Lego prepared for questions on Youngkin, critical race theory in Va.

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RICHMOND — The Lego Group delivered a major gift to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) this week with plans to open a $1 billion factory in Chesterfield County, but it briefly made public a frequently asked questions document that seemed to distance the company from Youngkin’s conservative stance on race and the environment.

The FAQ is no longer accessible online, but was seen by several news reporters — at least one of whom posted images of it on Twitter. At a time when the Walt Disney Co. is at odds with the state of Florida over LGBTQ policies, and major companies frequently make business decisions based on social issues, the document highlights questions about whether Youngkin’s tilt to the right will affect Virginia’s reputation in the business world.

Noting that Youngkin “has made prohibiting ‘critical race theory’ in K-12 classrooms a key pillar of his policies,” the FAQ asked whether Lego supports that stance.

“We stand against racism and inequality,” the company said in response to its own question, adding that Lego has “donated to organisations that support black children and educate all children about racial equality.”

Another question asked why the company would locate “in a state where the governor supports non-renewable energy, such as coal, and is critical of renewable energy investment?”

Lego answered itself that it had extensively researched the state and was confident it could carry out an “ambitious sustainability agenda.” The new facility, which is set to employ more than 1,700 people, is designed to be carbon neutral and features a solar energy power plant.

“Virginia is one of fewer than a dozen states that has a 100 percent carbon neutrality commitment, and we are happy to do our part by investing in the on-site solar plant to provide the energy we need to operate our factory,” the FAQ continued.

Youngkin has criticized the ambitious renewable energy agenda passed last year when Democrats were in control of the General Assembly and the governor’s mansion, and has vowed to extract the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — a multistate compact setting up a cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions credits.

The FAQ was briefly included Wednesday among the fact sheets and videos that Lego’s outside public relations firm released around the announcement.

“The document was intended for internal use only and shared in error,” the Lego Group said Thursday night in a statement, adding that the company is “looking forward to starting work” on the factory “and contributing to the local economy and community.” The plant is scheduled to open in the second half of 2025.

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter declined to comment, though she said she was not aware that the FAQ had been removed.

Virginia has won CNBC’s award as the top state for business for an unprecedented two years in a row, both times under Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. The award singled out Virginia for inclusive policies such as diversity requirements for state agencies, expanded access to the vote and anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ workers.

Youngkin was recognized for diversity practices when he was co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group private equity firm, but has adopted a far more hard-line stance since running for office last year.

He courted the red base of the GOP with dire warnings about critical race theory, an academic framework for the study of systemic racism that was not on Virginia’s K-12 curriculum, and made a prohibition of the topic his first executive action as governor. He also launched an effort to purge racial equity programs from schools and established a “tip line” for parents to accuse teachers or administrators of exposing children to subjects they find objectionable.

The state has continued to land new businesses under Youngkin, who has called economic development a priority. In addition to promoting the Lego announcement, Youngkin has touted recent decisions by Boeing and Raytheon to relocate their corporate headquarters to Arlington.

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