Raleigh, N.C. — A Wake County grand jury on Monday asked District Attorney Colon Willoughby to determine whether a supporter of former Gov. Beverly Perdue violated state campaign finance laws.
The grand jury issued a presentment, stating that there was probable cause to believe Charles Michael Fulenwider broke the law by funneling money through a Chapel Hill firm to pay for someone on Perdue's staff during the 2008 gubernatorial campaign.
Fulenwider, a wealthy Perdue donor from Morganton, provided $32,000 to Tryon Capital Ventures LLC to help pay the salary of Julia Leigh Sitton as she worked as a fundraiser for Perdue's campaign.
Sitton and Peter Reichard, Perdue's former campaign finance chief and an executive with Tryon Capital Ventures, have already pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the case.
Grand jurors noted that Fulenwider had already donated the maximum allowed to Perdue's campaign when the scheme was hatched with Reichard and Sitton.
Sitton of Morganton, the former director of Perdue's western office, initially suggested that Fulenwider hire her and allow her to work on the campaign, and Reichard encouraged that arrangement, Willoughby said during Reichard's plea hearing.
Reichard later drew up contracts in which Fulenwider would pay Tryon Capital Ventures $2,000 a month for investment advice, and Reichard would forward the money to Sitton, Willoughby said. The North Carolina Democratic Party also paid Sitton $3,000 a month for her campaign work.
Willoughby said the arrangement lasted from August 2007 through the May 2008 primary, when Fulenwider thought it had ended. Reichard continued to send him invoices for Sitton's work, however, and paid for Sitton's campaign work through the November 2008 election.
Perdue family friend Trawick Hamilton "Buzzy" Stubbs Jr. of New Bern also faces felony charges of obstruction of justice and certifying a false campaign finance report. The charges stem from more than $28,000 in undisclosed flights he allegedly provided during the 2008 campaign on his private planes.