Founded in 2010, Blueprint North Carolina (BNC) describes itself as a “strictly nonpartisan” alliance of public-policy, advocacy, and grassroots-organizing nonprofit groups “dedicated to achieving a better, fairer, healthier North Carolina through the development of an integrated communications and civic engagement strategy.” Its long-term goal is to “influence state policy in North Carolina so that residents of the state benefit from more progressive policies such as better access to health care, higher wages, more affordable housing, a safer, cleaner environment, and access to reproductive health services.” Ultimately, BNC seeks to tilt North Carolina, which was a key battleground state in 2008 and 2012, leftward so that it becomes permanently Democratic.
To advance these goals, BNC strives to develop “effective and prolific speakers and writers” capable of persuading the American public that “progressive ideas and values” can do more to advance “the common good” than the policies of “powerful and well-funded” conservatives motivated only by “narrow self-interest.” Rejecting what it describes as the conservative notion that “all problems arise from individual choices, and that the American way is ‘everyone for himself,’” BNC advocates a broad, publicly funded safety net to assist low-income people, whom the organization views as victims of capitalism’s inherent inequities. BNC’s support for wholesale wealth redistribution is reflected in its repeated calls for “equality,” “fairness,” “community,” and “shared prosperity.” BNC also advocates “voter-owned elections”—an oblique reference to the notion that Voter ID laws are designed to disenfranchise nonwhite minorities, who support Democrats in overwhelming numbers.
In early 2013, the Charlotte Observer revealed that BNC communications director Stephanie Bass had recently emailed, to partner nonprofits, a strategy memo authored by Jessica Laurenz, director of the North Carolina chapter of America Votes. Marked “CONFIDENTIAL,” this memo urged its recipients to promote opposition measures such as “crippling” and “eviscerat[ing]” the state’s Republican leaders; launching direct attacks on North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory “at every public event”; commissioning “private investigators” and a “staff of video trackers” to follow “every move” of key Republicans; exploiting tensions between various Republican leaders; and working closely with liberal/left state legislators on unspecified bills and strategy. Accompanying this memo was a set of documents with left-wing talking points and polling data.
The memo and supplemental documents, which were also distributed at BNC gatherings, sparked controversy because BNC’s status as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization explicitly prohibits the group “from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” Further, BNC’s incorporation document states: “No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation.”
In the aftermath of news reports about the memo and its accompanying documents, the North Carolina Republican Party filed two complaints against BNC. This prompted one of BNC’s major funders, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, to seek legal advice regarding whether or not it should continue to bankroll the organization if it had indeed violated its tax-exempt status by engaging in partisan politics.[
Listed as a network partner of the nonprofit activist coalition State Voices, BNC is also funded by the Babcock Foundation, the Bydale Foundation, George Soros‘s Open Society Institute, and the Triangle Community Foundation.
 In March 2013, University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter said, “When 501(c)(3)s lobby, they’re supposed to be focusing on specific issues. For me, the red flag [regarding BNC] is that there are no specific issues” addressed in the memo. Rather, the memo’s emphasis was focused heavily on trying to make Republicans look bad so they would lose their forthcoming elections.