by Danny Hooley
The company's press release today, which cites poll numbers and a meeting between the company's CEO and Attorney General Roy Cooper, raises strong suspicions that threats to pull out of North Carolina were unfortunately more to do with politics than business from the very beginning.You would think the McCrory camp would rather cite "poll numbers" that are in the governor's favor, right? But as Bullock points out, there's only one mention of poll numbers in Braeburn's announcement on Tuesday:
According to a recent poll, there is minimal support for HB2 among North Carolina voters and most voters believe it is having a negative impact on the economy. Durham County’s strong record on non-discrimination against the LGBT community, including the Durham Chamber of Commerce’s public statement against HB2, proves that advocacy for civil rights is highly valued in the County.Or maybe he's dismissing "poll numbers" and standing on (coughing fit, sorry) "principle?" Being a "rock, even when we're surrounded by shifting sand," like N.C. Republican Congresschristian and Good Daddy Richard Hudson?
On Tuesday, Braeburn announced that the project would go ahead in Durham County, as planned:
“Diversity and non-discrimination are core to the identity of Braeburn Pharmaceuticals and we consider our own organization’s diverse make-up to be a competitive advantage,” said Behshad Sheldon, President and CEO of Braeburn. “We proudly stand with the growing list of national and local businesses who have spoken out against the injustice of HB2 and in favor of LGBT rights. We seriously considered moving our manufacturing facility to another state to send a clear message about the depth of our commitment. Ultimately, however, we concluded that abandoning Braeburn’s job creation plans in Durham County would unfairly penalize a community that shares Braeburn’s commitment to equality.”The next paragraph of that Braeburn press release does, indeed, mention a meeting with McCrory's Democratic gubernatorial challenger Cooper, in which all parties agreed that "Braeburn could help more by advocating from within North Carolina than by protesting through departure."
Braeburn is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit filed on May 9, 2016 in North Carolina federal court seeking a determination that HB2 violates federal non-discrimination law and the Obama administration’s guidelines issued to public schools on May 13, 2016.However, Bullock at WFAE shoots down the McCrory camp's charge that Cooper is trying to use HB 2 as a vehicle to sabotage N.C.'s economy just to make the governor look bad. The reporter asks Sheldon to comment on that:
Sheldon also confirms, despite the McCrory campaign's insinuations to the contrary, that pulling the plug on N.C. was absolutely on the table, at one point:
"We looked at other opportunities. We were willing to lose money in the process." In fact, she says, "honestly if we had known about HB 2 in advance we would not have signed the lease."