Pope, Shanahan find place in McCrory cabinet

Posted December 20, 2012

— Art Pope, backer of Republican candidates and fiscally conservative nonprofit groups, will serve as Gov. Pat McCrory's head of budget policy, the incoming governor announced Thursday.

Although he was introduced as the "deputy budget director," McCrory said Pope will be in charge of crafting the executive branch's budget proposal, and will be a key administration player who works with legislative leaders on tax reform.

As he was introduced, Pope explained that McCrory was "by the constitution, the chief budget director." 

Pope is the head of Variety Wholesalers, a group of discount stores that includes Maxway, Roses, and Super Dollar, but he is better known for his political activities. 

He served four terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives before becoming director of the right-leaning Americans for Prosperity, a national group that helped provide some of the organizational underpinning for the Tea Party movement. In North Carolina, Pope, his business and his family foundation fund an array of groups such as the John Locke Foundation and Civitas Institute, which have provided a drum beat for conservative and libertarian ideas. He has also been a major contributor to Real Jobs NC, an independent expenditure group that backed candidates for the legislature. 

On the Record: Art Pope On the Record: Art Pope

"I got the best qualified person for the job," McCrory said when asked if Pope's appointment might create political blow back from those who see him as a highly partisan figure. Pope and his family have actively funded independent expenditure efforts on the part of GOP candidates. 

McCrory said that Pope will be "a full-time volunteer" and take leave from his nonprofit positions and his family business. McCrory pointed out that Pope was a co-author who helped create the state's rainy day fund, an emergency reserve used to respond to emergencies such as hurricanes. 

"Whether it's fair or not, he is one of the most polarizing political figures in North Carolina. And now he is writing a state budget for nearly 10 million people," said Chris Fitzsimon, a policy analyst and writer with the liberal N.C. Policy Watch. "It's shocking that a governor who claims he is trying to reach across the aisle would make such an appointment."

Pope-funded Civitas has distributed a tax reform blueprint this week that would eliminate the individual income tax in favor of raising the sales tax and broadening the number of items and services to which sales tax applies. Fitzsimon questioned whether work like that by those think tanks will now become official McCrory administration positions. 

"It's an honor to be given the opportunity to serve the people of North Carolina again," Pope said after being introduced. "We are today facing challenges in the state budget that have been here for three decades," Pope said, adding that he wants to ensure education dollars are spent wisely. 

Democrats were immediately hostile to his appointment. 

"It should be unexpected to see that Governor-Elect McCrory, once a moderate, progressive mayor, has cast his lot with the far-right," said Clay Pittman, a spokesman for the N.C. Democratic Party. Through this appointment, Pittman said, McCrory is alligning himself with "special interests, high-dollar donors and the leaders of the right wing."

McCrory also named lawyer Kieran Shanahan to be his secretary of public safety. Shanahan is a former federal prosecutor and founder of a boutique law firm in Raleigh. He has made frequent appearances as a legal analyst on WRAL News, including daily reports on the trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards. He currently serves on the East Carolina University Board of Trustees and is a principal in Shanahan Law Group.

McCrory added former Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz  to head up the the Department of Cultural Resources. As mayor, McCrory said, Kluttz helped develop the city’s Cultural Arts Plan and created a tourism master plan for Salisbury, including reorganization of local arts council.

Lyons Gray, a former state lawmaker, will serve as secretary of revenue. He has been a senior advisor to the president of the University of North Carolina system from 2011-2012. Previously, he served for four years (2005-2009) as the chief financial officer of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, where he served as the principal agency representative to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget and to the various states.

That leaves three cabinet positions yet unfilled – commerce, administration and transportation. McCrory has said he hoped to fill out his cabinet before the General Assembly returns to Raleigh on Jan. 9. 


