LGBT PAC Dark Money Ties Boosted Cooper, Stein

An LGBT PAC that took donations from Hollywood producer and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein gave money to two organizations with political ties in North Carolina during 2016.

As reported by the News and Observer earlier this week, Harvey Weinstein donated $10,000 to the Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes PAC. According to the News and Observer, that LGBT PAC spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars campaigning for Cooper and against former Gov. Pat McCrory.”

From disclosure records, it appears that Josh Stein took in $1,814.75 in in-kind contributions during the 3Q of 2016 from the same PAC.

The News and Observer made sure to explain that PAC’s are not supposed to coordinate with political campaigns. But this report only scratched the surface.

Digging Deeper: LGBT PAC Spending

According to the Federal Elections Commission, the Human Rights Campaign’s PAC spent $2,335,439.47 during 2015-16.

Notable expenditures included $318,472 in support of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. The LGBT PAC also spent $252,189.90 opposing Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

In 2016, the Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes PAC had several high-level donors.

  • Harvey Weinstein $10,000.000 (Hollywood Producer)
  • Paul Alan Boskind $66,000.000 (Deer Oaks EAP Serv / CEO)
  • Ray Cockrum $125,000.000 (Knight Blanc, LLC / Business Owner)
  • Seth MacFarlane $200,000.00 (Hollywood filmmaker, Creator of Family Guy)
  • Priorities Action USA $500,000.00 (Largest Democrat Party Super PAC in the U.S.)

Priorities Action USA also dropped $25,000 into the democrat run America Votes Action Fund. While not active in NC races, American Votes Action spent over $162,000 on Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold who was upset by Republican Ron Johnson, effectively killing Democrat chances for re-taking the Senate.

LGBT PAC: Dark Money Ties In NC

Cash - Money - LGBT PACOf interest in the FEC’s 2016 disbursement list made by the Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes PAC, were two entities in North Carolina: A Better North Carolina and Make North Carolina First.

A Better North Carolina received $100,000 from the Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes PAC.

Better North Carolina appears to be inactive, according to records at the NC State Board of Elections. Organizational documents on file list Raleigh Attorney, Michael Weisel and Michael Schierbeek.

Both A Better North Carolina and Make North Carolina First list Raleigh attorney Michael Weisel as their treasurer or as a board member. Both Weisel and Schierbeek appear either as registrants or board member of multiple entities registered at the North Carolina Secretary of State or with the NC State Board of Elections. One such example, as reported by WRAL, is North Carolina Citizens for Progress.

Weisel is the registered agent of no less than 35 organizations and non-profits. The majority of which are left-leaning and tied to PACS.

Organizations listing Weisel as the registrant include LEAD NC, NC Futures Action Fund, Our Schools First, Real Facts NC, Coalition to Protect Judicial Independence, Common Sense Matters, and North Carolina Families First. Several of the entities, non-profits and LLC’s registered by Weisel have ties back to the far left non-profit, Progress NC.

Make North Carolina First received $25,000 from the Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes PAC.

The organization was one of two top donors to the Color For Change PAC in 2016. Make North Carolina First gave the PAC around $202,000. The other top donor to Color for Change was George Soros, with $25,000.

Color for Change PAC then turned around and spent $272,345 in North Carolina races that same year. Over $210,000 of that money was spent in support of Mike Morgan, who was challenging NC Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds.

Make North Carolina First was also heavily involved in Ad buys attacking NC Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds, who was ousted in the 2016 cycle.

“Far more troubling, Bannon said, is the fact that the source of money behind ads both praising and tearing down Edmunds is unknown aside from links to vaguely partisan groups. For example, the document trail connected to N.C. Families First, which aired “The Snake” ad critical of Edmunds’ opinion in a redistricting case, received at least $1 million from another nonprofit called Make North Carolina First. That second group’s board includes real estate developer Adam Abram and businessman Dean Debnam, both frequent Democratic donors, and Jay Reiff, a political operative who has worked for a number of Democratic figures, including former Gov. Mike Easley.” – WRAL 10/28/16

Organizational documents on file with the NC Secretary of State list board members as Adam Abram, Chairman of investing outfit, the James River Group. Also on the board are Dean Debnam, founder of Public Policy Polling, Jay Reiff, former Gov. Easley’s campaign director, and Michael Weisel.

According to IRS filings for Make NC First, the group’s 2016 revenue was over $3.2 million dollars. That same 2016 filing showed they spent $2,599,384 on ‘education campaigns’ that included teacher pay and green-environmental issues.

Cooper and Stein Pivot to LGBT Social Issues

Just last week, Governor Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein made an attempt to re-open the bathroom war in North Carolina. The Governor issued an Executive Order which expands LGBT protections, which seems to duplicate Executive Order number 93 filed by his predecessor, Pat McCrory.

Meanwhile, AG Josh Stein entered into a ‘consent decree‘ with the ACLU and Lambda Legal, who are suing the state over the bathroom reset bill, House Bill 142.  Governor Cooper signed House Bill 142 into law earlier this year.

What the decree asks the court for is to rule that HB 142 can’t block transgender people from using any bathroom or locker room facilities that match their claimed ‘gender identity’. Stein’s move seeks to do an end run around the decision on the HB 142 case, which is expected next week.

Cooper also posted the news of his Executive Order to the website Medium. In his article, Cooper says that “after working with the business community and the LGBT advocacy community, I’m proud to act on our shared belief that people should not face discrimination or harassment because of who they are.”

American Lens reached out to the Governor’s office for clarification on this statement. No response was received by publication time.

This is not transparency, Governor.

American Lens has had difficulty in getting Governor Cooper’s office to respond to media request since January. Currently, our organization has five outstanding Freedom of Information Act requests which are over 180 days old.

Update: As of January 1, 2018, the Governor’s office has only responded to one of the five. Documents received were incomplete, with no catalog of items included, no explanation of redactions whatsoever and no explanation of what specific items were missing.

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:
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