• 39°

Editorial: Public stance, private angst

Gov. Pat McCrory has stoutly defended House Bill 2, “the bathroom bill,” throughout the campaign season and in debates with Attorney General Roy Cooper. Before the General Assembly passed the bill in emergency session, though, McCrory had stronger reservations than the public may realize, according to emails that circulated in his administration.

The Charlotte Observer filed a public records request on April 5 for copies of emails sent or received by McCrory and his staff since Feb. 1 regarding House Bill 2 and the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance the bill was designed to stop. Six months later on Oct. 7, with the request still not fulfilled, the Observer filed suit against McCrory. The files were delivered on Monday, Oct. 17.

Perhaps the clearest description of McCrory’s thinking showed up in an email from his general counsel, Bob Stephens, responding in late March to a former colleague’s concerns.

“Bob, here are the facts: We fought against this bill,” Stephens wrote to Bob Turner. “You have no idea how hard the Governor worked to limit it. He told the legislature that it went too far. We lobbied against it and even drafted our own version of the bill but it was not accepted.” A veto, he explained, would have been overridden.

The Charlotte ordinance that prompted the controversial law protected transgender people who use public bathrooms based on their gender identity. Under House Bill 2, the gender on birth certificates is what counts. The bill also established a statewide ban against discrimination that omits sexual identity or gender orientation as protected categories. And it prohibited local governments from adopting their own anti-discrimination laws or regulations on employment practices.

Strongly worded emails came from people on both sides of the issue, the records show. Some went to Fred Steen, the former Landis mayor who worked as McCrory’s chief lobbyist until this summer. The bill passed on March 23, and while praise poured in from some groups, administration officials soon were dealing with the corporate consequences — starting with the loss of 400 PayPal jobs. “That’s just one of many,” Stephens wrote to a real estate executive. “Raleigh and Durham are now reporting cancellations of events. I’m afraid that some of the tech companies in (Research Triangle Park) are going to be next.”

Kudos to the state public records law for giving citizens access to more than the public face officials project, and kudos to the Observer for pressing its case. If House Bill 2 is one of the defining issues of this campaign, voters should know how McCrory feels about the law. According to his counsel, McCrory was ambivalent at best — and helpless to stop lawmakers he thought were going too far.

Comments

Coronavirus

10% of Rowan residents receive first dose; eight COVID-19 deaths reported this week

News

North Carolina State Highway Patrol commander to retire

Education

UNC School of the Arts may go for online learning due to COVID-19 spread

Coronavirus

Greensboro site to administer 3,000 daily vaccine doses starting March 10

Nation/World

$1.9 billion relief bill closer to passage in House

Nation/World

Lady Gaga’s dogs recovered safely

Coronavirus

Advisers OK single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J

Local

Post wins 18 N.C. Press Association Awards

Education

Cooper vetoes bill that would force K-12 schools to reopen

Local

Lanning named Spencer’s fire chief

Crime

Blotter: Feb. 26

Crime

Salisbury, Kannapolis men charged with soliciting sexual acts

News

Racial bias ‘deeply entrenched’ in report critical of Apex Police Department

Nation/World

US bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia

Elections

City council again dismisses idea of adding new member, focus now on recommendation to delay elections

Business

‘Let’s make some money:’ Loosened restrictions praised by bar owners, baseball team

High School

Salisbury High bucks historical trend in dominant shutout of West Rowan

Enochville

Garage declared total loss after Enochville fire

Crime

Cooper, N.C. prison officials agree to release 3,500 inmates

Coronavirus

Two more COVID-19 deaths reported in Rowan, six for the week

Crime

Blotter: Man brandishes AR-15, runs over motorcycle at Rockwell-area gas station

Crime

Salisbury man charged with exploitation of minor

Crime

Road rage incident results in assault charges

Local

Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed