Non-profit

Democracy North Carolina

Website:

www.democracy-nc.org

Location:

DURHAM, NC

Tax ID:

56-2271150

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $1,558,118
Expenses: $1,534,986
Assets: $734,750

Formation:

1991 (as Democracy South)

Type:

Anti-Voter Integrity Advocacy Group

Member of:

Blueprint NC (since 2006)

Executive Director:

Thomas Lopez

Democracy North Carolina (or Democracy NC) is a left-of-center group based in Durham, North Carolina that lobbies against voter integrity measures and for campaign speech restrictions. It is often portrayed as a neutral organization but it has received funding from the Reynolds-family-related left-wing foundations [1] and out-of-state liberals, most prominently George Soros. [2]

The group is a member of Blueprint NC, an umbrella coalition of left-of-center organizations that vows to “eviscerate, mitigate, litigate, cogitate and agitate” against the state’s conservatives. [3]

Overview

Democracy North Carolina is an organization that works with other left-wing groups to undermine voter integrity measures in North Carolina. It also coordinates with other groups to promote political speech restrictions and government financing of elections.

The group first began life as a project of the left-wing Institute for Southern Studies. The project, known as Democracy South, began in 1991 and was led by Bob Hall, a former employee of the Institute. [4] Hall was executive director of Democracy NC from its founding until his retirement in 2018. [5]

The organization is based in Durham, North Carolina.

Issues

Voter Integrity

Democracy NC has emerged as an opponent of voter integrity measures such as requiring a state-issued ID to vote. The group says it will oppose any voter ID law because it could result in just one honest voter not being able to cast a ballot. [6]

In 2014, the group sent two of its interns to try and get the free voter IDs that were being issued at the time by the state. Alyssa Davis and Evelyn Bradley attended college in North Carolina as out-of-state students. Both women claimed they could not get their free IDs. The students were denied voter IDs was because they would not give up their out-of-state drivers’ licenses. [7]

In December 2015, Democracy NC and the ACLU of North Carolina sued the State Board of Elections alleging that it was not in compliance with “motor voter” laws. The state was able to release data quickly to prove it was in compliance. [8]

Campaign Speech

Democracy NC is an advocate of both government-funded political campaigns and suppression of campaign speech. In 2013, the right-of-center Civitas Institute alleged that then-Democracy NC executive director Bob Hall controlled North Carolina’s system of government-funded elections. Hall and his organization had such an outsized role in the process that he was able to get State Board of Elections executive director Gary Bartlett to sign a recommendation letter that was able to help Democracy NC raise money. [9]

The ghost-written letter said, “Democracy North Carolina has been involved from the beginning in the legislation that led to the state’s pioneering judicial public financing program, and they have been involved in every step of the new law’s implementation, from the appointment of the Public Campaign Fund’s Advisory Council to the promotion of the $3 check-off that is the chief source of the program’s funding.”[10]

In addition to exercising control of the state’s public financing system, Democracy NC has also exercised control over supposedly neutral voter guides mailed by the state. In 2004, Hall and Bartlett exchanged over 600 emails related to the design and wording of the voter guides. [11]

In 2008, Hall sent an email to State Board of Elections general counsel Don Wright, changing the wording of two candidates’ personal statements. Those personal statements were supposed to be in the candidates’ own words. [12]

Ballot Harvesting

In 2018, the North Carolina 9th Congressional district race was not certified due to alleged voter fraud in Bladen and Robeson Counties. Allegedly, a contractor for Republican candidate Mark Harris was involved in “ballot harvesting”—collecting absentee ballots from voters and possibly altering them—which is illegal in North Carolina. Democracy NC, along with the NC Black Alliance, Progress North Carolina, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and the state NAACP led protests and delivered a petition to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Raleigh calling for an investigation. [13]

In 2016, Republican Governor Pat McCrory had raised similar questions over those same counties in his narrow defeat that year. Democracy NC, in a 2017 report called McCrory’s allegations “flimsy,” and even alleged that he was engaged in a conspiracy theory. [14]

