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Right-leaning North Carolina think tanks merging

Two think tanks — both nurtured and sustained financially over the years by the family of longtime conservative political donor Art Pope — are merging.

The John Locke Foundation and Civitas Institute announced on Thursday that they’ll unite under the Locke Foundation name starting Jan. 1. The John Locke Foundation began in 1990, while Civitas started in 2005.

Amy Cooke will remain the Locke Foundation’s CEO and publisher of the Carolina Journal news website and newspaper. Civitas Institute head Donald Bryson will become foundation president and its chief strategy officer.

“We have created an unmatched powerhouse for economic opportunity and conservative values in North Carolina and in the Southeast,” Cooke said in a news release.

Both groups have received funds routinely from the John William Pope Foundation, of which Art Pope is chairman. Art Pope leads Variety Wholesalers Inc., which operates Roses and Maxway discount retail stores. Pope served in the state legislature and was then-Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director.

Civitas Action, a political education arm of Civitas Institute, will remain in place as a separate sister organization, the release said.

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