In case you missed it last night there was some big news on the HB2 front. In a speech in Winston-Salem yesterday, Gov. Pat McCrory claimed that the state’s highest profile business lobby group, the North Carolina Chamber, helped write the state’s all-purpose LGBT discrimination law. (Scroll to the bottom of this post to watch McCrory’s statement.) This directly contradicts statements made by NC Chamber boss Lew Ebert. This is from a story by reporter Mark Binker on WRAL.com:
“Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday that a group of top business leaders helped to draft House Bill 2, something the North Carolina Chamber has denied for months.
The statement appears to put the Republican, who is seeking re-election this fall, directly at odds with the state’s largest business lobby, which has supported GOP candidates in recent campaigns….
‘I think they ought to read the bill,’ McCrory says at roughly the 26-minute mark of his campaign’s video, insisting that most people do not understand what was in it.
‘It’s only a five-page bill. There are four parts of it, two parts the Chamber of Commerce helped write here in North Carolina.’
That explicitly conflicts with statements North Carolina Chamber officials have made since April, although it jibes with speculation put forward by lobbyists and activists at the time….
In an interview on Time Warner Cable News, Chamber President Lew Ebert was asked whether the Chamber played any role in shaping the bill. He responded, ‘Not at all.’
Kate Payne, a spokeswoman for the Chamber, repeated that denial Wednesday night.
‘The North Carolina Chamber had no part in suggesting, drafting or reviewing House Bill 2,’ Payne said.”
“What gives with the NC Chamber? There was a time when, in its previous iteration as North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, the NC Chamber was mostly a force for slightly-right-of-center moderation in state politics and policy. Over the last several years, however, since former Martin administration official and public education booster Phil Kirk was replaced with conservative fire breather and anti-tax zealot Lew Ebert, things have changed dramatically.
At no point in recent times was this more evident than last week when the Chamber remained publicly silent while state lawmakers and Gov. McCrory rammed through the most regressive and far-reaching LGBT discrimination law in the U.S. — a law that is provoking a firestorm of protest and scores of boycotts around the country. As has been noted on this website and others, dozens of the state’s most prominent corporations and local chambers of commerce have spoken out against House Bill 2 in recent days, but strangely and disturbingly, their overarching trade association — the NC Chamber — remains silent.”
Now, according to McCrory anyway, we know what happened. In keeping with its reputation as a cynical, opportunistic, ideologically driven lobby group for the top 1%, the Chamber did, in fact, cut a backroom deal as has long been speculated and then publicly denied it had done so afterward.
Unless, of course, it didn’t — in which case the Governor of North Carolina has told a slanderous falsehood about a powerful ally.
All in all, it’s a hell of a mess and just the latest depressing chapter in the sordid HB2 saga that continues to wreak havoc with the reputation of our once great state.