Ad by McCrory backer signals change to campaign cycle
Posted September 9, 2013
Updated September 10, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — If it seems a bit early for Gov. Pat McCrory to be launching a re-election campaign, it is.
But the ad that will tout the governor's goals on TV across the state over the next month or so is not quite a campaign commercial, and it is not funded by the McCrory machine.
The Renew North Carolina Foundation, which spent at least $166,000 on air time for the ad, is a 501(c)4 – an independent group outside of the formal campaign structure that promotes McCrory's policies.
Brent Laurenz, executive director of the nonpartisan North Carolina Center for Voter Education, says similar groups are popping up around the country for Democrats and Republicans alike.
"I think we're getting into this 24-hour, 365-day-a-year campaign cycle. It never stops," Laurenz said.
501(c)4 groups can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support a candidate. There are no contribution limits, and they don't have to disclose their donors, like actual campaigns do.
"We want to know if Industry X is paying $200,000 to help elect a state senator," Laurenz said. "You know, that's in the public interest to know that information, and with these outside groups, we don't get that information unless they want to volunteer it."
There is one limit: 501(c)4s are not supposed to coordinate with any campaign. Renew North Carolina's ad slides right through that loophole. This far out from the next gubernatorial election, McCrory is not technically a candidate.
Laurenz said the ads may simply be to boost the governor's approval rating, which has seen a dip.
"We're stepping on the toes of the left and the right to make tough necessary changes," McCrory says in the ad.
He talks about lowering taxes, beefing up vocational training and cutting down on waste and fraud in government.
"We're getting more efficient now with your tax dollars (and) plan to use the saving to reward our best teachers," McCrory says.
The tag line: "North Carolina's future is worth stepping on a toe or two."
A statement on Renew North Carolina's website defines the group's mission this way: "Renew NC advocates for policies and issues we support as a foundation committed to moving North Carolina forward."
The group says it supports specific aspects of policies McCrory has pushed while in office.
"An agenda that calls for efficiency in government, excellence in education, and improving our business climate to put people back to work is not only in the best interests of the citizens of North Carolina today, but those who follow in the future," says the statement.