Blueprint NC ,a 501(c)(3), has a some explaining to do after the Charlotte Observer ran an article last night detailing the group’s attack strategy via a leaked memo. The headline in the Charlotte Observer last night reads: Leaked memo outlines liberal attack plan on McCrory, N.C. Republicans
The article begins:
With Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and other conservatives controlling state government, what’s a North Carolina liberal to do?
According to one group, they should:
• “Crippl(e) their leaders (GovMcCrory, House Speaker Tillis, Senate leader Berger etc.)”
• “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”
• “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”
• “Slam him when he contradicts his promises.”
Those were among the talking points and action steps in a memo forwarded by Blueprint North Carolina, a partnership of advocacy and policy groups based in Raleigh.
The memo was emailed to groups last week with a warning: “It is CONFIDENTIAL to Blueprint, so please be careful – share with your boards and appropriate staff but not the whole world.”
WOW. Share it with your boards and appropriate staff. Well, someone shared it with the wrong person since the Observer wound up with it. After my initial reading of the article, the last one struck me as familiar – WRAL’s shiny new “Promise Tracker“. When this promise tracker came out, I questioned WRAL on why there wasn’t a Bev Perdue tracker. This is the answer I received was in a Private message on Twitter. I tweeted them publicly and they replied PRIVATELY. Which means they had to follow me and unfollow me just to send this message:
They didn’t have the resources to have someone jot down and post Bev Perdue’s promises to their site? What kind of resources would that take exactly? A pen? Some paper? Ethics?
But I digress… back to Blueprint NC.
Also in the article, the Charlotte Observer notes:
Blueprint, funded in part by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. According to its web site, it is “strictly prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”
“All Blueprint activities will be strictly non-partisan,” it says. “Blueprint activities will not be coordinated with any candidate, political party or other partisan entity.”
I checked the “About page” for the group and found this language was not repeated, but instead read nearly the opposite:
What is Blueprint North Carolina?
Blueprint NC is a partnership of public policy, advocacy, and grassroots organizing nonprofits dedicated to achieving a better, fairer, healthier North Carolina through the development of an integrated communications and civic engagement strategy. Ultimately, Blueprint aims to influence state policy in NC so that residents of the state benefit from more progressive policies such as better access to health care, higher wages, more affordable housing, a safer, cleaner environment, and access to reproductive health services.
We are determined to change the public policy debate in this state, and are dedicated to becoming more effective and prolific speakers and writers about progressive ideas and values. We are determined to engage more citizens in the public dialogue, because we believe that the strongest democracy hears from all people, not just those with the loudest voices or the shiniest megaphones.
We realize that there are powerful and well-funded forces here that believe all problems arise from individual choices, and that the American way is everyone for himself. We hear them claiming every day to be the voice of the average person, but we know their policies are those of narrow self-interest, not the common good.
North Carolina is better than that, and at the best times in her history we have been very proud—such as when Terry Sanford led in the integration of schools in the 1960s. In comparison to other Southern states we have been leaders in economic prosperity, technology, higher education and election reform, to name a few.
But we can do better. Blueprint NC’s partner organizations involved are driven by the shared values of justice, equality, responsibility, fairness, community, opportunity, shared prosperity, democracy, and hope. They represent a wide range of issues, including environmental protection, combating poverty, advancing civil rights and personal freedoms, and voter-owned elections.
Blueprint has been created as a strategic initiative – focused on creating collaborative change and not focused on a public identity beyond our partners. Blueprint does not seek recognition for itself, but prefers that its partners be recognized for the good work that they do. Blueprint intentionally keeps its staff small, and focuses on supporting, building and strengthening its partners. The partners, in turn, guide the direction of the work, through a Board of Directors, and Civic Engagement and Communications Committees.
I couldn’t investigate the site any further, because you need a Login and Password to proceed.
