Americans love mob movies, they’re right up there with hamburgers and football on our list of favorite things, and apparently Art Pope is no different. I make this assumption after seeing the recent spate of attacks by the Civitas Institute on everyone from the head of the State Board of Elections, to the ED of Democracy NC to the Moral Monday protesters, when I realized that this entire playbook came straight out of ‘The Godfather’.
Art Pope has set himself up as Don Corleone, the puppet master, pulling the strings but never getting his hands dirty. John Hood is Tom Hagan, the consigliere, clean cut and well spoken, making calm, rational offers for the Boss. Then there’s Civitas itself, as the Family, the organization created to turn the Don’s will into action. It’s not really that much of a stretch when you think about it, Art Pope as the head of a shadowy network of public influence controlling a web of political and business connections.
Take as an example Civitas’ publishing online the personal information of all of the Moral Monday protesters that have been arrested. This is pure payback against those who’ve dissented and a subtle threat to those who might. “So, I hear you’re thinking about protesting the legislature… It’d be a shame if you lost that job because your employer saw your arrest record online.” Civitas claims the list is ‘informational’ but in reality it’s intimidation pure and simple. What about the recent calls by Civitas to every investigative organization in state government to examine the former head of the State Board of Elections and Democracy NC? Well that’s the end of the movie; he’s eliminating the heads of the other families, taking down anyone who can stand in his way. First to go was Sean Kosofsky, now its Bob Hall and Gary Bartlett, Civitas and Pope are trying to remove or intimidate anyone who would question their agenda.
Now none of what Civitas is doing is illegal. My point is that it’s disturbing, and they’re using Mafia style tactics to do it. I personally can’t say how far Civitas is willing to go in their campaign of intimidation, but let’s just hope Art Pope doesn’t attend any christenings any time soon.