A new super PAC is planning a $320,000 advertising blitz next week for ten NC General Assembly candidates, all incumbents, nine Republicans and one Democrat. The Carolina Business Coalition Education Fund reports receiving $350,000 from the related Carolina Business Coalition, Inc. in May and reports spending $321,660 on electioneering communications for five House candidates and five Senate candidates planned for June 11th. The super PAC will spend $61,128 on Senator Neal Hunt’s re-election alone.
The Carolina Business Coalition, Inc., has been in existence since May of 2011 but publicly dormant until recently. Originally set up by Roger Knight, a campaign finance attorney with fingers in various right-wing pies, the organization switched the record of responsibility in April to Peter Barnes who filed paperwork for the Carolina Business Coalition Education Fund with both the IRS and the State Board of Elections on May 10th. Roger Knight serves as a director of the parent Carolina Business Coalition which is chaired by Allen Gant, President and CEO of Glen Raven, Inc. a major contributor to Real Jobs NC set up by Fred Eshelman, and for which Knight has served as Executive Director. In 2010, largely funded by the Republican State Leadership Committee, Real Jobs NC spent $1.6 million on state races, a big factor in the Republican takeover of the NC General Assembly.
Other directors of the Carolina Business Coalition include business executives like David Murdock of Dole Foods, Martin Holton of Reynolds American, and John Allison, former Chairman and CEO of BB&T. The group website features a quote from Fred Eshelman though he is not listed as a director. Allison also serves as a director of the Texas based Job Creators Alliance which appears destined to be the engine of a national superPAC. The Alliance features several other NC business executives like Fred Eshelman, Art Pope, John Kane, Jim Anthony and Steve Zelnack. Eshelman is also noted for setting up the national group Right Change with former State Rep Jeff Barnhart and State Sen Fletcher Hartsell.
Candidates and amounts spent on them by the Carolina Business Coalition are: Sen Warren Daniel, $19,053, Sen Jim Davis, $45,766, Sen Neal Hunt, $61,128, Sen Wes Meredith, $32,013, Sen Mike Walters, $3,087, Rep Bryan Holloway $46,467, Rep Jonathan Jordan, $16,470, Rep Tim Moffit, $45,766, Rep Tom Murry, $44,415, Rep Mike Stone, $7,497, all totaling $321,660. With the exception of the sum spent on Walters, these amounts are far in excess of the normal limit of $4,000 per candidate on regular PAC and individual spending. Sen Mike Walters, regarded as one of the most business friendly Senate Democrats, was appointed in 2009 to the Senate seat of David Weinstein who left to head the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
The NC super PAC flood is only beginning.