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Meet the Koch brothers’ new North Carolina ‘policy shop for freedom’

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips
Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips

If you think conservative activist groups have had too much say over the ongoing rewriting of tax and economic policy in North Carolina, you won’t enjoy this next bit of news.

Americans for Prosperity, the political advocacy group bankrolled by billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch, apparently feels its work is far from finished in North Carolina.

The group on Tuesday held a rally in Raleigh featuring its national president, Tim Phillips, as it rolled out a new advocacy effort called NCJobsAgenda.com. The aim of the new initiative: to create a “one-stop policy shop for freedom,” according to the group’s Twitter account.

The new platform will compress the group’s activism into one in-depth weekly update offering “in-depth analysis of key issues and decision points,” communications director Joseph Kyzer said in a statement. It will centralize petitions, member contacts and talking points “for rapid issue activism.”

It’s not like the group has been silent when it comes to N.C. politics. It has stuck its nose into everything from taxation issues to energy policy reform to the question of whether key state hospital regulations should be tweaked.

Americans for Prosperity is retooling its activism at a time when there’s growing evidence of a deep schism within the Republican Party in Raleigh. The hard-right N.C. Senate and the more moderate N.C. House can’t seem to agree on key taxation and economic issues, and the newly approved House budget looks to be headed for a rough reception in the Senate.

Americans for Prosperity has called the House budget “fiscally irresponsible” for declining to eliminate tax subsidies for movie productions and green energy companies.

Judging from the noises the group is making, Americans for Prosperity is hoping to do a whole lot more than just complain when it comes to N.C. politics. That will come as unwelcome news to those of us who’d rather not have outsiders of any political stripe trying to hijack North Carolina’s political processes for their own particular ideological aims.

But it appears Americans for Prosperity isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to its website, it is looking to hire a deputy state director and at least one field director in North Carolina.

--Eric Frazier

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