"Are we really talking about this?"
Pat McCrory asked incredulously about HB 2 in a September campaign ad.
Yes, Pat. We are.
The governor has his reasons for wanting to change the subject. Last year, he was facing the prospect of a tough but winnable reelection challenge against the state's popular sixteen-year attorney general. McCrory, for all his many missteps, controversies, and abysmal policy decisions, had benefited from a tech boom and a (slowly) recovering economy, especially in the state's urban areas, a phenomenon he dubbed the "Carolina Comeback."
This year changed all of that.
Starting with the March special session that gave birth to HB 2—the infamous "bathroom bill" that did lots of other terrible stuff, too—McCrory has been exposed for what he's been all along: a bumbling coward who has rolled over for the far-right General Assembly. Following one screw-up with another—from a state epidemiologist accusing the administration of lying about the safety of drinking water to repeated half-truths about HB 2—McCrory has proven himself completely unfit for the office he holds.
Here, we've compiled an indictment of sorts against America's worst governor, a list of sixty-six reasons—we left hundreds more on the cutting-room floor—why Pat McCrory needs to get the hell out of our Executive Mansion. To be clear, this isn't a fair and balanced story. It's not objective. But it is the damn truth.
1. McCrory didn't order the March 23 special session that produced HB 2 (Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and House Speaker Tim Moore did that), but he signed it. And not only did he sign it, he signed it that night—less than twelve hours after it had been introduced—while half the legislature was still trying to figure out what was in the thing. (NPR, March 24, 2016)
2. HB 2 has cost the state a pretty penny: $230 million by Facing South's estimate and as much as $395 million according to Wired. The state has lost the NBA All-Star Game, NCAA tournaments, ACC tournament games, a PayPal expansion, a Deutsche Bank expansion, countless concerts, and more. (INDY Week, September 21, 2016)
3. HB 2 also put billions of dollars in federal education funding at risk, after the Obama administration ruled that HB 2 constituted a violation of Title IX and issued a directive making clear that the state must "ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex," which "requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns." (Indeed, perhaps the law's one silver lining is that it forced the White House to take a stand on transgender rights.) North Carolina (along with twenty-three other states) sued the U.S. Department of Justice in several difference cases; fortunately, the administration has agreed not to halt the funds while those cases make their way through the courts. (The Washington Post, May 13, 2016; Politico, July 8, 2016)
4. McCrory was apparently willing to raid disaster relief funds to pay the HB 2 legal bills. An end-of-session "budget correction" moved $500,000 from the state's disaster relief fund to defend the many lawsuits over HB 2; Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown told WRAL that the "governor asked for it." McCrory neither signed nor vetoed the bill, which became law; after a public outcry, the administration said it wouldn't use the money and denied ever asking for it in the first place. (WRAL, June 30, 2016; The News & Observer, August 5, 2016)
5. While McCrory has acknowledged that HB 2 could cost the state $300 million, he refuses to accept responsibility for it. Since March, McCrory has blamed the HB 2 fallout on, among others, "the left," Attorney General Roy Cooper, Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts, the Human Rights Campaign, President Obama, the NBA, Demi Lovato, and a Jonas brother. (N&O, April 26, 2016)
6. Amid the backlash, McCrory went on Meet the Press and said that the "Human Rights Council"—he meant the Human Rights Campaign—was "more powerful than the NRA." This is objectively false: the NRA spent $350 for every $1 HRC spent on ads, mailers, and other political efforts during the 2012 and 2014 cycles. (NBC News, April 17, 2016; Politifact, April 21, 2016)
7. McCrory acknowledges that transgender former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, but thinks she should use the men's locker room anyway. As he put it at a debate, "If she's going to a shower facility at UNC-Chapel Hill after running around the track, she's gonna use the men's shower." This points to a fundamental misunderstanding of the lives of transgender people, which is why he probably shouldn't have signed a law that codified his ignorance into state statutes. (YouTube, October 11, 2016)
8. McCrory thinks transphobia makes for a good laugh line (and he's not particularly good at telling jokes). At a July rally for Donald Trump in Winston-Salem, he said, "We've got a big crowd, so if you need to leave suddenly, we've got exits this way, exits this way, and exits this way. And if any of you need to use the restrooms ..." [Cheering.] "... And if you have any questions, go to the Philadelphia convention, where all the Democrats are!" (Fusion, July 26, 2016)
9. McCrory believes that he's the real victim of intolerance. At a Family Research Council event, the governor accused the HRC of causing him and his wife to be ostracized by friends and charities. "It's almost like the George Orwell book 1984," he complained, "where if you disagree with Big Brother, or you go against the thought police, you will be purged and you will disappear." (BuzzFeed, October 10, 2016)
10. While defending HB 2, McCrory said Congress should rethink civil rights laws: "Frankly, I think there's a time where the Republicans and the Democrats in this Congress need to revisit the 1964 Civil Rights Act and revisit all this issue," McCrory told CNN's Jake Tapper, referring to transgender rights. (Mic, May 12, 2016)
11. In September, Judge Thomas Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, granted the plaintiffs in the HB 2 case a preliminary injunction, barring UNC from enforcing the law. But HB 2 isn't the only time legislation McCrory signed has run afoul of federal courts this year. In July, the Fourth District Court of Appeals struck down the state's voting law, which imposed some of the most stringent voting restrictions in the country, cutting early voting days, eliminating same-day registration, and requiring a photo ID at the polls. The Fourth Circuit said that the law was "enacted with racially discriminatory intent." (The Atlantic, August 26, 2016; The Washington Post, July 29, 2016)
12. At an October 11 debate, McCrory seemed to endorse racial profiling. When asked if implicit bias was a factor in policing, McCrory responded, "There's bias in all of us, it's not necessarily racial bias. There might be bias in how we dress, how we look, the environment that we might be in. Those are tools that police use to determine what action to take." (ThinkProgress, October 11, 2016)
13. In October 2015, McCrory signed a bill banning "sanctuary cities," or municipalities that prohibit their local police forces from asking residents about their immigration status or issuing forms of ID for undocumented immigrants. The law makes it less likely that undocumented immigrants will report crimes to authorities. (WRAL, October 28, 2015)
14. After signing HB 318, which stripped municipalities of the ability to direct their police departments not to ask about immigration status, McCrory sat down with ABC11's Jon Camp for an interview. Minutes into it, he grew irritated with Camp's use of the word "undocumented." "Illegal, I—excuse me, you say—your station apparently has a rule where you can't use the term 'illegal,' but these are illegal immigrants coming into our nation." (ABC11, October 29, 2015)
15. Earlier this year, McCrory signed HB 972, a bill that restricts police body-camera footage so that only the police can decide whether or not to show the footage to anyone, even if the person requesting it is on the recording. The law—which critics worry will further erode trust between the police and African-American communities—also says that the footage can only be released to the public following a court order. (ABC11, July 12, 2016)