North Carolina's governor planted questions from fake reporters to avoid talking about the state's 'bathroom law'

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North Carolina has suffered major fallout over its controversial "bathroom law" that could lead to anti-LGBT discrimination — and Gov. Pat McCrory's team is trying to avoid questions about it.

At a lunch event at the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club in Charlotte last week, McCrory's staff planted "softball" questions from fake reporters about unrelated topics, according to The Charlotte Observer.

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The moderator of the event introduced the questions as coming from The Observer, however they had all been written by McCrory's staff, the Observer found.

When an actual Observer reporter attempted to ask a question, McCrory shut it down:

"We've got three Observer questions answered already. I think you guys dominate the news enough," he said.

The press conference was held the same week the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference announced they were pulling 15 college sports title events from the state because of the law.

The law, known as House Bill 2, prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for LGBT people, and bars transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the Republican-backed legislation into law in March.

More on HB2 and the controversy surrounding the bill

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Protests against North Carolina transgender bathroom law
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Protests against North Carolina transgender bathroom law
ASHEVILLE, NC - JUNE 21: A display inside Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina features books by authors who support the repeal of HB2 on June 21, 2016. Malaprop's has had authors cancel and a decline in sales due to North Carolina's HB2 legislation, commonly known as the bathroom bill, and the resulting boycott of the state by authors, athletes and tourists. (Photo by Jacob Biba for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ASHEVILLE, NC - JUNE 21: A sign next to the men's bathroom inside Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina denounces North Carolina's HB2 legislation on June 21, 2016. Malaprop's has had authors cancel and a decline in sales due to North Carolina's HB2 legislation, commonly known as the bathroom bill, and the resulting boycott of the state by authors, athletes and tourists. (Photo by Jacob Biba for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ASHEVILLE, NC - JUNE 21: A bulletin board inside Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina features upcoming author visits and events scheduled for the bookstore on June 21, 2016. Malaprop's has had authors cancel and a decline in sales due to North Carolina's HB2 legislation, commonly known as the bathroom bill, and the resulting boycott of the state by authors, athletes and tourists. (Photo by Jacob Biba for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 16 - Protestors gather across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building as they voice their concerns over House Bill 2, in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 16, 2016. House Bill 2, also known as the Bathroom Bill, which requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate, has received the attention of national media and the White House. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 16 - Protestors gather across the street from the North Carolina state legislative building as they voice their concerns over House Bill 2, in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, May 16, 2016. House Bill 2, also known as the Bathroom Bill, which requires transgender people to use the public restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate, has received the attention of national media and the White House. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
DURHAM, NC - MAY 10: The 'We Are Not This' slogan is posted at the entrances to Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 (HB2) that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Elaine Martin, right, listens as Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
Joaquin Carcano, center, the lead plaintiff in the case, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. Joaquin was born a woman and is now a man. Simone Bell with Lambda Law is at left; Chris Brook with the ACLU is at right. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
TO GO AFP STORY BY BRIGITTE DUSSEAU - Transgender delegates Jamie Shier (L) and Janice Covington pose for photographs at the Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012. The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that US President Barack Obama would move his acceptance speech from the outdoor Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena due to predictions of thunderstorms. AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)
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HB2 has also cost North Carolina the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, which the league moved from Charlotte to New Orleans. Some companies have frozen expansions in the state, and numerous entertainers including Bruce Springsteen and Maroon 5 have cancelled concerts in protest.

A UCLA estimate pegged the state's potential losses at $5 billion a year.

McCrory, who is up for re-election, has defended the law as necessary to ensure children's privacy and safety.

McCrory's campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz said his team was asked by event staff to provide pre-written questions "in order to keep the conversation format going."

Hood Hargett Breakfast Club executive director, Jenn Snyder, said that's not true. According to Snyder, club events routinely take questions from the floor, but McCrory's staff insisted on the pre-written format, according to The Observer.

The questions, which The Observer labeled "softballs," were about what McCrory plans to do with his next term, how he would reduce the state's rape-kit backlog, and how the state's crime lab performed under Attorney General Roy Cooper, McCrory's Democratic opponent.

The Republican governor apologized to The Observer's opinion editor after the event.

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