Art Pope (artpope.com)
Art Pope (artpope.com)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory made several appointments to his administration on Thursday, including a controversial decision to name a conservative financial backer as his chief budget writer.

Pope, a multimillionaire Raleigh businessman, has funneled millions into conservative causes and was an enthusiastic backer of McCrory’s campaign.

Pope has also funded anti-gay organizations through his family foundation, the John W. Pope Foundation. The group gave over $1 million over several years to a variety of anti-gay groups.

Most of the money was given to the N.C. Family Policy Council, a lead proponent of the anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment voters approved on May 8, 2012. According to Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies, Pope’s foundation contributed $965,000 to that organization. The anti-gay marriage amendment was a primary legislative goal of the group since at least 2003.

Pope’s foundation also gave $70,000 to the state council’s national affiliate, the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, which has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Additionally, the foundation gave $12,500 to Christian Leadership Ministries, now known as “Faculty Commons,” an offshoot of Campus Crusade for Christ, which identifies homosexuality as a sin and whose founder, Bill Bright, is also a co-founder of the right-wing, anti-gay legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.

Pope has said Kromm has misrepresented his foundation’s spending. In a radio interview with Kromm, Pope said the money was given to the N.C. Family Policy Council for operating expenses and to educate the public about the state’s lottery.

“[Kromm] wants to say that that money given to a nonprofit public-policy group’s going to be used in 2012 to support the anti-gay referendum, even though the money was given years ago and the Family Policy Council cannot get involved in referendums,” Pope said at the time.

McCrory also appointed Winston-Salem businessman Lyons Gray, a former state House representative, to head the state’s revenue department. While a member of the state House in 1996, Gray was a sponsor of the statutory “Defense of Marriage” act prohibiting same-sex marriages from being recognized in the state.

Susan Kluttz

An LGBT-friendly appointment was also made. McCrory tapped Susan Kluttz, a former Salisbury mayor and current city council member, to be secretary of the state’s cultural resources department. Kluttz has supported local LGBT efforts including the city’s PFLAG chapter and a local Pride festival. As mayor in 2011, Kluttz signed a public proclamation making the day of the festival as “LGBT Pride Day” in the city.

Other appointments made on Thursday included: Raleigh attorney and former federal prosecutor Kieran Shanahan to head the state’s public safety department, Charlotte lawyer Bob Stephens to serve as chief legal counsel and Chris Walker, a former Mitt Romney and Richard Burr spokesperson, to serve as communications director.

McCrory, who served as mayor of Charlotte for 14 years, made several appointments last week. A former Durham City Council member with an anti-gay voting record was tapped to serve as the governor-elect’s chief of staff.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

One reply on “McCrory appoints anti-gay funder Art Pope to oversee budget”

  1. This is the Bible belt. While he was mayor I felt McCrory only tolerated gays enough to secure their donations or their votes. He is just another Southern politician indebted to cronies that have manipulated our state legislature for years. If gays thought he would be an advocate for them as governor, they were wrong.

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