Texans owner wants his money back after political donation

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A week after donating $10,000 to a group opposing HERO ordinance, the Texans owner wants his money back. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

A week after donating $10,000 to a group opposing HERO ordinance, the Texans owner wants his money back.

In a tersely worded statement, Texans owner Bob McNair this afternoon asked the Campaign for Houston to return his donation. McNair claims the group attributed statements and beliefs to him without his authorization. The donation was first announced on October 15th - just eight days ago.

Campaign for Houston is the main Houston group opposing Houston's anti-discrimination ordinance. They are most well-known for the television and radio ads urging a no-vote on Houston's HERO over concerns about transgender women using women's bathrooms and locker rooms.

A spokesman for McNair tells abc13 there was no specific statement, but that McNair did not want his donation discussed publicly. The spokesman said Mr. McNair never gave the Campaign for Houston group permission to do so. The spokesman said there was no pressure from the NFL or another team owner to distance the Texans from the HERO battle.

Regardless of Mr. McNair's permission, the donation would have been publicly reported in accordance with Texas law. The next filing is due next week and would've included McNair's check.

"We're thankful for the donation he's made, we're thankful for his opposition to the ordinance in the current form," said Jared Woodfill, who is running Campaign for Houston, the main group opposed to HERO. "We received for the donation and we were asked about his donation."

Houston Unites, the group supporting HERO, says it was pleasantly surprised.

"I would say this is a good development for us," said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Houston Unites. "We really know people like Bob McNair, other Houstonians are taking a second look and seeing Houstonains just want to be treated like everyone else."

Bob Harvey, the president of the Greater Houston Partnership, which also supports HERO, said, "Bob McNair and the Texans have always been committed to making Houston a better place to live. We are pleased he has withdrawn his support for the campaign opposed to Proposition 1."

McNair's full statement:

    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."

    Robert C. McNair
    October 23, 2015
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