Is McCrory or Chamber telling the truth about HB2?

Gov. Pat McCrory listens to a question at the N.C. Chamber Annual Government Affairs Conference in Raleigh in May.
Gov. Pat McCrory listens to a question at the N.C. Chamber Annual Government Affairs Conference in Raleigh in May. TNS

Did the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce write part of HB2? Either it did and officials there are lying, or it didn’t and Gov. Pat McCrory is misinformed.

When House Bill 2 passed and shook North Carolina and its business community, the N.C. Chamber was oddly silent. The state’s largest business group said almost nothing for nearly two months on a topic of great importance to its membership and the state.

Now Gov. McCrory says the Chamber helped write two of the bill’s four parts. The Chamber says that’s not true.

WRAL’s Mark Binker reports that at a Winston-Salem event Wednesday, McCrory was asked to respond to businesses that have objected to HB2.

“It’s only a five-page bill. There are four parts of it, two parts the Chamber of Commerce helped write here in North Carolina,” McCrory said.

But Chamber President Lew Ebert said in May the Chamber had nothing whatsoever to do with crafting the bill. Chamber spokeswoman Kate Payne reiterated that Wednesday night, Binker reports. “The North Carolina Chamber had no part in suggesting, drafting or reviewing House Bill 2,” she said, according to Binker.

The Observer editorial board wrote an editorial in April saying the Chamber’s silence was raising questions about what was driving it. We asked if perhaps it was accepting the anti-LGBT provisions in return for a provision that blocked cities from passing minimum-wage laws and another that banned employees from filing a state cause of action in discrimination cases.

“Either the Chamber agrees with the discriminatory intent of HB2 or it is holding its tongue to preserve its influence with legislators,” we said.

HB2 is unpopular in the polls and yet McCrory has doubled down on his support of it during his tough re-election campaign. Elections analyst Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia today moved the McCrory-Roy Cooper race from “toss-up” to leans Democratic in part because HB2 is dragging McCrory’s numbers down.

It’s no surprise, then, that McCrory would portray the legislation as supported by – even partially written by – the Chamber, which has some 35,000 members and which has supported Republican candidates in recent campaigns. But we still don’t know whether it’s McCrory or the Chamber that is misstating the facts.

McCrory’s press secretary did not immediately return an email seeking comment this morning.