Efforts to repeal Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance fell apart amid lobbying from lawmaker

GOP, City Council respond to WBTV investigation
Published: Sep. 19, 2016 at 8:47 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2016 at 2:09 PM EDT
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Representative Becky Carney
Representative Becky Carney
Mayor pro tem Vi Lyles and Council member at large Julie Eiselt
Mayor pro tem Vi Lyles and Council member at large Julie Eiselt

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - North Carolina State Representative Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg) lobbied members of the Charlotte City Council against voting to repeal the city's non-discrimination ordinance, which would have paved the way for a repeal of the controversial House Bill 2, multiple sources tell On Your Side Investigates.

On Your Side Investigates spoke with multiple people, both Republican and Democrat, who have knowledge of internal deliberations among the city council over whether to repeal its ordinance and the legislature's offer to repeal HB2 if the city's ordinance were repealed.

Multiple sources say there were seven members of the council who had agreed to repeal the ordinance on Friday.

That number d ropped by two, sources say, when Mayor pro Tem Vi Lyles and Councilwoman Julie Eiselt changed their vote amid lobbying efforts from Carney.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts announced the council would not consider a vote to repeal its ordinance in a press release Monday morning.

RELATED: Mayor Roberts: Council won't consider LGBT ordinance repeal Monday

"The City of Charlotte continues its commitment to be a welcoming community that honors and respects all people," Roberts said in her statement. "We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges we are facing and applaud the governor for recognizing the state should overturn HB2, which the state can do at any time without any action from the City of Charlotte."

Eiselt did not dispute that she changed her vote in response to questions from On Your Side Investigates on Monday, but did say she did not speak directly with Carney.

Lyles did not respond to an email seeking comment. Carney confirmed in a phone interview late Monday afternoon that she spoke with Lyles regarding the proposal to repeal the city's ordinance but denied she pressured anyone to change their vote.

PAST ARTICLE: Bipartisan coalition to pass HB2 changes fell apart amid pressure from Roy Cooper

"I find it humorous that I would have that kind of power to tell them not to vote for this," Carney said.

A Democratic member of the legislature, who spoke on background to discuss the situation, confirmed Carney tied her opposition to the ordinance's repeal directly to her desire to keep HB2 on the books so Democrats in close legislative races could use the bill as a wedge issue in November's election.

The lawmaker said Republican leaders in the legislature had agreed to repeal HB2 if the city's ordinance were also repealed and that there were enough votes to push the bill's repeal through.

RELATED: McCrory's office: If Charlotte repeals ordinance, HB2 special session could happen

"This deal was done, and was going to be done, but for three people and they're all sitting in Charlotte,' the Democratic lawmaker said. "Three people in Charlotte are holding North Carolina hostage right now."

The new efforts to repeal both the city's non-discrimination ordinance and HB2 come following announcements from the NCAA and the ACC that it would move major sporting events out of the state.

Previously, the NBA had announced it would move the 2017 All-Star Game, scheduled to be played in Charlotte, after a deal to modify portions of the controversial bill fell through during the last week of this year's legislative session.

RELATED: ACC pulling championships from North Carolina over House Bill 2

Carney said she wants to see HB2 repealed.

"The Charlotte ordinance was not the reason the NBA, Pay Pal, NCAA or ACC or any businesses or entertainers; they did not leave North Carolina based on Charlotte passing its ordinance," she said.

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