“Northrop Grumman was about to move 300 employees to Virginia to their national headquarters. Because of that action, they sent word that deal could be scuttled. Governor Bob McDonnell had to intervene to save the deal.”
The “that action” McAuliffe cites refers to a in March 2010 letter that Ken Cuccinelli sent to the state’s public colleges and universities asking them to remove references to sexual orientation from campus nondiscrimination policies. He argued that only the General Assembly had the authority to extend legal protections to gays.
The letter prompted student and faculty protests. Some warned that academic talent might bypass Virginia because of Cuccinelli’s stance. At the same time, some called on defense contractor Northrop Grumman to reconsider a planned expansion in the commonwealth that was then in the works.
The issue was diffused after Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) issued a directive to state employees prohibiting workplace discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
A spokesman for Northrop Grumman declined to say whether the defense giant threatened to relocate elsewhere because of the controversy, saying the company does not comment on its dealings with government officials.
The verdict: McAuliffe makes a connection here that can’t be proven. Northrop Grumman made no public threats about reconsidering its relocation plans and would not detail any private conversations it may have had with state officials.