The Charlotte Observer reports that North Carolina governor Pat McCrory’s campaign planted three fake “press” questions at a recent event to keep that newspaper from inquiring about the millions of dollars of revenue lost by the state after its passage of the anti-LGBT House Bill 2.
McCrory and the state legislation have continually attempted to wipe away doubts and concerns from the LGBT community and local business owners over the ill effects of the law since its passing; while recent decisions by the NBA, NCAA, and ACC have had little effect on McCrory’s feelings on the matter, a recent report from the Charlotte Observer shows the governor’s staff is feeling the heat.
According to the Observer, McCrory’s camp planted three questions under the guise of being presubmitted by that newspaper at a recent event for Charlotte business owners. When editorial page editor Taylor Batten attempted to step in and ask a question, McCrory brushed him off, claiming the previous trio of questions was enough from the state’s most-read newspaper.
When the moderator asked how to get started, McCrory said, “Anything you like. No filter here.” Sure, who needs a filter when you posed the questions yourself?
When I tried to ask McCrory a question, the filter went up. “We’ve got three Observer questions answered already. I think you guys dominate the news enough.”
Of course, those weren’t Observer questions. They were softballs from his staff about what he wanted to do with his next term; how he wanted to reduce the state’s rape kit backlog; and how the state crime lab performed under McCrory’s opponent, Roy Cooper.
Batten confirmed the questions were planted by the McCrory staff in speaking with Ricky Diaz, a campaign spokesperson. Diaz claimed the questions were inserted as an attempt to, in his words, “keep the conversation format going.”
Hood Hargett Breakfast Club executive director Jenn Snyder denies this; she told Batten she expected McCrory to take live questions from the audience, but his camp insisted all questions be submitted ahead of time. In doing so, they mixed in three of their own questions with legitimate ones from those from the public and the press without notifying those in attendance of their origins.
The governor called Batten following the event, and offered non-answers when asked about LGBT legal rights; throughout the post-HB2 firestorm, McCrory and the state GOP have spent their time pointing fingers at organizations fighting against the law, claiming the moves to be for-show politics. When speaking on the phone with Batten, McCrory’s only answer as to why House Bill 2 did not limit itself to being a bathroom-specific piece of legislation was, “Our lawyers at the time didn’t know a way to separate it.”
The lawyers instead drafted a bill—which you can review in full here—that in addition to mandating people use the bathroom of their born gender, limits the ability of local governments to set minimum wages and eliminates the state’s legal basis for discrimination claims. The bill also protects itself with a clause in the fourth section holding that if one section of the bill falls, the rest will stand. So when the state legislature opted to repeal the discrimination-claim clause in July (while also shortening the statute of limitations from three years to one), the rest of the bill remained intact.
In speaking with the business club, McCrory did at least offer an answer on his thoughts on the bathroom section, which will likely be reviewed by the Supreme Court in 2017:
There is a major debate going on, not just in Charlotte, not just in North Carolina, about what is now the definition of gender. For our schools, for our highway rest stops, for our parks, for our universities, I believe we ought to do it the way we always did it. By the way, for our state prison system, which I have to run, I believe gender should be based upon anatomy, not what you think it is, what you think you are, or what your expression is that day.
In case you were wondering, even with the re-installation of non-discrimination language, North Carolina remains one of 28 states in which you can fire an employee purely because of their gender or sexual orientation.