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  • capitalland Dec 21, 2012

    The people of North Carolina have spoken. If Obama has a mandate in the United States then our new governor certainly has a mandate in NC. The fact that our great party won NC is the only thing keeping me from moving to Mexico. Viva McCrory

  • unrecreb Dec 21, 2012

    "Oh yeh? Well, I guess I'm be making most of MY big ticket purchases out of state from now on. Think of the money I'll save, especially if I'm no longer paying income tax!"


    If that includes you buying a house out of state all the more reason to be for it.

  • Nancy Dec 21, 2012

    pbjbeach - you don't believe all the decades of democrat rule in this state produced cronyism amongst democrats? Really? What color is your sky?

  • davidk_at_unc Dec 21, 2012

    "Let's get rid of the income tax and go to a consumption tax, it's the most fair tax there is." -- unrecreb

    If the state income tax is eliminated, the sales tax rate will have to increase in order to make up for the lost revenue. A tax on income pretty much determines how much people will have to pay. I don't know anyone who'd be willing to take a lower paying job in order to reduce their taxes. A consumption tax is going to give everyone the option of spending less in order to save more. One of the side effects of this is that state tax revenue will drop. People will have the option of making their purchases outside the state if they can find better deals, further diminishing the state tax revenue. Pretty soon the state government will be living on a shoestring, making Mississippi actually look pretty good!

  • davidk_at_unc Dec 21, 2012

    "Let's get rid of the income tax and go to a consumption tax, it's the most fair tax there is." -- unrecreb

    Oh yeh? Well, I guess I'm be making most of MY big ticket purchases out of state from now on. Think of the money I'll save, especially if I'm no longer paying income tax!

  • pbjbeach Dec 21, 2012

    you are 1000% correct with your postin on here forall these repbulcians want is someone that will listen to a belive ever word out of their lying mouths as being the truth. they do not like people in this state that are capably of thinking for themselves they only want someone that were it will be a case of the blind leading the blind. there is no diversity within ther party nor any form of caring for the indivsuals rights freedoms or even constituional rights an surely not fo ranyones work place right with the supporting of the right to work laws in this stae they are toatly responsible for in the first place just so as to be able for their coporate buddys to be able to work the hell out of people an then not pay them correctly or fairly they have mangaed to strip out any form of diginity from the working class in this state/ anyone that votes to reelect pat mccory in this state as governor just is not a thinking person to start with thank you

  • pbjbeach Dec 21, 2012

    these typical republican appointments to the various boards an chairmanships an an state agencys that will follow will only serve to demonstrate just how partisan mccory will be an i personal feel sorry of the state employees in this state an that they will continue to be attack by privatization an deregualtions to the points thatthey arent being allowed to do their jobs dutys as that both shannan an art pope both will only continue to attck the public sector in the nam of privatization an they will be the elitist for the elitiest an the coporate an specila instrest groups in this state with continued letting of contracts to contractors an private enitys that disavow any rightsor protections for state employees most especially within the areana of the NCDOT IN THIS STATE they will not care one whit for the average citizens in this state . in all probablity they will continue to attacking the education sysytem an the tearhers in this stae until they have wholely privatized the educa

  • wildpig777 Dec 21, 2012

    i think nc needs 4 more yrs of QUEEN PERDUE as punishment for the citizens not demanding better service of the political elite.

  • jason19 Dec 21, 2012

    "I think this is a great appointment. I'm tired of watered-down conservatives making decisions based on how they think the media and leftists(democrats) will react. Don't get wobbly-kneed Pat. Let's get rid of the income tax and go to a consumption tax, it's the most fair tax there is."--unrecreb

    Sales taxes are the least fair because they disproportionately affect the poor and middle class. The sales tax is extremely regressive because (a) you pay it even if your income is tiny and get no break whatsoever even on your first dollars and (b) a lot of what the rich buys or uses would not be subject to a sales tax, and what little they do that would be subject to the sales tax is taxed at the exact same rate as what the poor pays. That's only fair if you are naive enough to believe that the first $40,000 or so of a paycheck is not more important to the well-being of an average citizen than dollar amounts greater than that.

  • bronskrat Dec 21, 2012