Wander onto the pages of NCPoliticalBeat.com and you could be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled upon a new independent source for political news in North Carolina. Indeed several people whose opinion I trust follow the site via Facebook and Twitter. The site itself, in its FAQ section posts this Q&A:
Q: Is NC Political Beat affiliated with a party?
A: No. NCPB is a non-partisan news source and is in no way affiliated with any party, electioneering organization, or non-profit.
Yet a scratch of the surface reveals that the website is registered to the Battleground Group, a GOP political consulting firm based in Florida which boasts of being at the center of the 2010 $1.2 million campaign by NC Republicans to retake the NC House. Money, and truth, were no obstacle.
The byline of the Battleground Group is “Defeating the Enemy at Every Turn”. NCPoliticalBeat is apparently one of those turns, set up in July 2010. In August and September 2010 several posts were authored by then Battleground employee Dominic Palvisak also listed as administrative and technical contact for the site in domain records. These posts were mostly links to polls by the conservative Civitas Institute and Republican consultants Carolina Strategy Group. Palvisak currently serves as a legislative assistant for Virginia State House Delegate Mark Dudenhefer, on whose campaign he served as consultant. These articles are the only content that seems remotely original and none were posted after the November elections. Since then the content on the site has been mostly filtered feeds of stories from other sources. The link for advertising on the site leads by referral to the Battleground Group website.
The site claims:
NCPoliticalBeat.com, or NCPB, was formed as a one-stop shop for all political headlines in the state of North Carolina.
Of course it was. Why would a Republican consulting group which got almost $1 million from the NC GOP in 2010 want you to go anywhere else?