Gov. McCrory let a bill pass without his signature, allowing $500,000 to move from a disaster relief fund to defend against lawsuits stemming from HB2.
“The governor would have preferred that the money come from the Attorney General’s budget since that’s who is refusing to do his job,” the governor’s spokesman Josh Ellis said when asked why McCrory didn’t sign the bill, News & Observer reports.
The McCrory administration released a statement claiming the funds will not be used to defend HB2. The statement, issued by Bob Stephens, General Counsel for Gov. McCrory, reads, in part:
“Due to the North Carolina Attorney General’s repeated refusal to fulfill his statutory duty to represent the State in litigation, my office retained outside counsel to prosecute, and when necessary to defend, these lawsuits. However, contrary to media reports, we have not used any disaster relief funds to pay the legal expenses relating to these lawsuits.
“During the recent legislative short session, the General Assembly recognized that Attorney General Cooper’s disregard for his job would impose costs on the state and transferred $500,000 to be used for litigation expenses out of the state’s emergency response and disaster relief fund.
“However, the governor did not ask the General Assembly to allocate the funds from this emergency response and disaster relief fund and he did not sign into law the bill which did so. More importantly, under Governor McCrory no disaster relief money has been used to pay for legal expenses related to the bathroom lawsuits. Instead, available funds from agency and departmental budgets have been and will be used for this expense. The administration’s fiscal prudence and sound management in the last four years allow the state to pay these costs without impacting our considerable savings for emergency situations.
“Governor McCrory has made the state’s rainy day fund a key budgetary priority. He understands the importance of having disaster relief funds available in case they are needed. Under his leadership, the state has added more than $1.1 billion in savings to build up a nearly $1.6 billion reserve. While the Attorney General’s failure to act has imposed costs on the taxpayer, it will not be impacting our ability to respond to emergency situations.”