Art Pope

James Arthur “Art” Pope


  • J.D., Duke University School of Law (1981). [1]
  • B.A., Political Science, University of North Carolina (1978). [1]


Art Pope is the president and vice-chairman of the board of directors for Variety Wholesalers Inc. and president and chairman of the John William Pope Foundation.

Pope has closed ties to the Koch Brothers. According to one article, Pope is “one of the most trusted members of the Koch’s elite circle: He has been a regular invitee to the Koch’s secretive, semiannual gathering of the major right-wing donors and activists.” He is also a “valuable junior partner in many key Koch operations.” [2]

He is also the director of the right-wing Americans for Prosperity, as well as a member of the board of directors for the John Locke Foundation and past board member of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. [3]

The John Williams Pope Foundation is a key funder of Americans for Prosperity which in turn is one of the principal organizers of the Tea Party Patriots. [4]

Pope also backs the Civitas Institute and its sister group Civitas Action. From 2005 to 2009 the Pope Foundation accounted for 99 percent of the Institute’s income. Pope was a founder of Civitas Action, a group that campaigns for climate change skeptics.

Stance on Climate Change

“I think that climate change and global warming represent important public policy and scientific debates. I think the John Locke Foundation is playing an important role in that.” [5]

Key Quotes

“I will not be shut up.” [6]

Key Deeds

July 2011–July, 2012

According to a Facing South/Institute for Southern Studies analysis of annual tax filing from the John William Pope Foundation, Pope’s family fund gave almost $5.7 million from July 2011 through June 2012 to conservative think tanks and advocacy groups working to deny global warming is happening, and driven at least in part by human activities. That represents 61 percent of total giving for the year by the Pope Foundation. [16]

Facing South offers the following summary (click for larger image):


According to the Institute for Southern Studies, Art Pope is an ally to the Koch Brothers in funding the network of climate change skepticism. From 1997 to 2008 the Koch’s gave $48.5 million to organizations denying climate change. During the same time period, Pope contributed $24.1 million. [7], [8]

A 2010 Facing South / Institute for Southern Studies analysis of tax records found that a foundation chaired by Art Pope supplies about 90 percent of the income of leading conservative nonprofits in North Carolina. [9]

As of June 30, 2010, the Pope Foundation had nearly $136.8 million in assets. It has made over $89 million in grants since 1986, including over $9 million in grants made during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.

A full list of the John William Pope Foundation’s contributions is available in public tax forms: (PDF format ending in tax year)

Pope not only funds conservative non-profits but also influences state-level political elections, The New Yorker found. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue commented that “The Republican agenda in North Carolina is really Art Pope’s agenda. He sets it, he funds it, and he directs the efforts to achieve it. The candidates are just fronting for him. There are so many people in North Carolina beholden to Art Pope—it undermines the democratic process.” [10]

October 2010

Civitas Action, a group which Pope founded and funds, spent $5,750 on mailers targeting North Carolina House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate leader Marc Basnight, Democrats who have been supportive of efforts to address global warming.

The effort was described by The Herald Sun as an effort by Pope to influence the legislative elections. [11]



Art Pope does not appear to have published any significant works.


  1. About Art Pope,” Art Pope: The Official Site. Accessed August 14, 2012.
  2. Chris Kromm. “The Art Pope empire: Media outlets, think tanks and election machines,” Indy Week, March 9, 2011.
  3. Americans For Prosperity Directors,” Americans for Prosperity. Archived March 30, 2011. WebCite URL:
  4. Lee Fang. “Spontaneous Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests,” ThinkProgress, April 9, 2009.
  5. Sue Sturgis. “Pope-backed climate cranks target North Carolina renewable energy law,” Indy Week, March 9, 2011.
  6. Dems boycott Pope’s stores to protest tactics,” News Observer, October 28, 2010. Archived April 28, 2012. 
  7. Sue Sturgis. “A Pope of climate denial,” FacingSouth, October 26, 2010.
  8. Chris Kromm. “Blessed to have a Pope,” FacingSouth, October 14, 2010.
  9. Chris Kromm. “North Carolina’s Art Pope: Staying in control,” FacingSouth, October 19, 2010.
  10. Jane Mayer. “State for Sale,” The New Yorker, October 10, 2011.
  11. Gary D. Robertson. “Conservative Civitas Action targets two of state’s top Democratic leaders,” The Herald Sun, June, 2010. Archived October 5, 2012. WebCite URL
  12. Board and Staff,” John William Pope Foundation. Archived January 31, 2016.  WebCite URL
  13. John Locke Foundation Board of Directors,” John Locke Foundation. Accessed August 14, 2012.
  14. Who We Are,” Archived December 12, 2001.
  15. “Board of Directors,” NC Institute for Constitutional Law. Archived September 26, 2008.
  16. Art Pope still funding climate disinformation,” FacingSouth, February 2013. Archived March 22, 2016. WebCite URL

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