In October, the INDY sued the McCrory administration over public records requests made throughout 2016 that have gone ignored and unanswered. Last week, the administration started responding to parts of those requests related to that lawsuit, including staff correspondence with news networks after HB 2 was passed, messages involved in the drafting of a pro-HB 2 press release, and the governor's and his chief of staff's emails regarding HB 2 and the Charlotte ordinance that precipitated it. Many of the emails were rote, but a few piqued our interest. One, for instance, shows that soon-to-be-former Governor McCrory was still being advised on the law he signed two days after he signed it by a key legislator involved in the bill. Another email shows that McCrory complained to an American Airlines executive after the company denounced the law.
In the early hours of March 25, state representative and HB 2 sponsor Dan Bishop sent an email to McCrory that began with, "Q: Why could the General Assembly not simply reverse the 'bathroom provision' of the Charlotte ordinance?" It's unclear what prompted Bishop to write that email, though the governor's team had reportedly wanted to focus narrowly on the bathroom aspect of the Charlotte ordinance, while legislative Republicans wanted a further-reaching measure. This email, two days after the bill was passed in a special session, is apparently Bishop's attempt to explain their logic to McCrory.
"The City Council, in amending an existing ordinance to mandate cross-sex bathroom access in local businesses, not only acted beyond their delegated authority, they also created direct conflicts with at least two state statutes, the Building Code and the indecent exposure statute, both of which already preclude unisex use and operation of such facilities," Bishop wrote. "Had we attempted to write a bill just to forbid cities from passing ordinances allowing use of opposite-sex facilities, we would have created a third statutory conflict, but no clear resolution."
In the email, Bishop also admitted that a "prohibition on wage regulation"—i.e., preventing municipalities from raising the local minimum wage—was driven by a desire to placate the business community.
"Indeed, the one remaining section of the bill, preempting cities' regulation of their contractors' business practices, was essential to prevent the City from imposing mandates on businesses located outside city limits," Bishop continued. "The prohibition on wage regulation is the only item that was not strictly necessary, but it also was well warranted and will be welcomed by businesses."
McCrory forwarded the email to deputy campaign manager Billy Constangy with the note, "I need hard copy of this delivered to house. Pat."
In another McCrory email, the governor forwarded a news story in which an American Airlines spokeswoman condemned HB 2 to American Airlines managing director for government relations Chuck Allen with the message: "A total mischaracterization of bill and our state. shameful [sic]."
If you'd like to peruse all of the emails we've received, visit indyweek.com.