Raleigh, N.C. — House Republicans are setting up a new nonprofit to help them talk to voters about the work they are doing and the challenges they are facing.
North Carolina House Legislative Partners filed its paperwork to incorporate earlier this month, although the original filing does not offer a lot of specifics.
Roger Knight, a lawyer who works for a number of Republican causes, declined to talk about the specifics of the group, noting that they were still getting organized and that a first board of directors had not yet been established.
However, Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, confirmed Thursday that the nonprofit was being set up on behalf of House Republicans and with input from Tillis.
"We've been frustrated during the last couple years about trouble getting our side of the story out there," Shaw said. He said that the idea is modeled on a 501(c)4 set up by allies of Gov. Pat McCrory that will help bolster the Republican governor's message.
"We wanted something to get our story beyond Raleigh," Shaw said.
The group is still in its organizational phases, Shaw said. He could not answer questions about how the nonprofit would be funded, who would sit on its board or other organizational issues.
"We're hopeful that this is the kind of model that future Speakers, future House leaders, can use," Shaw said. "As we move forward, this is about generating public discussion of issues." Shaw added that the group would be aimed at ensuring discussion of issues wasn't "simply a matter of what the press reports.... We think it's going to be useful for the public."
In some respects, the group might do work similar to what a party's legislative caucus operation does to trumpet accomplishments and draw attention to the success of members. But a nonprofit structured as a 501(c)4 would have more latitude than a traditional campaign finance organ.
Such a nonprofit could, for example, raise money while the legislature is operating, something that lawmakers are prohibited from doing for their individual campaign accounts. It could also spend money on work that's not strictly campaign related. And donors to the group would likely never have to be disclosed in the same way that donors to political campaigns are. Also, donor limits that apply to candidates would not apply to such a group.
A search of the North Carolina Secretary of State's corporation records database did not find a similar nonprofit for the Republicans affiliated with the state Senate.