2018 Elections

Democracy NC held training for people to get involved in its voter protection initiative with the Duke Law School chapter of the left-wing American Constitution Society. [15] It also held an event with the League of Women Voters NC about constitutional amendments on the ballot. [16]

Blueprint NC

Democracy NC is a founding member of Blueprint NC. [17] Blueprint NC is a left-wing umbrella organization founded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in 2006 to help progressive groups in North Carolina coordinate their messaging. [18] Democracy NC emerged as foot soldiers for the project, when it even coordinated an attack with the State Board of Elections to attack the Republican-controlled legislature in 2012 over a budget issue. [19]

Leadership

Thomas Lopez is the current executive director of Democracy NC and he took over in January 2018. Before Lopez went to Democracy NC, he was the counsel to the Democracy Program of the left-wing Brennan Center for Justice in New York City. Before Lopez worked at the Brennan Center, he worked for the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center. Lopez graduated from Duke University and Yale Law School. [20]

Adrienne Kelly serves as the operations director. Before joining the group she was chief operations officer for a non-profit in the education industry. [21]

Isela Gutierrez is the research and policy director. She has been involved with left-wing activism since 1997. Previously, she worked with the ACLU of Washington State. [22]

Jen Jones is the director of communications and digital strategy. She was the previous communications director of Equality NC. Jones has also worked for League of Women Voters NC and NARAL Pro-Choice NC. [23]

The chair of the board of directors is Janet Colm, who is a former Planned Parenthood of Central NC CEO. Ivanna Gonzalez, a project coordinator for Blueprint NC; Ivan Parra, the executive director of the North Carolina Latino Coalition; and Louisa Warren, a senior policy adviser for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, also serve on the board. [24]

Financials

According to Democracy NC’s 2017 IRS filing (Form 990), the organization generated $2.8 million in revenue. It had $2.1 million in expenses. [25]

In 2017, it received $975,000 from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. [26] It received $15,000 from the Park Foundation. [27] It received $200,000 from the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust. [28] It received $25,000 from the Rockefeller Family Fund. [29] It received $100,000 from the Educational Foundation of America. [30] It received $125,000 from NEO Philanthropy, Inc. [31]It received $50,000 from the Warner-Craven Foundation. [32] It received $275,000 from Wellspring Advisors, LLC. [33]

In addition to support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, it has received support from organizations founded by liberal billionaire George Soros. The Soros organizations have given Democracy NC over $300,000 in the past. [34] It has also received support from the Triangle Community Foundation, which has given it over $450,000 since 2004. [35]

The organization is expected to increase its financial ties to national organizations under its new executive director. [36]

