Something’s rotten in North Carolina

Recently, the University of North Carolina paid a Confederate group to take possession of a Confederate monument, a deal that stank like a garbage dump. They paid $2.6 million to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a shady low-rent outfit of good ol’ boys who existed only to promote racism, which made it even stankier. Now the SCV has been further exposed — they’re a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization which is prohibited from meddling in politics, and guess what they’ve been doing? Meddling in politics, of course.

For years, the pro-Confederate group that the UNC System dealt $2.6 million has been violating federal tax laws, operating a political action committee in violation of its tax-exempt status and facilitating political donations through illegal means, according to numerous individual first-hand accounts, a slew of internal communications provided to The Daily Tar Heel and multiple expert legal opinions.

The North Carolina Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Inc. struck a pair of backdoor deals last November with UNC System Board of Governors members. A predetermined lawsuit and settlement gave the group Silent Sam and $2.5 million in UNC System money for the Confederate monument’s “preservation and benefit.” A week previous, the system paid $74,999 to the SCV for an agreement to limit its display of Confederate symbolism on UNC System property.

When I say low-rent, I mean it. SCV has $100 membership dues, and their process is rather irregular. The dues are paid to an individual who cashes the checks and doles out payments with little in the way of documentation.

“We tend to have the cigar box in the gun safe approach,” Starnes wrote. “So the checks are made out to the Captain, ie, Bill Starnes, so they can be cashed.”

They’ve got enough members that the organization’s income gets up into the range of tens of thousands of dollars, and UNC just plopped a couple of million dollars into Bill Starnes’ lap. This is nuts. It represents considerable fiduciary irresponsibility on the part of UNC — why are they paying all this money out to a fringe group with little financial oversight? — and suggests that there’s an even deeper layer of corruption in the UNC system that hasn’t been fully exposed yet.

I can’t even imagine my university dropping a few mil on some radical group to perform a dubious “service” for us. Heads would roll. Our students would rage at the wasteful use of their tuition dollars.


  1. says

    Our students would rage at the wasteful use of their tuition dollars.

    Maybe your students aren’t the kind who want to attend UNC.
    There’s a lot of overlap, if you go back to the 1950s, between those confederacy-loving groups and the KKK. It’s culture, not racism, though.

  2. johnson catman says

    Our students would rage at the wasteful use of their tuition dollars.

    Maybe your students aren’t the kind who want to attend UNC.

    Plenty of students were thoroughly outraged at the payout. However, the UNC Board of Governors has been infiltrated by full-on right wing conservatives. UNC has traditionally been a very liberal university, but the republicans in Raleigh have done their best to punish that.
    BTW, that picture at the top of the post is the result of a student protest where Silent Sam was pulled down from its pedestal. It has not been back to the campus since then.

  3. whheydt says

    I feel about the SCV the way my sisters felt about the DAR. Eligible to join? Yes. Willing to do so? HELL NO.

  4. stwriley says

    @johnson catman

    You have that absolutely correct. The UNC Chapel Hill student body and faculty are by and large very liberal and have led the protests to get rid of Silent Sam and keep it gone. But the UNC Board of Governors are appointed by the state legislature (without even veto power from anyone else, like the Governor or the state BoE) and the body has been packed with rightwing ideologues and political cronies (which with our current legislature amounts to the same thing.) They have been involved in more than one instance of shady dealing, of which the deal with the SCV is just the latest and worst. Hopefully, we will have a Democratic legislature after the 2020 elections (we have new, much less gerrymandered legislative maps) and will be able to send the rightwingers packing from the UNC BoG.

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    University of North Carolina paid paid $2.6 million to the Sons of Confederate Veterans (a Confederate group) to take possession of a Confederate monument

    That is so upside-down. I’d think the “veterans” would be buying it from the University, not getting paid by them,
    to protect it from (hypothetical) Yankees splashing it with red paint simulating blood,
    they would argue.

    This make no sense.

  6. dangerousbeans says

    A week previous, the system paid $74,999 to the SCV for an agreement to limit its display of Confederate symbolism on UNC System property.

    That’s an interesting scam: pay us money or we’ll have a bunch of racists turn up and be racist on your property. If you try to block us we’ll scream about freeze peach and organise even more racists, probably also fox news.

  7. chrislawson says


    Unfortunately it makes perfect sense. Right wing apparatchiks on the UNC Board of Governers have diverted $2.6 million intended for tertiary education into the coffers of an unaccountable racist hate group. Morally indefensible, strategically brilliant. Just like they wanted.

  8. says

    @7 bobphillips:

    I wish someone would rent a bulldozer for one of these statue topplings. After it’s pulled down the bulldozer could flatten it. Hell, use the bulldozer to pull it down and kill two birds with one stone.

  9. ikanreed says

    As others have noted, this is emblematic of the complete destruction of democracy in north carolina, by a hypercorrupt republican party who has gerrymandered a permanent super majority even if the populace at large votes democrat, and used their political power to load hyperpartisans into every management role of the US system, with the somewhat express goal of enforcing a conservative ideology top-down on the universities in the state.

    The poison runs deep, and short of literal revolution, I can’t see actually fixing this problem.

    The handouts of tax money to conservative activist organizations(particularly super racist ones) is par for course at best. NC isn’t dying but the second derivative looks real bad.

  10. drmarcushill says

    @10 Robert Westbrook:
    Unfortunately, I suspect running a statue over with a bulldozer would, whilst destroying the statue, also so significant damage to the surface it was on, giving “evidence” that the people pulling the symbols of racism down are “vandals”.