McCrory Spins Braeburn Pharma's Decision to Proceed with N.C. Plans Despite HB 2 | News

McCrory Spins Braeburn Pharma's Decision to Proceed with N.C. Plans Despite HB 2

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This week's  news release from Gov. McCrory's campaign, trumpeting Braeburn Pharmaceuticals' decision to proceed with plans for a $20 million Durham County facility despite disgust over HB 2, is characteristically full of crap.

That, basically, is the conclusion of reporter Tom Bullock of Charlotte NPR station WFAE 90.7, who sums up McCrory's desperate self-congratulating and deflective finger-pointing this way:


Facts are often the first casualty in tough political races. They can be twisted and distorted to allow a candidate to claim a victory even one they don’t deserve.  

Governor Pat McCrory’s campaign had just such a moment this week. 


So what did the McCrory campaign claim? Well, for starters:

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?

Nah. Folks, we're looking at a hastily pounded-out press release from a campaign staffer whose instructions don't include telling the truth.

Let's recap a bit.  Two weeks after Braeburn announced plans for the research and manufacturing facility, "with McCrory speaking in support," the project was in serious jeopardy by the end of March, as WNCN reported:

In an official statement, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals said it is “reevaluating our options based on the recent unjust legislation.”

The company had planned to bring 52 new jobs to the area in the next five years, along with an investment of nearly $20 million in the site.

Braeburn added that it is “extremely disappointed” with the passage of HB2. “Braeburn Pharmaceuticals believes in fair treatment and equality for all individuals in their communities. We oppose any legislation that discriminates against the LGBT community,” Braeburn said in its statement.

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."

It continues:
 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:

So is this some grand left wing conspiracy? No, Sheldon says.
"No one pushed us to leave but ourselves."

The CEO did meet with Attorney General Roy Cooper, but that meeting went very differently than how it’s being portrayed by the McCrory campaign.

"Roy Cooper absolutely pushed us to stay and fight from within," Sheldon says.


The WFAE piece also takes McCrory to task for failing to mention his meeting with Braeburn; as well as the real reasons the company decided to go ahead and create 52 jobs in Durham County.

"I would say the single thing that made a difference was that the Department of Justice suit," Sheldon says. "That’s what made the difference because we think the law will not stand."

Sheldon adds the company did not want to penalize Durham County, where the county commission unanimously passed a resolution condemning House Bill 2.

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."

Democrat Josh Stein, who's running against the always-charming Republican Sen. Buck "Keep Our State Straight" Newton for what is soon to be Cooper's old job, has been having  a righteous field day with WFAE's dissection of McCrory's spin:


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