Fickle billionaire and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, blistered for donating to $10,000 to HERO opponents, now wants his cash back, though he still doesn't support the non-discrimination ordinance.
Maybe it was the national scorn. Or the shaming by gay Houston teen and Texans fan Jeremy Brener. Or the possibility of losing Super Bowl 2017 if HERO fails. Or maybe it was an overreach by HERO opponents, who pimped the donation as supporting every nasty, transphobic, hateful move they've made in their campaign against HERO.
Yep, that last one. McNair's tipping point seems to be Campaign for Houston portraying his donation as supporting the group's anti-LGBT views and rhetoric. McNair said that was more than he bargained for – nevermind Campaign for Houston's publicly awful efforts so far or McNair's open checkbook for anti-gay politicians. (He's donated $3.4 million since 2009, according to Texas Monthly.)
So McNair asked for a refund on Friday, releasing a statement to clear up any confusion about his motives. He's against HERO but not so much against the gays. Consider it a freshened up spin on that old haters adage "hate the sin, love the sinner."
McNair's statement via Outsports:
I recently made a personal contribution to Campaign for Houston because my thorough review of the HERO ordinance led me to believe that a thoughtful rewrite would provide a better ordinance that would provide strong non-discrimination protections for all Houstonians, which I would support, and would be less divisive of our city.
It was on these principles that I made my personal contribution to Campaign for Houston. To my great dismay, Campaign for Houston made numerous unauthorized statements about my opposition to HERO in print, broadcast and social media - including attributing certain statements of belief to me. Their actions and statements were never discussed with nor approved by me. Therefore I instructed the Campaign to return my contribution.
I do not believe in or tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind. I also believe that we Houstonians should have an ordinance that unites our community and provides a bold statement of non-discrimination. I encourage all Houstonians to vote on November 3.
Robert F. Kennedy once said, "Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work together to change a small portion of events, and in the total of those acts will be written the history of our generation.
Campaign for Houston's Hater In Chief, Jared Woodfill, downplayed McNair's do over – because of course he did – and blamed HERO supporters for the billionaire's change of heart. Really.
Woodfill attributed McNair's decision to rescind the check to national backlash. He said the campaign would not cash the check from McNair.
"Anytime you're high-profile and you take a stance on this issue you get attacked," Woodfill said. "But we appreciate the original donation and we believe, from his statement, that his opinion on the ordinance has not changed."
HERO supporters applauded McNair's refund request.
"Like Bob McNair, many Houstonians are taking a step back and realizing the opposition’s ads on the Equal Rights Ordinance are intended to raise anxiety with outright distortions and, quite frankly, lies," Richard Carlbom, Houston Unites campaign manager, said in a prepared statement.
"When you take a second look, the Equal Rights Ordinance protects all Houstonians from discrimination and makes Houston a place everyone can be proud to call home. And that’s why the majority of small and large businesses in Houston support Proposition 1," he added.
Voters will decide HERO's fate on Nov. 3.