP is just one of a constellation of both liberal and conservative groups that attempt to exert pressure on North Carolina lawmakers. Biting campaign ads and mailers deployed during campaign season gives Americans for Prosperity extra clout.
Two lawmakers, Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, and Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, spoke at the event. Hager praised AFP even as the group blasted the $22.1 billion spending plan his chamber just passed.
"I believe in AFP," Hager said, noting that the group held viewpoints close to his on renewable energy credits and other matters.
Asked why lawmakers should pay particular attention to the group's efforts, Bryson said, "I represent the folks back home too."
AFP claims 202,000 members in North Carolina. Because of how the group is structured, it does not have to reveal its funding sources or membership lists.
"We bring grassroots pressure to the General Assembly," Bryson said. "We're an advocacy groups that seeks to empower citizens in the legislative process."