Disclosure For Thee, But Not For Me

“eviscerate, mitigate, litigate, cogitate and agitate”

Blueprint NC partner, Progress NC, has been engaged in an ethics complaint against Governor Pat McCrory for some time now.  Most recently, Progress NC has continued piling on by making video mash-ups to target the Governor.

The group, led by Gerrick Brenner, has focused only the Governor and seems to be paying little attention to the legal counsel responsible for actually reviewing and filing the economic interest documents.  I asked Progress NC on Twitter about this, however, they have not yet replied:

Perhaps Mr. Brenner has been too distracted by his recent ‘targeting and messaging’ participation in the America Votes State Summit.  For the uninitiated, America votes is a very well-funded, very liberal outfit who has received vast amounts of money from the secretive group, Democracy Alliance.  ‘Dark money’ transparency, anyone?

In a recent blog post on the Progress NC site, Brenner asserts that the complaint should be made public in the interest of transparency. However, Brenner himself seemingly isn’t as interested in transparency when it involved Progress NC.

Flashback to 2012; emphasis added:

And conservatives backing McCrory have quietly suggested that more should be known about Progress NC, a 501(c)3, and Progress Action, a 501(c)4.

At WRAL-TV’s request, Gerrick Brenner, the executive director for both groups, sent along the IRS form 990 for both group. The 2011 form, the latest available, gives rough outline of their budgets and operations.

But neither the 990 for the 501(c)3, which cannot directly advocate in a political campaign, or the 501(c)4, which is allowed to speak more directly about candidates and issues, lists donors for the group.

“We follow the rules of the road and the letter of the law, which are ultimately set by Congress,” Brenner said. Neither group is required to disclose its donors. We asked him if he would voluntarily give a list of donors or top donors for either organization.

“We have donors of all shapes and sizes all across the state, who share progressive values about the value of funding our public universities and public schools, and smart investments like Research Triangle Park,” Brenner said. But he declined to list specific donors. 

It’s worth noting that the 501(c)4’s board includes Brad Thompson, a former Raleigh city council member and former staffer for Sen. John Edwards, and Dean Debnam, CEO of Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling. The group has served as a mouthpiece for N.C. Citizens for Progress, a 527 group that has aired commercials targeting McCrory

See Progress NC’s donor connections.

This is not the first time Progress NC has had transparency run-ins. Jump back to 2013, where Progress NC had some trouble following the law:

It appears that possibly Progress NC hasn’t been following the law with regards to donations made to the organization. The general gist here is that Progress NC apparently did not renew its solicitation license for non tax exempt status around mid-May of this year, yet has been receiving donations under the pretext the organization was compliant.

If true, who knows how many donors have been affected as the Progress NC website still claims donations made to them to be tax exempt. Progress NC’s donation page says the same. NC Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope has called on NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall to investigate.

If that weren’t enough, Progress NC was the group promoting and supporting the education protest group, AIM Higher NC.  Read: Progress NC Action Pushes Mystery Group Petition.

That ‘promoting and supporting’ included promotion of political candidates.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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