Local Politics

Watchdog calls on Perdue to clean up state government

Posted November 18, 2009

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— As a federal grand jury continues investigating former Gov. Mike Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while in office, a political watchdog says Gov. Beverly Perdue needs to take steps to restore confidence in state government.

"If we get executive leadership, we usually get results," said Joe Sinsheimer, whose complaints prompted campaign finance investigations of former House Speaker Jim Black and former state Rep. Thomas Wright.

cement Perdue won't halt cement plant's permits

Sinsheimer sent a letter to Perdue Wednesday asking her to halt the permits for a planned cement plant near Wilmington for 90 days and ask Attorney General Roy Cooper to investigate whether any political pressure has influenced the environmental permitting process.

Opponents of the $469 million Titan America LLC plant along the Cape Fear River in Castle Hayne have said the company has tried to bypass emissions restrictions. They also noted the close ties Titan lobbyist John Merritt has to Easley.

Merritt, a former Easley aide and current law partner, has denied any wrongdoing.

"Make sure that there's been no undue influence to date. The decision the Easley administration made to exempt that plant from the state environmental permitting process is nonsensical," Sinsheimer said.

He cited recent evidence in a State Board of Elections hearing into Easley's campaign finances, where campaign staffers were soliciting large donations from real estate developers at the same time as the developers were seeking permits for coastal projects.

"It's pretty clear that there were two environmental permitting processes in this state. There was the regular permitting process going on, and then there was the fast track for political insiders, for campaign donors," he said.

Perdue said there was no immediate plan to freeze any permits, but she said she would refer the matter to the proper authorities.

"I'd have to have the attorney general or a team of state lawyers tell me that there's an apparent legal reason that the permit should be delayed because I don't want to get in the middle of another lawsuit," she said.

Sinsheimer also called on Perdue to release all investigative reports on missing records for Easley's travel.

The State Highway Patrol, which handles security for the governor, turned over its records to the federal grand jury in May, but all records for 2005 were missing. The patrol conducted an internal investigation but released only a four-page summary that cleared the former chief of security of wrongdoing.

Perdue said details of the missing records are tied up in the grand jury's investigation, abut she promised to release the information eventually.

“It’s a public document. Everything will be made public the moment I have it in my hands,” she said.

Sinsheimer also said that former Easley lawyer Ruffin Poole should be removed from the Golden LEAF board of directors. The Rocky Mount-based foundation uses money from the nationwide tobacco litigation settlement to fund economic development projects.

Poole fought a subpoena seeking his testimony in the elections board's hearing into Easley's campaign finance. Sinsheimer said that shows Poole doesn't meet the "highest ethical standards" the foundation should maintain because it is doling out millions of dollars.

21 Comments

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  • hdonthefarm Nov 19, 2009

    Bev's in with this crowd as deep as Easley ever was. They might as well put a Port-A-Potty on the capital lawn.

  • ladyblue Nov 19, 2009

    You would be wrong to think this means Republicans would be honest, forthright, and effective.

    Last I heard the democrats controlled NC seats. I know Easley is.. But it doesn't matter who they are or what party they belong to to if they are crooked they need to be weeded out. But as long as the people in this country keep taking jabs at each opposite party I don't' see much changing. While they're barbing each other the crooks are getting richer no matter the party. I think the country would be better off if it did away with parties........

  • ladyblue Nov 19, 2009

    Opponents of the $469 million Titan America LLC plant along the Cape Fear River in Castle Hayne have said the company has tried to bypass emissions restrictions. They also noted the close ties Titan lobbyist John Merritt has to Easley.

    Very interesting. Since it seems to be government is the ones who pass the bills that indirectly push up the costs of industries operating here, Mr Easly is side stepping legislature he probably supported. yes very interesing

  • areyououtofyourmind Nov 19, 2009

    Mako,

    By following your recommendations for voting based on credentials, your boy BO wouldn't be in office!!

  • prn13norm Nov 19, 2009

    Crooks like foxes should not be in charge of the hen house.

  • arfamr1006 Nov 19, 2009

    Perdue was a part of the slEasley bunch...don't see her EVER takin out any trash

  • Here kitty kitty Nov 19, 2009

    But she is already being transparent and open. Have there been any results noted from her recent trip to Japan and China, like how much she spent for rice and sushi?

  • MakoII Nov 19, 2009

    mgratk,

    Of course NC Democrats have historically controlled many seats and are corrupt.

    You would be wrong to think this means Republicans would be honest, forthright, and effective.

    Any time you have a CLUB, you have CORRUPTION. Period.

    It's the nature of organized humans.

    Any external aim gets supplanted by internal preservation. That's how organization always are. That's why you always need a NEW one. (CIA, NSA, then HOMELAND, what next?)

    The ONLY reason our government even marginally works for so long is it's pitting interest against each other. But they're controlled interest. Very filtered.

    Very few people have been able to get through this filter that were truly Great.

    And if you look at them, it's often by dumb luck that the party at large was fooled.

    Lincoln & Teddy Roosevelt come to mind. Both became President by strange luck.

  • Space Mountain Nov 19, 2009

    I don't think Bev is a bad person. I just think she is in over her head as governor.

  • ifcdirector Nov 19, 2009

    That would require some sort of moral and ethical epiphany for not just Bev herself but for the entire state democrat cabal and that's not going to happen as they are only too happy to ask someone to fall on their sword for the greater good of furthering their awful agenda at any cost.

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