Ex-Supreme Court justice says NY ads interfere with NC campaigns

Posted July 27, 2016

Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr

— Retired North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr has filed ethics complaints over economic development ads from New York State, alleging that they intrude on North Carolina elections because they mention House Bill 2.

Orr wants the federal government and the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics to investigate whether the ads violate the Hatch Act, which prevents state and federal agencies from influencing campaigns.

The ads produced by Empire State Development, New York's economic development agency, began airing in North Carolina in late June and promoted New York as welcoming diversity, from immigrants landing in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty to its adoption of same-sex marriage. A 60-second spot also shows a series of headlines about other states seeking to halt the relocation of Syrian refugees and adopting legislation many view as discriminating against gay and transgender people.

"North Carolina Bans Local Anti-Discrimination Policies," reads a March 23 New York Times headline included in the montage. That was the same day House Bill 2 was signed into law.

The controversial measure adopted a state anti-discrimination standard that excludes the LGBT community and prohibits cities or counties from extending such protections to them. It also requires transgender people to use the bathroom in schools and other public buildings that match their birth gender.

Several businesses dropped plans to expand in North Carolina in the wake of the law's adoption, and dozens of corporate executives have called on lawmakers to repeal it, saying it makes it harder to recruit and retain workers.

"Empire State Development has used advertisements in a manner that goes beyond appropriate economic development recruitment," Orr alleges in his federal complaint. "By using public funds to promote New York as supporting certain policies and implicitly criticizing contrary political decisions made in North Carolina, an ethical limitation has been breached."

The New York agency received at least $250,000 in federal grant money in the 2015-16 fiscal year, some of which might have been used to produce the ads, according to the complaint.

Although Orr said he thinks House Bill 2 was ill-conceived and doesn't agree with Gov. Pat McCrory's and legislative leaders' defense of it, he said New York has no right to insert itself into a North Carolina debate.

"Empire State Development has chosen to insert itself into a high-profile, controversial, public policy debate by criticizing North Carolina leaders that are up for re-­election this election cycle," the complaint states.

The complaint names New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and several executives of Empire State Development.


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  • George Herbert Jul 29, 2016
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    Jesus had plenty of time to mention homosexuality and did not. He did mention rich men not getting into heaven.

  • Matt Wood Jul 29, 2016
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    Since when is commenting on a horrible policy decision "interfering with a campaign"??? This judge has obviously gone senile in his retirement.

  • Marc Nichols Jul 27, 2016
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    who says that? Most people though feel it is a loving God not one full of hate, fear, and bigotry that you spew under the guise of faith and morality.

    1 John 4:7
    Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

    1 John 4:8
    Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    1 John 4:16
    And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him.you're the godless one in this definition - hate anything and anyone that is different from you.

  • Marc Nichols Jul 27, 2016
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    Of course he has no problem with the actions of the NC legislature's running roughshod over the constitution in HB2 or in its gerrymandering, or its assault on women's health or its rolling back voter's rights....


  • Judy Loftin Jul 27, 2016
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    Democrats are Godless. It doesn't bother them to support immoral causes and cheat to win elections. I comment on all of the HB2 stories, and am always told from LGBT's their is no God!