A front group for ultra-conservative Art Pope is jumping into new territory with the encouragement of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. It is using money from Pope’s business to run attack ads against Democratic leaders in the General Assembly. The 501(c)(4) group, called Civitas Action, has the same executive director, office, and dominating financial backer (i.e., Pope) as its 501(c)(3) nonprofit sister, the John W. Pope Civitas Institute. You may recognize that name; it’s the outfit that regularly sponsors polls on partisan issues that the News & Observer publishes as unbiased public opinion surveys. Art Pope and his various conduits are gearing up for considerably more political spending in the final weeks of the election, according to the Civitas director. It’s worth asking: is Pope’s business treating its donation to the (c)(4)/Civitas as a tax-deductible expense; i.e., is it lowering its tax bill while it buys $265,000 worth of “education” – for a net cost of less than $175,000?