Cook ranks third in House

Published 12:52 am Friday, December 2, 2011

Conservative voting record earns praise of GOP-leaning group

A Republican-aligned nonprofit group ranks state Rep. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, the third-most-effective member of the House, in terms of conservatism.

Civitas Action of Raleigh awarded Cook 97.9 out of a possible 100 points in its rankings of 123 lawmakers in the House.

The House has 120 members, some of whom have been replaced because of turnover in that body. This turnover resulted in an excess of ranked representatives.

For a full list of rankings, visit

“I’m very pleased,” Cook said of his ranking. “I tried to be as conservative as I felt was warranted. I was pleased to see that somebody was paying attention.”

A first-term representative, Cook was elected in November 2010.

He’s a member of the House agriculture, appropriations, environment and redistricting committees, among others.

On the Senate side, Sen. Stan White, D-Dare, placed 33rd out of 50 senators in conservative voting, according to Civitas Action.

White represents Beaufort County in the Senate.

Civitas Action has been ranking House and Senate members since 2008, said Francis DeLuca, president.

The think tank’s staff tracks House and Senate legislators’ votes on bills and other maneuvers on the floor of the General Assembly.

The organization based its place assignments on 50 vote samples in the House and 43 in the Senate, DeLuca related.

Each vote was worth two points. Generally, members who are absent during votes may score less than their counterparts who are in attendance, under Civitas’ methodology.

“We try to find votes that kind of cover the gamut of issues — social, economic, law and order, freedom votes,” DeLuca said.

DeLuca described Civitas Action as separate from the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, a conservative activist-information group also located in Raleigh.

The Civitas Institute has received financial support from GOP supporter and retail executive Art Pope.

Pope and his family directly contributed to Cook’s campaign in 2010, giving a combined $16,000 to the candidate at one point.

“He’s known for supporting conservative enterprises,” Cook said of Pope, adding he doesn’t believe the contributor’s backing of his candidacy was factored into the rankings.

As for Civitas, Cook said, “You might not call it unbiased, but it’s certainly clear if you’re conservative, even if you’re a Democrat, you would have rated well on that score.”

The Legislature isn’t currently in session, but committee and subcommittee meetings are being held. The House and Senate will convene Feb. 16, 2012.

In other news, Cook also has received a Defender of Liberty award for getting a 100-percent score on conservative values from the American Conservative Union.

The ACU’s website describes it as “America’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization.”