References

  1. Democracy North Carolina, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Schedule B Part I https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf
  2. Myrick, Susan. 2017. “Democracy NC Hires New Leader”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2017/democracy-nc-hires-new-leader/.
  3. Quoted in WorkPlaceReport. “Blueprint NC: How A Shadowy Left-Wing Hydra Plans A Targeted Attack On NC Republicans.” RedState. February 22, 2013. Accessed January 29, 2019. https://www.redstate.com/laborunionreport/2013/02/22/blueprint-nc-how-a-shadowy-left-wing-hydra-plans-a-targeted-attack-on-nc-republicans/.
  4. “Democracy NC”. 2019. Mapping The Left. Accessed January 26. https://www.mappingtheleft.com/group/democracy-nc/.
  5. Myrick, Susan. 2017. “Democracy NC Hires New Leader”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2017/democracy-nc-hires-new-leader/.
  6. Woolverton, Paul. 2018. “Voter ID In North Carolina: Why Is This A Big Deal?”. Fayetteville Observer. https://www.fayobserver.com/news/20180818/voter-id-in-north-carolina-why-is-this-big-deal.
  7. Young, Matthew. 2014. “Drivers Test? Democracy NC Flunks”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2014/stunt-fails-id-real-problem/.
  8. “Democracy NC”. 2019. Mapping The Left. Accessed January 26. https://www.mappingtheleft.com/group/democracy-nc/.
  9. Myrick, Susan. 2013. “Guiding The NC Elections Board – To The Left”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2013/guiding-ncsbe-left/.
  10. Myrick, Susan. 2013. “Guiding The NC Elections Board – To The Left”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2013/guiding-ncsbe-left/.
  11. Myrick, Susan. 2013. “Guiding The NC Elections Board – To The Left”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2013/guiding-ncsbe-left/.
  12. Myrick, Susan. 2013. “Guiding The NC Elections Board – To The Left”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2013/guiding-ncsbe-left
  13. Kiser, Sarah. 2019. ““Stop Stealing Votes”: Protesters In Raleigh Demand Action In The Bladen County Election Fraud Investigation”. INDY Week. https://indyweek.com/news/northcarolina/protesters-bladen-county-election-fraud/.
  14. Byers, Leah. 2018. “What We Know About NC09 – And What We Should’ve Seen Coming.”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2018/know-nc09-shouldve-seen-coming/.
  15. “Voter Protection Training With Democracy North Carolina”. 2018. American Constitution Society. https://www.acslaw.org/event/voter-protection-training-with-democracy-north-carolina/.
  16. Walter, Rebecca. 2018. “League Of Women Voters Event Discusses Ballot Amendments”. Hendersonville Times-News. https://www.blueridgenow.com/news/20180920/league-of-women-voters-event-discusses-ballot-amendments.
  17. “Democracy NC”. 2019. Mapping The Left. Accessed January 26. https://www.mappingtheleft.com/group/democracy-nc/.
  18. “Blueprint NC”. 2019. Mapping The Left. Accessed January 26. https://www.mappingtheleft.com/network/blueprint-nc/.
  19. Myrick, Susan. 2012. “Lobbyist Bob Hall And Gary Bartlett Planned Attack On Republican Legislature”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2012/lobbyist-bob-hall-and-gary-bartlett-planned-attack-on-republican-legislature/.
  20. “Staff”. 2019. Democracy NC. Accessed January 26. https://democracync.org/about-us/staff/.
  21. “Staff”. 2019. Democracy NC. Accessed January 26. https://democracync.org/about-us/staff/.
  22. “Staff”. 2019. Democracy NC. Accessed January 26. https://democracync.org/about-us/staff/.
  23. “Staff”. 2019. Democracy NC. Accessed January 26. https://democracync.org/about-us/staff/.
  24. “Board Of Directors”. 2019. Democracy NC. Accessed January 26. https://democracync.org/about-us/board/.
  25. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf.
  26. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf.
  27. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf.
  28. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf.
  29. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf.
  30. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf.
  31. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf.
  32. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf.
  33. 2017 Form 990. 2019. Ebook. Durham, North Carolina: Democracy North Carolina. https://democracync.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2017-990-Report.pdf
  34. Myrick, Susan. 2017. “Democracy NC Hires New Leader”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2017/democracy-nc-hires-new-leader/.
  35. Myrick, Susan. 2017. “Democracy NC Hires New Leader”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2017/democracy-nc-hires-new-leader/.
  36. Myrick, Susan. 2017. “Democracy NC Hires New Leader”. Civitas Institute. https://www.nccivitas.org/2017/democracy-nc-hires-new-leader/.

Coalition Memberships

  1. Blueprint NC (Non-profit)
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 2001

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,558,118 $1,534,986 $734,750 $27,918 N $1,534,301 $0 $2,252 $198,883 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,847,709 $1,811,542 $714,844 $30,030 N $1,827,589 $0 $2,187 $159,516 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,126,679 $1,144,923 $718,176 $69,529 N $1,106,415 $0 $3,580 $151,421 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,280,086 $1,152,494 $756,880 $89,989 N $1,256,608 $0 $0 $86,926 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $850,674 $827,043 $642,122 $102,823 N $825,384 $0 $2,013 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Democracy North Carolina

    1821 GREEN STREET
    DURHAM, NC 27705-4185