Art Pope is denying being the architect of the new Wake County school board majority and Thomas Farr is saying he advised against sending out controversial postcards in the 1990 U.S. Senate campaign.
As noted in today's article, Pope said "to say I was the architect was overstated.” He's referring to an Oct. 7 e-mail message from Wake GOP finance chair Marc Scruggs in which he tells school board member Ron Margiotta that they followed Pope's plan in the election.
Pope says he raised money for the school board candidates and gave advice to Wake GOP Chairman Claude Pope, his distant cousin. But he says that was all he did during the campaign.
Pope also says he's not directing the new board's actions.
Pope says he hardly knows Margiotta and doesn't recall having contacted the board members since the election. Pope says he has not given them advice on what to do.
But Pope said he's pleased by what the new board has done so far, dismissing the allegations of resegregation from critics as "deliberately false and malicious."
"It's nice to see candidates, once elected, trying to deliver on their platforms," Pope said. "They're trying to do it in an orderly fashion."
Pope took to task the column last week from Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of the liberal N.C. Policy Watch, that said "it’s not hard to see the influence of Art Pope and the groups he funds on the new board’s operations."
Pope questioned why people don't mention that N.C. Policy Watch is largely funded by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. Pope pointed out that Capitol Broadcasting CEO Jim Goodmon is chairman of the board of the foundation, which is named after Goodmon's grandfather.
State Rep. Rosa Gill, a Raleigh Democrat and former Wake school board member, said someone has to be directing the new majority. She said the new members don't have much political experience to take the steps they're now embarking on.
“Somebody is directing their actions,” Gill said in the article. “Who that someone is, I don’t know. His name [Art Pope] keeps coming up.”
As for Farr, he said he hadn't been involved in creating postcards that U.S. Justice Department officials said were designed to intimidate black voters in Jesse Helms' 1990 campaign. He said that he advised against sending the postcards after he learned about them.
A Justice Department complaint described Farr as a participant in meetings about the mailing and said that had been involved in earlier "ballot security" efforts.
Carter Wrenn, Helms' chief political strategist, said Farr shouldn't be held responsible for the mailing. Wrenn took responsibility for the mailing, calling it a "mistake."