The Spoils

Conservative bagman Dallas Woodhouse, celebrating the night away

The guy in the Tillis paper fedora and shades—looking and acting like a caricature of an obnoxious frat boy in a 1980s college comedy—is Dallas Woodhouse, one of North Carolina’s most prominent Republican political operatives. The scene, captured by WNCN in Raleigh, was the Omni in uptown Charlotte as Thom Tillis closed in on victory in the U.S. Senate race.

Woodhouse spent eight years as the North Carolina director for Americans For Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ political advocacy group. He founded his own organization, Carolina Rising, in April “to further the principles of efficient, effective and limited government, support North Carolina’s continued recovery from the great recession and foster common sense government reforms that will expand opportunities for all North Carolinians to rise and thrive.”

What that’s meant in this year’s midterms is the ability to spend millions of dollars from undisclosed sources to help get Tillis elected. Like AFP, Carolina Rising is technically a 501(c)(4) educational nonprofit. Also like AFP, Carolina Rising is in reality a campaign organization. It spent $3.3 million late this campaign season on television ads, including a $1.5 million ad campaign starting in August designed to burnish Tillis’ and Gov. McCrory’s record on education. (Woodhouse himself says it was $4.7 million; I'm going with the OpenSecrets total.)

This was not, Woodhouse explained to WRAL’s Mark Binker, to be construed in any way as connected to a political campaign. “These are educational ads, and they are meant to inform the public,” he said. “You run them at this time because this is the time people are most focused on the issues.”

And if Carolina Rising’s ads weren’t political, I guess the display captured on video above wasn’t a drunken victory celebration.

Thanks so much, Citizens United.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest