Gov. Pat McCrory has spent two Sunday mornings in Washington, D.C., TV studios defending House Bill 2, and Democrats want to know who’s paying for the travel expenses.
The N.C. Democratic Party announced Wednesday that it has filed a public records request seeking details about whether government funds paid for the trips to appear on Meet The Press and Fox News Sunday. The request asks for receipts and correspondence related to McCrory’s travel and lodging.
“While HB2 threatens billions in education funding for our state, Gov. McCrory chose to fly to Washington and appear on talk news shows instead of working with the Department of Justice to find a solution,” party chairwoman Patsy Keever said at a news conference in front of the Legislative Building. “It’s clear that Gov. McCrory intends to play political games instead of cleaning up this mess, but taxpayers should not have to pick up the tab. It’s time for Gov. McCrory to show who’s paying for his campaign tour.”
McCrory has been critical of what he views as unfair national news coverage of House Bill 2, and he’s been appearing more frequently on national TV and radio programs to make his case. Many of the interviews have been conducted via satellite from North Carolina, but the two Sunday morning talk show interviews were done in Washington studios.
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McCrory’s communications director, Josh Ellis, said the trips to Washington were “official business” and therefore funded by the state.
“That’s ridiculous,” Ellis said of the Democrats’ comments. “The governor will continue to proudly do his job in fulfilling the role and responsibility of his oath of office.”
His campaign spokesman, Ricky Diaz, also issued a statement defending the TV appearances.
“The governor was doing his job and defending the state, unlike (attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor) Roy Cooper, who is coordinating with his far-left allies from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco to hurt North Carolina's image and economy for their own political gain,” Diaz said in an email.
McCrory did not discuss his re-election bid or Cooper during the interviews. But at the Meet The Press interview, campaign consultant Chris LaCivita tweeted that he was joining the governor on the NBC set.
Even if the trips had been funded by campaign donations or by the TV networks, Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat, says the governor’s appearances are still problematic.
“The national consciousness at this time is on the side of those opposed to HB2,” McKissick said. “Each time he doubles down, it’s further damaging our national reputation and our image as one of the progressive states in the South. We will have to spend millions of dollars to undo that damage to our image and reputation.”
Keever said McCrory should have met with Department of Justice officials while in Washington to discuss the dispute over whether HB2’s provision on transgender bathroom use violates the Civil Rights Act. “If he’s going to go to Washington, let’s get something done while he’s there,” she said.