Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Fred Eshelman, the self-made millionaire-many-times-over who founded global life sciences services firm Pharmaceutical Product Development (Nasdaq: PPDI) is taking on an additional – and different kind – executive role.

According to Gary Robertson of The Associated Press in Raleigh, the Wilmington resident, entrepreneur and philanthropist is a director of Eshelman, who has given millions to UNC-Chapel Hill, is also part of Wilmington-based

Robertson describes Rightchange as a “conservative leaning 527 political group.”

Rightchange has kicked in $100,000 toward a $500,000 advertising campaign launched by Real Jobs NC.

The group’s TV ads have already started.

“We’re losing North Carolina jobs, but double-digit unemployment isn’t solved by more government,” the unidentified speaker says in the ad, Robertson writes. “Politicians want more taxes, more regulations — to expand government, hurt our businesses and our employees.”

The AP reporter noted that “Real Jobs NC is quick to say it’s not working to elect or defeat certain candidates — in keeping with its federal tax designation — it’s clear the criticisms will help plow the ground for Republican hopefuls in state House and Senate races this fall.”

Here’s what Real Jobs NC says about its mission:

"Our state and country are clearly headed in the wrong direction. Real Jobs NC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that believes we need to return to a reliance on the free enterprise system that made our country great for real answers.

"Government doesn’t create jobs – businesses do. If government purports to create a job – it only does it with money taken from individuals and businesses in the form of taxes. Real and new wealth can only come from new jobs created by the private sector.

"Real Jobs NC believes that freeing up business from the burden of high taxes, overregulation and encroaching government is the best way to jumpstart the economy. The creation of real jobs that will make our families strong and fulfill every individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can happen when the free enterprise system is free to work.

"The goal of Real Jobs NC is to promote the principles of limited government, low taxation and other policies as a means to create jobs in North Carolina."

As Robertson points out, “527” groups are named after a part of the federal tax code through which they are registered. Real Jobs NC launched in May.

“The political group can receive unlimited contributions from businesses and individual donors and generate commercials and other campaign materials as long as it focuses on issues,” Robertson wrote.

“While a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this year now allows corporations to spend money to campaign directly on behalf of or against a candidate, 527 groups still have limits on activity. Candidates can be named in ‘electioneering communications’ as long as they don’t directly campaign for or against them.”

Art Pope, a wealthy Triangle businessman and Republican, told Robertson that Real Jobs NC “is not partisan.” Robertson noted that in 2004 and 2006 a Pope business donated “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to efforts to defeat Republicans that Pope “believed betrayed the party by working with Democrats.”

(For the full AP report, )

UNC’s School of Pharmacy is named after Eshelman. He graduated from there in 1972 and went on to found PPD as a one-person consulting firm in 1985 in Maryland. Eshelman moved his fledgling company to Wilmington in 1986. After a decade of rapid growth, Eshelman took PPD public.

Eshelman remains PPD’s chairman.

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