Who is funding the bathroom wars?

by A.P. Dillon

Raleigh, NC – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard about the ‘bathroom bill’ in North Carolina.

The outrage industry has been working 24/7 ramping up boycotts of North Carolina  and encouraging big businesses to browbeat the state’s government officials.

All of this costs money. Where is it coming from?

There are three main groups visible in this fight – The Human Rights Campaign, Equality NC and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Equality NC is the only one based here in North Carolina. The other two are based in Washington, D.C.

Equality NC is a 501(c)3 based in Raleigh whose 2013 reported revenue was only $491,720. The only paid staffer was Director Chris Sgro. Sgro was recently appointed to complete the term of Rep. Ralph Johnson (D-Guilford) in the North Carolina General Assembly, after Johnson passed away unexpectedly in March.

One might assume Sgro would have resigned his position to avoid conflict of interest, yet according to the Associated Press via Charlotte Observer, Sgro took the oath on April 24 and notes he will remain Director of Equality NC. As of an email sent on April 21, Sgro’s name was still appearing on Equality NC’s anti-HB2 fundraising emails.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is also a 501(c)3 organization. It reported revenue of over a million dollars in 2013. That was quite a jump from their 2012 filing of $274,414. It is unknown where this large boost in contributions came from.

Mara Keisling is the executive director of The National Center for Transgender Equality. According to Keisling’s bio, he is a male who identifies as female. Keisling was a recent guest at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety as Keisling was arrested on Monday, April 25 at a Moral Monday-orchestrated HB2 protest.

(Image: Human Rights Campaign)

(Image: Human Rights Campaign)

The Human Rights Campaign has been the most vocal opponent of HB 2 in North Carolina and is the organization largely responsible for enlisting CEOs of large corporations to pressure legislators and state officials to repeal HB2.

The Human Rights Campaign has both an incorporated arm and a foundation arm. Both are financial juggernauts, according to their IRS 990 filings. There also appears to be a political action committee arm funded by the Foundation, which  pertains to lobbying.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is a 501(c)3 and saw revenues in 2014 of $13.8 million. Contributions included $12 million and expenditures were listed at $14.9 million, which put the Foundation in the red.

It is important to note that the Human Rights Campaign Foundation funds an “educational” program called “Welcoming Schools.” This program is dedicated to infusing LGBT issues into K-5 classrooms via “anti-bullying” lessons and select pieces of literature.

According to Welcoming Schools’ About page, these lessons are Common Core aligned:

Welcoming Schools offers professional development tools, lessons aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and many additional resource for elementary schools on:

Charlotte Mecklenburg School District has been  engaged with Welcoming Schools since 2013. Do parents realize this?

The Human Rights Campaign, Inc. is a 501(c)4 and Chad Griffin is the president. Griffin’s combined compensation in 2014 was over $429,000.  Net revenue that year for the Foundation was $38.5 million with contributions of $28.3 million and expenditures of $35.4 milloin. That’s a net gain of $3.1 million.

So, taken together, Human Rights Campaign Inc. and the Foundation took in $52.3 million in 2014.

In the lobbying arena, OpenSecrets.org was useful in tracking down the Human Rights Campaign’s activities.  Below are some bullet point summary items via OpenSecrets.org.

This outside spending group does disclose its donors to the FEC, but no non-generic donors/employers have been identified that have contributed more than $1,000. Donations from affiliated organizations are excluded when calculating the top donors.


  • Total spent: $1,168,809
  • By party: Democrats: $1,044,830 (89%), Republicans: $66,203 (6%)
  • $1,085,808 came from PACS, $21,225 from individuals, $40,000 soft organizations.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was the top recipient at $30,000.
  • Contributions to candidates: $928,072
  • Contributions to Leadership PACs: $43,500
  • Contributions to parties: $135,461
  • Contributions to 527 committees: $21,575
  • Contributions to outside spending groups: $40,000
  • The total of contributions to candidates from Human Rights Campaign PACs ($906,097) is 43 times larger than contributions from individuals ($20,975)
  • 13 out of 24 Human Rights Campaign lobbyists in 2013-2014 have previously held government jobs

As these bullet points show, the Human Rights Campaign donates almost exclusively to Democrats.