CHARLOTTE, NC (Rick Rothacker/The Charlotte Observer) - Three days after Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, his general counsel told a legal colleague that the governor battled the legislature over the bill, according to emails obtained by the Observer.
"Bob, here are the facts: We fought against this bill," Bob Stephens said in a March 26 email to Bob Turner, a lawyer in Charlotte. "You have no idea how hard the Governor worked to limit it. He told the legislature that it went too far. We lobbied against it and even drafted our own version of the bill but it was not accepted."
The governor's office talked to a "large number of legislators" but they passed it anyway, Stephens continued.
"And don't tell me the Governor should have vetoed the bill," Stephens wrote. "His veto would have been overridden in a matter of days and we'd be right where we are now. If you have other ideas about what the Governor should have done, let me know."
If Turner disagreed with the bill, he should contact legislators Bob Rucho, Dan Bishop, Phil Berger or others, Stephens wrote.
"The Governor is always the lightning rod for these things," Stephens said. "Not fair."
The Observer received thousands of pages of emails on Monday after the paper filed a lawsuit over a six-months' old public records request.
McCrory signed HB2 into law in March to nullify a Charlotte ordinance, which had generated controversy by protecting transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity. HB2 also overrode local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.
HB2, has spurred corporations to call off expansion projects, sports conferences to pull games and entertainers to cancel performances. The law has also become a major issue in McCrory's re-election bid against Democrat Roy Cooper.