America Votes takes responsibility for controversial memo

Posted February 27, 2013
Updated February 28, 2013


— 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. McCrory State of State America Votes takes credit for memo; GOP not backing down

"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."


This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • Minarchist Feb 28, 3:11 p.m.

    "So when I went to a TEA party rally and saw a bumper sticker that said "DO NOT RE-NIG IN 2012" thats not racist? The "reward" you are referring to was for one specific event. Not racism in general. I could record my aunt one night and claim that reward in a minute." vinylcarwraps23

    Picture? Proof? Nah, didn't think so. - 4Strikes

    Yes I have a picture. Anyway you can send me your email or number and Ill send it to you. Of course i took a picture of that!!!!

  • Minarchist Feb 28, 3:10 p.m.

    4STRIKES.....when will the GOP abolsih the tyranny of not being able to buy alcohol before noon on Sunday? Im glad they know when its best for people to tan, what terminal cancer patients can put in their own body to feel better, when a nip is appropiate. Nevermind. You are nothing but a misinformed partisan hack.

  • Minarchist Feb 28, 3:07 p.m.

    One party wants to disarm law abiding citizens, one wants to abide by the constitution. - 4STRIKES

    You voted for Romney a REPUBLICAN who actaully signed an assault weapons ban. LOL

  • Minarchist Feb 28, 3:07 p.m.

    You forgot, one party wants to control every aspect of people lives, right down to making all of their healthcare decisions for them. The other beleives in freedom. - 4STRIKES

    This is hilarious. Which party in NC is banning tanning, a plant, and areolas?

  • Deep Thought Feb 28, 2:34 p.m.

    Why is it OK for republicans to pull any dirty trick and tell any lie they want but just let Democrats even talk about doing it and the republicans start having heart attacks. Get over yourselves.

  • miseem Feb 28, 1:39 p.m.

    4strikes - appropriate tag. You missed on all 4 statements.

  • djofraleigh Feb 28, 1:34 p.m.

    I'm a Democrat, but there is an ugly element in the party that has to hide its intentions and actions. At one time, Democrats held the moral high ground, I think, but no more. We're a dirty little bunch of ruthless politicians, no better than republicans.

    The real culprits are we sheepish voters who don't read/watch varied enough political views and vote uninformed for the party rather than the person or the position.

    All in all, we have better government than we deserve. Thank investigative reporting for that.

  • ICTrue Feb 28, 12:52 p.m.

    "The only tangible difference is which segments of the population the parties want the spending and taxing to shoulder the burden." happymom

    You forgot, one party wants to control every aspect of people lives, right down to making all of their healthcare decisions for them. The other beleives in freedom. One party wants to disarm law abiding citizens, one wants to abide by the constitution. One wants to allow full and easy access to abortion and make the taxpayers pay for it even if they find it morally wrong, one doesn't....Are those differences tangible in your book or is that just trivial to you?

  • happymom Feb 28, 12:00 p.m.

    "there have always been heated debates in this country. The problem is only the average citizens are polarized. The two parties aren't actually all that different. They need each other. They are both all about taxing and spending. It's a distraction and a charade and it works very well."

    I agree. I've said something similar many times. The only tangible difference is which segments of the population the parties want the spending and taxing to shoulder the burden.

    The polarization is happening in the populace. Liberals and conservatives demonize each other. I can disagree with a person's politics and still see him or her as a good person. It's only when we can really listen to one another that we can make a change. Unfortunately, no one seems to be willing to do that anymore.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Feb 28, 11:32 a.m.

    "The most offensive part of this whole circus is that ANY groups like these (lib or con) receive taxpayer funding! I truly appreciate freedom of speech in America, but since when does public money need to be used to 'support' it? I don't expect NC to pay for me to say what I already have the right to say. I certainly don't expect to give public money to groups that want to amplify what they say by using taxpayer money." - pause to consider

    Indeed. All my life, I have witnessed tax-exempt churches spending money and organizing political demonstrations in brazen disregard for 501-c3 laws which allow their tax-exempt status. I watched it with my own eyes in downtown Raleigh just weeks ago.

    Out of thanks and respect for the very good things these churches do in our community, I will not name names - but I could. My point is: failure to enforce c3 and c4 laws emboldens extremists (of all political persuasions) to flaunt those laws. Consider the Westboro Baptist church case.