America Votes takes responsibility for controversial memo
Posted February 27, 2013
Updated February 28, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — America Votes has taken responsibility for a controversial strategy memo that led to calls from Republicans to investigate another liberal-leaning nonprofit.
Last week, sources leaked a document to the Charlotte Observer and WRAL that included an e-mail from Blueprint NC, a group that helps coordinate nonprofits.The document included polling information and a strategy memo. The memo called for pressuring Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican legislative leaders by attacking their ethics and weakening their ability to govern.
Although officials with Blueprint NC initially indicated the packet came from them, they later said they misunderstood reporters and said they were only responsible for the polling information.
Republican leaders took umbrage at the memo and called for investigations of Blueprint for violating their tax-exempt status and campaigning without disclosing their activities.
Late today, 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.
"Money is fungible," he said. "The bottom line on our point is they should not be able to use taxpayer money to engage in these kind of partisan attacks."