Mayor removed from list of supporters of McGrady's HB2 bill

ASHEVILLE – A company handling social media accounts for state Rep. Chuck McGrady said Wednesday it mistakenly included Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer as supporting his legislation to repeal HB2.

McGrady and the mayor engaged in debate online earlier this week over whether she supported House Bill 186, sponsored by the Henderson County Republican and known to supporters as the "compromise bill."

House Bill 2 requires that transgender people use restrooms in public buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates. The law also blocked state anti-discrimination protections from covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

McGrady’s legislation would repeal HB2 but would retain some limits on whether local governments could pass their own nondiscrimination ordinances.

Under the latest proposal, lawmakers would still control policy decisions over the use of multi-stall bathrooms in public buildings. The measure also would increase penalties for certain crimes that occur in public restrooms or locker rooms.

It also says cities could require referenda on local ordinances that expand anti-discrimination protections.

The bill has the support of some Democrats but has been shunned by many LGBT and civil rights organizations.

McGrady's Facebook and Twitter accounts named Manheimer and other groups including the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce as having "asked explicitly to be mentioned for their support of the bill."

Manheimer's name was removed after she took to Twitter to say she didn’t support the bill but wanted to continue discussions that could lead to a compromise.

"I take full responsibility for including Mayor Manheimer on the list of HB186 supporters that appeared from his (McGrady’s) Twitter account, constituent services website, and Facebook page," said a representative of InTouch NC who would not provide a name in an email to the Citizen-Times.

"Things were obviously moving very fast yesterday, and in an effort to provide Rep. McGrady's constituents and social media followers with the most up-to-date information regarding the status of his legislation, I mistakenly included the mayor on the list of people and organizations that supported his bipartisan compromise bill repealing HB2."

McGrady said Wednesday other people post to his social media accounts and he was aware of Manheimer's stance.

"I’m sorry if someone made a mistake, but it wasn’t me," he said.

The InTouch NC email was sent after he asked for an explanation, McGrady said.

"There was no conflict between the mayor and I," he said.

InTouch NC is a affiliated with Moffitt International. The executive recruitment firm was started by former Republican state representative Tim Moffitt.

Kit Cramer, president and CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday that the business lobby group was happy to be mentioned in McGrady’s Twitter and Facebook accounts as supporting a bipartisan approach to ending HB2.

"Were we expressly asked about a statement? No. But given the tweets, Facebook posts and calls we made, the support may have been implied," she said.

Kit Cramer, president and CEO of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce (Photo: Citizen-Times)

Cramer declined to say whether the chamber was in support of HB186 in its current form.

"We support the spirit of the bill, which we see as ending HB2 in a bipartisan way, now," she said.