The price of being mean: cost of defending HB2 is $176K, and growing

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks concerning House Bill 2 while speaking during a government affairs conference in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, May 4, 2016. A North Carolina law limiting protections to LGBT people violates federal civil rights laws and can't be enforced, the U.S. Justice Department has said.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks concerning House Bill 2 while speaking during a government affairs conference in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, May 4, 2016. A North Carolina law limiting protections to LGBT people violates federal civil rights laws and can't be enforced, the U.S. Justice Department has said. AP Photo/Gerry Broome

More than $176,000 in legal bills have been racked up by North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and state GOP legislative leaders to defend the law directing transgender people to use school or government restrooms corresponding to their birth certificate.

According to an Associated Press review of legal bills already submitted and made available through a public records request, law firms in Washington and Charlotte representing legislative leaders have charged more than $129,000 and McCrory’s lawyers have billed nearly $47,000. This is only a partial tab of what state taxpayers are on the hook for as not all of the law firms working on the case have submitted invoices yet and the case is likely to take months if not years to resolve.

Last week, the NBA pulled its 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte because of the law, which denies anti-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. That means an estimated lost economic impact of $100 million from the most high-profile event to announce its withdrawal.

A court date has been set for Monday to hear arguments from those who want a federal judge to block enforcement of most of the law. Federal Judge Thomas Schroeder is expected to begin trials on up to four of the lawsuits on Nov. 14.

The North Carolina legislature and McCrory have several outside lawyers representing them in at least five federal lawsuits involving all or portions of what’s known as House Bill 2. Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper has said he won’t defend the law, which also prevents local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules designed to protect LGBT people at restaurants, hotels and other public accommodations.

State lawmakers last month agreed to take $500,000 from a disaster relief fund and give it to McCrory’s office for litigation related to the law.

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