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Retired NC Judge Files Complaint Against New York Ad Referencing HB2

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Former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr has filed a federal complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel arguing a promotional ad for New York State crossed the line into political advocacy when it referenced North Carolina’s House Bill 2 law.

The minute-long ad, which began running in North Carolina in June, features a narrator saying, “Today, New York State continues to champion fairness, equality, and the respectable treatment of those who cannot find it elsewhere. Now, as some in America seem to be forgetting exactly what freedom means, New York state is once again standing up for those whom others try to keep down…”

The narration is juxtaposed against several newspaper headlines flashing on screen, including one from the New York Times published the day House Bill 2 was passed. It reads, “North Carolina Bans Local Anti-Discrimination Policies.”

In his complaint, Orr argues that's a violation of the Hatch Act, a federal law that prohibits state employees from interfering with elections.

In the complaint, Orr argues, “By using public funds to promote New York as supporting certain policies and implicitly criticizing contrary political decision made in North Carolina, an ethical limitation has been breached.”

Orr also notes that the ad has only been running in North Carolina markets, which he argues is a clear demonstration New York is inserting itself into the public policy debate surrounding House Bill Two, and criticizing North Carolina leaders up for re-election.

He names New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Empire State Development in the complaint, and asks the Office of Special Counsel to conduct a full investigation.