McCrory spokesman: NY travel ban hypocritical

Posted March 30, 2016 1:03 a.m. EDT
Updated March 30, 2016 6:09 a.m. EDT

— A spokesman for North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is criticizing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he banned nonessential publicly funded travel to North Carolina after that state's Legislature blocked anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people.

McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said Tuesday that Cuomo's move shows "hypocrisy and demagoguery." He questioned whether the Democrat would ask the Syracuse University basketball team to boycott the upcoming Final Four because it is hosted by Houston, where voters last year defeated a non-discrimination ordinance.

As a private university, Syracuse would not be subject to a state travel ban even if one existed.

Ellis also noted that Cuomo last year visited Cuba, a country that he says has a "deplorable" human rights record.

Cuomo signed the ban on travel to the Tar Heel state into law Monday by executive order. It requires all state agencies, departments, boards and commissions to immediately review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to North Carolina.

He said New York "will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past."

Lawmakers convened in Raleigh last week to push through the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act before Charlotte could put into place a measure that would have allowed people to use the bathroom of their gender identity, regardless of their physical makeup.

McCrory has defined North Carolina's HB2 as an important protection for individual privacy and pointed out in a statement that "North Carolina is one of at least 37 states like Virginia where cities and towns cannot pass rules or regulations that exceed the authority given to them by the state."

Backers of the state law say it was needed to prevent predators from using restrooms marked for the opposite sex.

Since the law's passage, protests have taken place outside the governor's mansion, in Chapel Hill and online, where the hashtag #WeAreNotThis has been trending.

The back-and-forth over the so-called "bathroom bill" continued Tuesday with groups on either side releasing lists of business supporters.

North Carolina Values Coalition spokeswoman Tami Fitzgerald said her group had commitments from more than 300 North Carolina business owners.

"Hundreds of North Carolina business owners have signed on to a letter thanking Governor Pat McCrory and the General Assembly for passing a law affirming the privacy and safety of businesses, women and children to live and work in accordance with their deeply held beliefs. These businesses support and applaud Governor McCrory for supporting women and children over being politically correct," the organization's statement read.

The Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC countered with their own letter to McCrory, signed by CEOs of companies including Apple, Intel, Pfizer and Yahoo, urging the governor to press for a repeal of the law.

"We are disappointed in your decision to sign this discriminatory legislation into law. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business," the CEOs wrote.

The NBA, which has planned to hold its annual All-Star Weekend in Charlotte in 2017, is said to be reconsidering.

In a statement, the league says the law "runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect," adding that it does not know yet "what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte."