Last week, the Charlotte Observer filed a lawsuit against the McCrory administration after waiting six months for emails regarding HB 2. Yesterday, the administration finally complied with the request, releasing thousands of emails about the Charlotte ordinance, the special session, and the law’s immediate aftermath.
The emails show the political pressure McCrory came under from the right for not calling for the special session in the first place. Like this email from Christian author Frank Turek:
“Is it true the Governor does not want a special session?” Frank Turek, a Christian author and speaker wrote in a March 1 email to Fred Steen, who was then McCrory’s chief lobbyist at the N.C. General Assembly. He copied other activists and House Speaker Tim Moore on the message.
“This kind of inaction is exactly what is feeding the anti-establishment rage. If the Republicans don’t want to be engulfed by the (Donald) Trump wave, they better get off their butts and do something before this dangerous ordinance goes into effect in April.
“Taking action now is not only the right thing to do, it will be politically popular,” he wrote.
The emails also show that there was confusion among the staff after McCrory signed it:
The day after the bill’s signing, Judykay Jefferson, director of the governor’s office of community and constituent affairs, sent an email to staffers saying her office had “been very busy with calls and need our official talking points,” adding: “It is difficult to properly serve our constituents without the Governor’s official statement on HB2.”
Lindsey Wakely, deputy general counsel, asked how she could help, saying the front desk at the governor’s office had received a “mix of instate and out-of-state calls in opposition.”
And finally, that the religious right that put McCrory under pressure coalesced around him when the state started facing financial ramifications because of the bill:
“Now that we have passed the immediate challenge, thanks to everyone who took action to heart,” wrote Ken Barun, chief of staff for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, on March 27. Franklin Graham, the organization’s CEO and son of founder Billy Graham, “told me he had called his good friend Governor Pat McCrory to thank him and the Governor shared with Franklin that his office was receiving a lot of heat from corporations.”
Later that day, Tami Fitzgerald of the N.C. Values Coalition sent a group email that copied Barun, Turek, Charlotte minister Mark Harris, Steen from the governor’s office and others, urging them to rally behind McCrory and his re-election campaign. She also said they should push back on major corporations opposed to the HB2 and raised doubts about whether the NBA would pull the All-Star Game.
“Only the NBA has made a threat, and it was not very overt,” she wrote. “I think if we push back loudly (on corporations), they won’t want to risk angering the majority of their consumers.”
The NBA yanked the All-Star Game from Charlotte on July 21. As we reported a few weeks ago, the bill has already cost the state’s economy as much as $395 million so far.
You can read the Observer‘s full story here. We currently have seven outstanding public records requests to the governor’s office.