Person

James Arthur “Art” Pope

Occupation(s):

Chairman of John William Pope Foundation

Chairman of Variety Wholesalers, Inc.

Former North Carolina state budget director

Former Minority Leader of the North Carolina House of Representatives

James Arthur “Art” Pope is a businessman and Republican politician who chairs the John William Pope Foundation. [1] He is also chairman of Variety Wholesalers, Inc., a private company that owns retail chains Roses and Maxway. [2]

Pope is a major donor to the North Carolina Republican Party and conservative advocacy groups in the state. [3] He has also served in state government, including as a former minority leader in the North Carolina House of Representatives and later as the state budget director under former Gov. Pat McCrory (R). [4] In 2020, Pope was appointed as a member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. [5]

Background

James Arthur Pope, better known as Art Pope, is the chairman of the John William Pope Foundation, a right-leaning philanthropic organization that donates to conservative-aligned projects. The foundation is named for Art Pope’s father, who founded the organization in 1986. [6]

Pope earned a BA with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1978. He received his JD from Duke University in 1981. [7]

Pope is a practicing lawyer, and he began his career at the firm of Wyrick, Robbins, Yates, and Ponton. [8]

Art Pope is also chairman of Variety Wholesalers, Inc., a private company that owns the retail chains Roses and Maxway. [9] The company employs a total of 9,000 workers at its headquarters in Henderson, North Carolina, and its 376 discount stores across 17 states. [10]

Pope lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. [11] He is married to Kathy Pope. They have a blended family of three adult children. [12]

Career in State Government

Pope was a special counsel to then-North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin (R) in 1985. [13]

Pope would be elected to four nonconsecutive terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives, serving from 1989 through 1992 and later from 1999 through 2002. [14] He rose to the position of House minority leader and later ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina. [15]

In January 2013, then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) appointed Pope as the state budget director. [16] As budget director, he tried to control spending and cut taxes but was met with significant resistance from the state’s legislature, particularly regarding education funding. He also pushed for defunding taxpayer-financed campaigns for judicial candidates. His critics said he had too much influence over the governor. [17]

In 2020, Republican leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly nominated Pope to serve on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. [18] The North Carolina State Senate voted 32-15 to confirm his nomination to the Board over the objection of many Democratic members who opposed his donations to conservative causes and candidates. [19]

In 2021, Pope joined former UNC President Tom Ross in calling for redistricting reform in the state for drawing up congressional and legislative maps. [20]

Giving

The John William Pope Foundation that Art Pope chairs has given more than $170 million to support public policy, education, arts, and humanitarian nonprofit groups. [21]

Education and Arts

Pope has donated millions to the University of North Carolina but has also been a vocal critic of the university for being a bastion of political correctness and for being wasteful with its dollars. [22]

He is a commissioner with myFutureNC. He has also been a member of the Hurricane Matthew Recovery Committee, the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions; a board member for Golden LEAF Foundation; and board members for BEST NC – NC Business Leaders for Education. [23]

Politics and Advocacy

In the 2010 and 2012 elections, Pope and his family members donated $500,000 to Republican Party candidates in North Carolina, elections that led to the first time since 1870 that the GOP controlled both the governorship and the state legislature. [24]

Pope’s family foundation has also donated substantial funds to conservative advocacy groups and think tanks in North Carolina. [25] Pope helped organize the North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian-aligned canvassing and activism group. [26]

The State Policy Network, a coalition of state-level think tanks, gave Pope the Thomas Roe Award in 2009. [27] Pope was named to the Inside Philanthropy’s 2022 list of “The Most Powerful Heirs in Philanthropy.” The left-leaning outlet noted that Pope has given millions to push North Carolina to the right. [28]

Board Memberships

Pope is on the board of directors for the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. He is the chairman of the board for the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. [29]

Previously he was on the boards of Americans for Prosperity, the John Locke Foundation, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Jesse Helms Center at Wingate College, the Boy Scouts of America Occoneechee Council, the Institute of Political Leadership, the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation, the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, and the Golden LEAF Foundation. [30]