There is no sign up that I found located on the site to obtain one, so I assume one has to email one of the contacts listed on the about page. I’ve never seen a non-profit page quite so tightly locked up.
The most eye raising part of the Observer piece was this, emphasis added:
The memo included slides of progressives’ arguments. There’s some suggestion that they may have already had an effect.
When House Minority Leader Larry Hall of Durham gave his response to McCrory’s State of the State address last week, he talked about how McCrory’s plan for charter schools “lacks accountability and would allow out-of-state corporations to create online, for-profit virtual charter schools.”
Those remarks, and ones about charters that followed, were identical to language in the memo forwarded by Blueprint.
Hall said Thursday he’s not sure where his language came from, that he researches a variety of sources. He said the memo may have taken the language from earlier speeches he gave on the subject.
Guess what? Blueprint is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit org. They claim they are non-partisan but that’s total bullsh*t. The Observer notes that the Blueprint website reads that they are ““strictly prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” If that’s the case, they could well be in violation of their own code (in spite of the group’s executive director dodging by suggesting their rule only applies to those running for office, not those already in it & governing) and, more importantly, its tax-exempt status. Will the state GOP press on this issue? Time will tell.
Regardless, the fact that House Minority Leader Hall (D) appeared to lift word for word certain memo language from the memo Blueprint forwarded should raise red flags across this state as to the potential for Democrats in the state legislature to follow its orders, especially on “crippling” & “eviscerating” state government via GOP leaders like the Governor and following and videotaping them everywhere they go (which is UNCALLED FOR, no matter that the national GOP and Democrat parties do it regularly). While it’s normal for the opposition party to want to limit the agenda of the majority party as much as possible, ultimately they have to learn to work with them – for better or for worse. Any of the Democrats in the state legislature who don’t understand how this is done should ask their GOP colleagues, considering the GOP as a party has rarely – and I do mean RARELY – been in control of both state houses here. Democrats have largely ruled this state going back well over a century, and that includes the Governorship, so Republicans have had little choice but to work with them when they could, and oppose them when they felt the need was necessary. Disabling state government was never part of the picture.
Indeed. Read the whole thing.
Blueprint NC lists itself as a 501(c)(3) organization; IRS confirms. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, Blueprint NC has revenue of $1,037,947. Recent notable monetary activity from the group shows Blueprint NC giving Coalition to Protect All Families $104,612.97 to fight Amendment One in NC last year. My search for their filing documents dead ended there.
I did a brief look up of the staff listed on the ‘About’ page. What I found didn’t surprise me that much.
Sean Kosofsky , according to a profile at The Bilerico Project, used to work for NARAL Pro-Choice NC and involved with LGBT since 1994. Twitter account: @SeanInNC and Facebook here. Quite the activist. Kosofsky was also interested in Occupy Raleigh. Forum posts referencing an email sent to Occupy (example below) from Kosofsky are here and here. Kosofsky’s LinkedIn profile is here.
Stephanie Bass had far less activism experience but her LinkedIn profile is here for those wishing to look it over.
Erin Dale Byrd’s profile via FoundersCommittee.org is here. LinkedIn profile here. Byrd is a “Lyberator” through HKonJ as well and describes herself as such: “Who Am I: I am a sister soldier for the Most High, mother of two, freedom fighter, poet, organizer, cultural artist, digital storyteller, political strategist, lover, friend and overall agitator.” Byrd is also listed as a board member of the NCACDC (NC Association of Community Development Corporations), which is also tied to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Interestingly, she is also mentioned at Occupy Raleigh in the forums discussing the 2012 NAACP HKonJ rally. In that forum, she’s tagged by her Lyberator email address and listed as “Political Chair of NAACP‘. Her Twitter account is here. Byrd also uses the HKactivists page to post job openings at Blueprint. Byrd serves as treasurer at Southern Partners Fund, a social justice outfit.
