RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory made several appointments to his administration on Thursday, including a controversial decision to name a conservative financial backer as his chief budget writer.
Pope, a multimillionaire Raleigh businessman, has funneled millions into conservative causes and was an enthusiastic backer of McCrory’s campaign.
Pope has also funded anti-gay organizations through his family foundation, the John W. Pope Foundation. The group gave over $1 million over several years to a variety of anti-gay groups.
Most of the money was given to the N.C. Family Policy Council, a lead proponent of the anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment voters approved on May 8, 2012. According to Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies, Pope’s foundation contributed $965,000 to that organization. The anti-gay marriage amendment was a primary legislative goal of the group since at least 2003.
Pope’s foundation also gave $70,000 to the state council’s national affiliate, the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, which has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Additionally, the foundation gave $12,500 to Christian Leadership Ministries, now known as “Faculty Commons,” an offshoot of Campus Crusade for Christ, which identifies homosexuality as a sin and whose founder, Bill Bright, is also a co-founder of the right-wing, anti-gay legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.
Pope has said Kromm has misrepresented his foundation’s spending. In a radio interview with Kromm, Pope said the money was given to the N.C. Family Policy Council for operating expenses and to educate the public about the state’s lottery.
“[Kromm] wants to say that that money given to a nonprofit public-policy group’s going to be used in 2012 to support the anti-gay referendum, even though the money was given years ago and the Family Policy Council cannot get involved in referendums,” Pope said at the time.
McCrory also appointed Winston-Salem businessman Lyons Gray, a former state House representative, to head the state’s revenue department. While a member of the state House in 1996, Gray was a sponsor of the statutory “Defense of Marriage” act prohibiting same-sex marriages from being recognized in the state.
An LGBT-friendly appointment was also made. McCrory tapped Susan Kluttz, a former Salisbury mayor and current city council member, to be secretary of the state’s cultural resources department. Kluttz has supported local LGBT efforts including the city’s PFLAG chapter and a local Pride festival. As mayor in 2011, Kluttz signed a public proclamation making the day of the festival as “LGBT Pride Day” in the city.
Other appointments made on Thursday included: Raleigh attorney and former federal prosecutor Kieran Shanahan to head the state’s public safety department, Charlotte lawyer Bob Stephens to serve as chief legal counsel and Chris Walker, a former Mitt Romney and Richard Burr spokesperson, to serve as communications director.
McCrory, who served as mayor of Charlotte for 14 years, made several appointments last week. A former Durham City Council member with an anti-gay voting record was tapped to serve as the governor-elect’s chief of staff.