Group calls on Governor McCrory for leadership on Confederate license plate

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Advocacy groups delivered a petition to Gov. Pat McCrory Thursday morning calling on him to use his executive authority to halt the sale of North Carolina license plates bearing the Confederate flag.

"We are here this morning for one very simple reason," Kevin Rogers announced to a small crowd of reporters and supporters. "To demand that Governor McCrory end the Confederate flag license plate in the state of North Carolina. And we have more than 13,000 petitions to help us do it."

"It was exactly one month ago today," Rogers explained to the cameras, "that Governor McCrory spoke out publicly on this issue."

Rogers is right. A month ago today, Governor McCrory said he wanted the state to stop production of a license plate showing the Confederate battle flag. It's a civic plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans but a recent Supreme Court ruling gives the state the authority to pull the plate if it wants.

As Rogers pointed out, that hasn't happened.

"The Senate's most powerful lawmaker has said that he does not have the power to make it happen and that it is, in fact, the Governor's job to do so. The Governor says that he does not have the power to do it. We think this is getting a little ridiculous," said Rogers.

Both Senator Phil Berger and Governor Pat McCrory have said the other has the authority to stop the production of the plates and inaction has been the result.

A cartoon shown at the news conference portrayed the Governor and General Assembly leaders running away from the issue.

"His claim that he is powerless to control one of his own agencies is downright absurd," said Rogers. "The Governor appoints the Secretary of Transportation, who appoints the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. This is clearly within the scope of his gubernatorial powers. The DMV does not need legislative approval to remove vulgar license plates or sexually explicit license plates and they don't need approval for new license plates."

Contacted Thursday, a spokesperson for Senate President Phil Berger said his position has not changed - he believes the Governor and DMV have the authority to act on the issue.

Both top Republican legislators and the Governor have said they have their lawyers looking into it but Rogers says talk is cheap.

"If Governor McCrory truly believes that the legislature can remove these flags, what is he doing to compel that action? Is he really that powerless?" he asked.

Ironically, the only thing that has happened since the governor called for the plates to stop being made is more of them have gone out.

In the days after Governor McCrory made the announcement, sales spiked and the state ran out of the specialty plate. The DMV ordered 700 more and has sold 150 additional plates in the past few days.

"So this inaction is actually causing harm, right?" Rogers posited. "More of these plates are going out. More of these ideas are going out. The Governor didn't come out last week or two weeks ago about this, it was a month ago that he said this and it's high time that he actually did something about it."

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