N.C. rep’s staffer: Voting against anti-LGBT magistrate bill would result in rep’s home, law office being ‘burned to the ground’

Staffer denies making remarks to constituent; Senate Bill 2 override possibly pushed to Thursday

READ MORE: Follow the latest from the N.C. legislature…

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A legislative assistant for a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives has denied making comments to a constituent, allegedly telling him that her boss’ home and law office would be “burned to the ground” if he voted against an anti-LGBT piece of legislation allowing magistrates and registers of deeds to opt out of civil marriage services and ceremonies for same-gender couples.

Legislative Assistant Haley Kitts works for Yadkin County's Rep. Lee Zachary (pictured above).

Legislative Assistant Haley Kitts works for Yadkin County’s Rep. Lee Zachary (pictured above).

Haley Kitts is the legislative assistant for Republican Rep. Lee Zachary, who represents Yadkin County, Alexander County and portions of Wilkes County.

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Yadkin County resident Bradley Hardy said he had a conversation on Wednesday with Kitts. In the conversation, Kitts allegedly defended Zachary’s vote for the controversial legislation, Senate Bill 2, which passed the House last week and was later vetoed by Gov. Pat McCrory. The veto was overridden in the Senate on Monday and could be up for reconsideration in the House this week.

According to Bradley, Kitts told him: “Trust me, there are definitely parts of this bill that he does not agree with but his home, his school, his law office would be burned to the ground if he did not vote for it. It’s Yadkinville. It’s a very conservative place. He’s just doing it to save face.”

Kitts was initially reluctant to speak to qnotes when contacted Wednesday afternoon.

“I don’t want anything in the press. Nothing,” Kitts said. “Nothing I said, nothing Rep. Zachary said. He does not want to be in the spotlight or in the paper at all.”

Later, Kitts emphatically denied making the remarks.

“No, I did not say ‘burned to the ground.’ I would never say that,” Kitts said, adding her version of her remarks: “I told Bradley, ‘Rep. Zachary comes from a very conservative district and Rep. Zachary is a Republican and very conservative. Yes, he is an attorney and, yes, his home and his law office are in Yadkinville. And I do believe he wants to vote to uphold his beliefs and his district’s beliefs.’ That’s what I told him.”

Kitts also said she told Hardy that she understood his position, because she has cousins, friends and relatives who are gay.

“I can’t believe he said that. That infuriates me,” Kitts concluded.

But Hardy said he is absolutely certain on what he heard Kitts say.

He was surprised by the response from Zachary’s office.

Hardy said he knows Kitts was likely making a figurate reference. But he is frustrated that an elected official or his office would be so open about the kind of pressure he’s facing and still not take a stand to vote against a bill he doesn’t believes in.

“I had never heard that from any elected official,” Hardy said. “Even if they don’t believe in something, they’ll pretend like they do and this is someone he has hired who is openly admitting … that there are parts of the bill he doesn’t agree with.”

Hardy’s also disappointed that Zachary has shown a lack of courage in standing against Senate Bill 2.

“I’m really frustrated,” he said. “I’m especially upset with the hypocrisy of an attorney admitting something is unconstitutional and then as a legislator voting for it.”

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When the bill was considered in the House last week, Zachary opted not to vote on the bill’s second reading. On its final vote, Zachary voted for the bill.

That comes after, Hardy insisted, Zachary told him he had concerns with the bill.

“I am familiar with Senate bill 2. I think it is probably unconstitutional,” Zachary said in an email, according to Hardy.

Zachary is on a family vacation this week. Several calls to a number for him provided by Kitts went straight to a voicemail box that is not set up and could not accept messages.

 

READ MORE: Read past updates on Senate Bill 2…

Senate Bill 2 override still possible this week

The House override of Senate Bill 2 was not heard in the chamber today, though it was placed on the calendar.

It will likely be heard on Thursday.

As the chamber was coming to the close of business, several inquiries on Senate Bill 2 were made from Democratic members.

Rep. Grier Martin (D-Wake) cited the state constitution, requiring the chamber to “proceed to reconsider” the measure following its veto last week. Martin asked when the chamber would take the measure up.

Speaker Pro Tempore Skip Stam, then leading the chamber, replied, “We’ll proceed to reconsider when we proceed to reconsider.”

Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) later filed an objection to the chamber’s failure to consider the veto in a “timely and prompt manner,” saying the lack of movement was “not consistent with the constitution.”

READ MORE: Follow the latest from the N.C. legislature…

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

4 Replies to “N.C. rep’s staffer: Voting against anti-LGBT magistrate bill would result in rep’s home, law office being ‘burned to the ground’”

  1. And yet people keep electing lawyers to the legislature. How soon they forget that an attorney is someone you pay to protect yourself from other members of his profession; basically it’s a big protection racket, a very lucrative one.

  2. Rep. Zachary has a right to be concerned because he not only took an oath [NC General Statutes – Chapter 11] to uphold the laws and the constitution of North Carolina as an attorney but also as a North Carolina State Representative, where the oath clearly state’s without prejudice, favor, affection or partiality. Senate Bill 2 ,Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies.2015-2016 Session is clearly a violation of the North Carolina State Constitutions Article 1, Section 1. Furthermore; Rep. Zachary may I remind you that Magistrates and Register of Deeds take the same oath as you. If these Magistrate’s and the Register of Deeds wants to be paid with tax dollars that belong to me, they need to leave their church at home or find another job.

  3. Would he rather have a bunch of people outside his law office handing out flyers saying he’s a bigot and people should take their business elsewhere?

  4. It wouldn’t surprise me if she relayed that message. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Rep. received such comments from some of his constituents. After all, they’ve been telling LGBTQ people that we are going to burn in the flames of eternal hell for years and many of them view it as their duty to help us get there.

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