Former NC Supreme Court Justice Files Complaints Over NY Ads

Jul 27, 2016

A screenshot from an ad series aimed at drawing businesses away from North Carolina in the wake of House Bill 2.
Credit YouTube

A series of ads aimed at poaching businesses from North Carolina in response to House Bill 2 has drawn fire from a former North Carolina State Supreme Court Justice.

Bob Orr said North Carolina's controversial House Bill 2 was ill-conceived. But he's not happy with efforts by New York State officials to cash in by luring business away. He said the ads, which tout New York State as a more diverse and inclusive business environment than North Carolina, are inappropriate.

"I don't like, conceptually, states coming in trying to steal businesses or pirate businesses from North Carolina," said Orr.

More: Read the federal complaint

Orr filed state and federal ethics complaints alleging the ads are interfering with gubernatorial and legislative election campaigns. He's asking for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics to investigate whether the ad campaign misspent federal funding under the Hatch Act, which prevents state and federal agencies from influencing campaigns.

In the complaint to the Office of Special Counsel, Orr wrote:

"The advertisements currently airing in North Carolina are a blatant use of authority and influence by the Empire State Development civil servants to influence elections and political activities in North Carolina through the use of taxpayer funding as it is believed that these advertisements have been created using federal  grant money. To be sure, in fiscal year 2016, Empire State Development has received at least $250,000 in federal grant money."

Orr called the effort to capitalize on the controversial legislation "fundamentally wrong."

"It's just none of New York's business, and they just shouldn't be using public funds to interject themselves into the debate," Orr said.

HB2 limits protections for members of the LGBT community. Multiple companies including PayPal and Deutsche Bank canceled expansion plans following the bill's passage in March.