Tom Burton has a LinkedIn profile here. He appears in the ACLU of NC Newsletter in April 2011 as a candidate for their board of directors. In 2012, he is listed as being on the board. He also was part of a Teach-in at Occupy Raleigh held in March of 2012. His teach in notes, paraphrased as posted on Occupy Raleigh:
Use twitter as a tool to connect with reporters. Tweet news releases. Reporters follow twitter feeds religiously.
How to get media attention/coverage:
1. Have a “take” – meaning have something meaningful to say about current news/current events and how they tie in with what Occupy is doing.
2. Look for opportunities to enter into the dialogue. Example: When gas prices hit highs, write a news release or tweet about alternative energy, Wall St. oil speculators, or what Exxon is hiding at http://www.exxonsecrets.org. Another way to get the message out is plan a creative action around news people are focusing on at the moment (for high gas prices example, hold demonstration against oil subsidies or promote biking to work).
3. Reporters more likely to follow you if you make it easy for them. Suggest communications work group start reaching out to local reporters to build relationships and become contacts that the reporter can dependably get in touch with for quick information. Watch the newscast, read the newspaper, look for the reporters who do activism/community-type stories, then email them, call them, ask them to coffee when you have a lead on a good story. (Aside: Media contacts should receive training. Occupy Raleigh has a former reporter (Chris C.) who can provide media training.)
4. Letters to editor are an under-used tool. If you read a bad news report, counter it with a letter to the editor, if the reporter got the spin wrong or missed a point, use the opportunity to educate on your cause and connect Occupy ideas to the current issues environment.
5. Visualize what kind of stories you want to see the reporters write (example: human interest features or a piece on the diversity of the group) and help research and build these stories. Pitch angles that promote Occupy and give the reporter the building blocks for the story. Idea: Write an editorial about what people are curious about: “Why is Occupy Still Here? Here’s Why We Haven’t Left Yet.”
Emma Akpan’s LinkedIn profile is here. Of note, she was involved in Get Out The Vote training at the Blueprint offices as listed through Lyberator via HKonJ.
UPDATE: The plot thickens. Via Civitas:
The WRAL reporter left out the very deep connections WRAL has with BlueprintNC through its owner Jim Goodmon, donations and former employees. The AJ Fletcher Foundation has given $35,000 to BlueprintNC and $380,000 to the NC Justice Center which initially housed BlueprintNC when it was formed (the foundations 990 IRS reports are not current so there may be more) . The Goodmon family which owns WRAL has 4 family members on the board of the Fletcher Foundation including Barbara the President and Jim the chairman of the board. The Executive Director was formerly the head of the NC center for Voter Education, one of the original members of BlueprintNC. In addition Chris Fitzsimon, former WRAL reporter, is head of the liberal NC Policy Watch, the original lead attack group in the Blueprint coalition. Fitzsimon is also provided free airtime on Goodmon owned WRAL-FM from which he launches daily attacks on political opponents. The Fletcher Foundation has been a long time funder of Policy Watch is now housed in the Justice Center.
It gets worse. Read the whole thing.
Update II: The web of associations tied to Blueprint NC is here.
Update III: Blueprint NC had Occupy Raleigh over to play:
Also, the Charlotte Observer is now reporting the leaked memo may jeopardize Blueprint NC’s finances:
A group that sent out a memo with tips on how to attack Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders exercised “bad judgment” that could jeopardize its funding, the director of a foundation that finances the group said Friday.
Leslie Winner, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, said she was “surprised and disappointed” by the actions of Blueprint North Carolina.
“(Z. Smith Reynolds) believes in robust debate on issues of public importance, (it) does not support attacking people,” Winner said. “We were disappointed to learn that Blueprint is advocating this strategy…
“We are taking this seriously. We are determining our options and our obligations. We will get to the bottom of it.”
The Foundation is providing $400,000 of Blueprint’s nearly $1 million budget, Winner said.
Leslie Winner is surprised? I doubt it. Disappointed? Only that they got caught.