- Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla
North Carolina has suffered major fallout over its controversial “bathroom law” that could lead to anti-LGBT discrimination – and Gov. Pat McCrory’s team is trying to avoid questions about it.
At a lunch event at the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club in Charlotte last week, McCrory’s staff planted “softball” questions from fake reporters about unrelated topics, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The moderator of the event introduced the questions as coming from The Observer, however they had all been written by McCrory’s staff, the Observer found.
When an actual Observer reporter attempted to ask a question, McCrory shut it down:
“We’ve got three Observer questions answered already. I think you guys dominate the news enough,” he said.
The press conference was held the same week the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference announced they were pulling 15 college sports title events from the state because of the law.
The law, known as House Bill 2, prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for LGBT people, and bars transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the Republican-backed legislation into law in March.
HB2 has also cost North Carolina the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, which the league moved from Charlotte to New Orleans. Some companies have frozen expansions in the state, and numerous entertainers including Bruce Springsteen and Maroon 5 have cancelled concerts in protest.
A UCLA estimate pegged the state’s potential losses at $5 billion a year.
McCrory, who is up for re-election, has defended the law as necessary to ensure children’s privacy and safety.
McCrory’s campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz said his team was asked by event staff to provide pre-written questions “in order to keep the conversation format going.”
Hood Hargett Breakfast Club executive director, Jenn Snyder, said that’s not true. According to Snyder, club events routinely take questions from the floor, but McCrory’s staff insisted on the pre-written format, according to The Observer.
The questions, which The Observer labeled “softballs,” were about what McCrory plans to do with his next term, how he would reduce the state’s rape-kit backlog, and how the state’s crime lab performed under Attorney General Roy Cooper, McCrory’s Democratic opponent.
The Republican governor apologized to The Observer’s opinion editor after the event.