Gov. Pat McCrory’s office canceled House Bill 2 opponents’ reservation of the governor’s mansion Wednesday, saying the liberal advocacy group violated its contract to use the building.
Progress N.C. planned to hold a “garden party” at McCrory’s house, using a policy that allows nonprofit groups to host small events in the mansion. The group had described the party as a “nonpartisan event” that would involve a few speeches but not any campaigning or protesting.
McCrory spokesman Graham Wilson issued a statement Wednesday afternoon explaining the cancellation.
“It became clear this afternoon that Progress NC had reserved the Executive Mansion for a coordinated political protest instead of the event it has discussed with staff and agreed upon in its contract,” Wilson said. “These publicly announced plans were in violation of the agreed upon contract, therefore the permit to use the mansion has been canceled.”
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Wilson cited a public Facebook post from Tina Haver Currin, who’s one of the organizers of the weekly “Air Horn Orchestra” protests. That protest is scheduled to take place across the street from the mansion, and Progress NC said the “garden party” would watch the air horn action.
But Currin’s post indicated that the group at the mansion would participate in a call-and-response chant with air horn protesters, with one side shouting “repeal” and the other side shouting “HB2.”
Wilson attached a copy of Progress NC’s rental contract, which includes the mansion’s policy that political campaign events, “excessive noise” and “inappropriate behavior” are banned.
Progress spokesman Logan Smith said his group wasn’t coordinating with the air horn protest organizers.
“We hadn’t really worked out anything specific with Grayson (Currin) and Tina,” he said. “People would have been free to participate however they choose.”
Smith said the cancellation shows the McCrory administration is violating its own stated policy for rentals. “It’s very clear that even though they held the Jesse Helms (Center’s) party a couple weeks ago and said any nonprofit organization is allowed to rent out the mansion, that sadly was apparently not the case,” he said.
Smith says the people planning to attend the garden party will likely join the air horn protest instead.