When it comes to HB2, the disastrous anti-LGBT legislation that he signed into law, Gov. Pat McCrory can’t seem to help himself.
Virtually every prominent individual or institution that criticizes HB2 in any way can count on a bitter and over-the-top attack from the governor and his top surrogates, with many of their claims consisting of wild exaggerations and outright falsehoods.
It’s an odd strategy indeed for a governor who claims that economic development is his top priority, to aggressively attack prominent companies and organizations that have second thoughts about North Carolina because of a law that targets the LGBT community for discrimination.
This week brought another sobering reminder of what HB2 is doing to the state as investors with $2.1 trillion in collective assets under their management called for a repeal of the law, saying it is making it harder to get deals done and finance businesses in the state.
You’d think that would concern a governor committed to creating jobs and supporting entrepreneurs. But instead it brought the now familiar response from McCrory’s camp, who said it was the height of hypocrisy for “New York hedge fund billionaires to lecture North Carolina about how to conduct its affairs.”
The investor group is not hedge fund billionaires, it’s a collection of socially responsible investors, many of whom are based in North Carolina or have a significant presence here.
The more than 50 institutions signing the statement calling for repeal include state pension funds, big firms like RBC Wealth Management and Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and a host of smaller companies.
The group was put together by the Croatan Institute based in Durham, Trillium Asset Management that has one of its four national offices in the Triangle, and the New York City Comptroller.
Nobody in the influential group attacked North Carolina or McCrory, they simply pointed out that HB2 is hurting its efforts in the state and needs to be repealed.
For that they were called hypocrites by the governor and derided as hedge fund billionaires from New York. That ought to make them happy to be in the state.
Other executives know how they feel. When PayPal announced last spring that it was cancelling a planned expansion in Charlotte because of HB2, McCrory and his staff disparaged the company repeatedly.
The same thing happened recently when the NBA, NCAA, and ACC announced they were moving major events out of the state. McCrory blasted them as out-of-touch sports and entertainment elite, called the NBA decision to move the all-star game out of Charlotte “PC BS,” and a Republican congressman threatened the ACC’s tax-exempt status.
Not exactly the best way to encourage the organizations to come back to North Carolina, calling them names and issuing threats.
But that’s what it has come to with a governor under siege thanks to a law he signed in the dark of night that has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, tens of thousands of jobs and damaged its reputation around the world.
McCrory can’t even bring himself to publicly admit that North Carolina has a problem, much less muster the courage to do anything about it.
Instead he is making things worse, arguing in court that transgender people are mentally ill and need treatment not protection from discrimination and associating with groups that believe gay teens should be “cured,” not respected.
That’s not going to help much with the group of investors who spoke out this week or the CEOs of the more than 200 major corporations who signed a letter last spring opposing HB2. The companies include Apple, Google, Facebook, Bank of America, virtually every major corporation you can think of.
The corporate leaders know that discrimination is morally wrong and that it is bad for business and bad for their workplace.
Gov. McCrory either doesn’t know that or won’t admit it.
Instead all he can do is lash out at people and corporations who speak up for equal rights.
Meanwhile his hateful law continues to damage North Carolina’s economy now — and his response to its critics threatens jobs and investments for the state in the future.
Chris Fitzsimon is executive director of N.C. Policy Watch