References

  1. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  2. “Art Pope.” Board of Governors. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/campus_profiles/member.php?contact_id=8514 ^
  3. Gold, Matea. “In N.C., conservative donor Art Pope sits at heart of government he helped transform.” The Washington Post. July 19, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2022.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-nc-conservative-donor-art-pope-sits-at-heart-of-government-he-helped-transform/2014/07/19/eece18ec-0d22-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html ^
  4. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  5. Associated Press. “GOP Donor, Ex-Lawmaker Art Pope Elected To Join UNC board.” WUNC. June 25, 2020. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.wunc.org/education/2020-06-25/gop-donor-ex-lawmaker-art-pope-elected-to-join-unc-board ^
  6. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  7. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  8. “Art Pope.” Board of Governors. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/campus_profiles/member.php?contact_id=8514 ^
  9. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  10. “Art Pope.” Board of Governors. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/campus_profiles/member.php?contact_id=8514 ^
  11. “Our People.” Bradley Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.bradleyfdn.org/our-people/james-arthur-pope ^
  12. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  13. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  14. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  15. [1] Schofield, Rob. “Art Pope’s new gig at UNC.” NC Policy Watch. June 25, 2020. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2020/06/25/art-popes-new-gig-at-unc/#sthash.CiUckx2m.dpbs ^
  16. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  17. Gold, Matea. “In N.C., conservative donor Art Pope sits at heart of government he helped transform.” The Washington Post. July 19, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2022.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-nc-conservative-donor-art-pope-sits-at-heart-of-government-he-helped-transform/2014/07/19/eece18ec-0d22-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html ^
  18. Schofield, Rob. “Art Pope’s new gig at UNC.” NC Policy Watch. June 25, 2020. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2020/06/25/art-popes-new-gig-at-unc/#sthash.CiUckx2m.dpbs ^
  19. Associated Press. “GOP Donor, Ex-Lawmaker Art Pope Elected To Join UNC board.” WUNC. June 25, 2020. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.wunc.org/education/2020-06-25/gop-donor-ex-lawmaker-art-pope-elected-to-join-unc-board ^
  20. Specht, Paul. “GOP donor Art Pope, former UNC President Tom Ross encourage redistricting reform.” WRAL. September 29, 2021. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.wral.com/gop-donor-art-pope-former-unc-president-tom-ross-encourage-redistricting-reform/19901591/ ^
  21. “Art Pope.” Board of Governors. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/campus_profiles/member.php?contact_id=8514 ^
  22. [1] Gold, Matea. “In N.C., conservative donor Art Pope sits at heart of government he helped transform.” The Washington Post. July 19, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2022.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-nc-conservative-donor-art-pope-sits-at-heart-of-government-he-helped-transform/2014/07/19/eece18ec-0d22-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html ^
  23. [1] “Art Pope.” Board of Governors. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/campus_profiles/member.php?contact_id=8514 ^
  24. Gold, Matea. “In N.C., conservative donor Art Pope sits at heart of government he helped transform.” The Washington Post. July 19, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2022.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-nc-conservative-donor-art-pope-sits-at-heart-of-government-he-helped-transform/2014/07/19/eece18ec-0d22-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html ^
  25. Gold, Matea. “In N.C., conservative donor Art Pope sits at heart of government he helped transform.” The Washington Post. July 19, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2022.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-nc-conservative-donor-art-pope-sits-at-heart-of-government-he-helped-transform/2014/07/19/eece18ec-0d22-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html ^
  26. Gold, Matea. “In N.C., conservative donor Art Pope sits at heart of government he helped transform.” The Washington Post. July 19, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2022.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-nc-conservative-donor-art-pope-sits-at-heart-of-government-he-helped-transform/2014/07/19/eece18ec-0d22-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html ^
  27. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  28.  Callahan, David. “The Most Powerful Heirs in Philanthropy.” Inside Philanthropy. January 19, 2022. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2022/1/19/the-most-powerful-heirs-in-philanthropy ^
  29. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
  30. “James Arthur ‘Art’ Pope.” John William Pope Foundation. Accessed February 4, 2022. https://jwpf.org/team/james-arthur-art-pope/ ^
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