Gay Rights Groups, Activists Dump Cash Into North Carolina Democrat Candidates

A PAC run by a North Carolina businessman active in the LGBT community has given donations in 2016 only to Democrats according to Federal Election Commission records. Specifically, this PAC has given only to Democrats Roy Cooper and Josh Stein.

Current campaign filings at the North Carolina State Board of Elections for Cooper’s campaign show the Replacements Ltd. PAC giving an overall amount to the campaign of $5,100. The most current FEC filings show total contributions to Cooper totaling $6,200.

Replacement Ltd. PAC is run by Robert Page of Greensboro, who also owns and runs a dinnerware supply company bearing the same name.

Page, who is gay, is a noted supporter of LGBT rights and known for his financial support of LGBT groups and causes. In 2011, the gay right activist organization Equality NC made Page the ”˜Champion 2011 for the Triad Region’.

In 2015, Page married his long-time partner, Dale Frederiksen, who is also the Vice-Chair of Replacements Ltd. PAC. The couple are parents to twin sons.

According to FEC records, Replacements Ltd. PAC issued a single donation on February 19, 2016 to Roy Cooper in the amount of $1,100. On July 6, the PAC issued another donation to Cooper in the amount of $5,100 and a donation of $5,100 to Josh Stein, who is running for Attorney General.

The most recent FEC filings also show Replacement Ltd. PAC purchasing over $11,000 in yard signs, stickers and buttons promoting Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As of the latest FEC records, Replacements Ltd. PAC has around $11,744 in cash on hand.

The PAC’s website lists their purpose being to, “to influence the election of local, state and national candidates who will best support and promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens.”

Replacements Limited joins the Human Rights Campaign, who has also made contributions almost exclusively to Democrats. The Human Rights Campaign had been involved in orchestrating protests across the state of North Carolina over House Bill 2 (HB2).

This year, the Human Rights Campaign has spend over $437 thousand. Hillary Clinton was the biggest recipient of the Human Rights Campaign spending, at close to $43,000.

According to the FEC records, the PAC’s initial donation in February to Cooper came just three days prior to the Charlotte City Council passing the sweeping facilities ordinance which precipitated HB2.

Page also personally donated $5,100 to Roy Cooper’s campaign in the second quarter of 2016. In the first two quarters of 2016, other employees from Page’s company, Replacements Ltd., gave the Cooper campaign donations totaling over $10,500. Of those donations, $4,950 were given Replacement Ltd.’s general counsel, Andrew Spainhour.

Replacements Ltd. employs an attorney named Ryan Butler. Mr. Butler was hired by Replacements Ltd. in 2013 as counsel for the ”˜legal and community affairs team’. Butler is the spouse of Chris Sgro, the Executive Director for the most prominent gay rights organization in North Carolina, Equality NC.

Sgro was also appointed to the North Carolina State Legislature this past Spring to fill the House seat for District 58. Since being appointed, Sgro has continued to act in a fundraising capacity for Equality NC on several occasions, one of which was in direct opposition to HB2.

These fundraising efforts came after Sgro resigned his lobbying role for the organization prior to being sworn in at the General Assembly. A formal ethics complaint has since been filed over Sgro’s dual roles as both legislator and director of a gay rights activist organization.

The Replacement Ltd. PAC’s website links to only three other organizations, Equality NC, The Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU of North Carolina. Of the fifty endorsements on the Replacement Ltd. PAC website, only four are Republicans.

It is unclear how much traction the PAC is gaining judging by social media. The PAC has no Twitter presence and only established a Facebook group sometime in the end of May 2016. To date that group has only has accrued 38 members.

In addition to donations, Page has used another company of his to pose opposition to HB2. That company is Page Communications Inc., which put up a billboard located along Interstate 40/85 sometime after HB2 was signed into law.

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Page Communications was registered as a Limited Liability Corporation with the North Carolina Secretary of State by Page in 2008.

Page also opposed North Carolina’s Amendment One, a 2012 ballot item that deemed marriage was between one man and one woman. Same sex marriage was already illegal in the state, however Amendment One added a ban on same sex marriage to the state’s Constitution.

Page ponied up $250,000 to fight Amendment One and allegedly received strong backlash for his position from the public and customers of Replacements Ltd.

Amendment One ultimately passed by a wide margin of 61.4% for to 38.96% against.

Three years later in July of 2014, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that bans like Amendment One were unconstitutional.

That same October, the Supreme Court refused to hear the North Carolina case. Just days after the refusal of the Supreme Court, Judge Max Cogburn in the Western North Carolina District Court struck down North Carolina’s ban on same sex marriage and civil unions.

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