WRAL Investigates

Documents reveal political influence in DMV

Posted August 13, 2009
Updated August 14, 2009

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— State Division of Motor Vehicles documents subpoenaed as part of a federal grand jury investigation into former Gov. Mike Easley show high ranking state officials were involved in the hiring process.

The names of the DMV employees have been redacted from the public documents, but the high ranking influence is clearly spelled out. Applicants were recommended by Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, then-Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, former Sen. John Kerr and Ruffin Poole, Easley's former legal counsel, among others.

Wayne Hurder Former DMV official compiled political influence list

"There's a fair amount of pressure to hire people," said Wayne Hurder, the former DMV deputy commissioner who compiled the list. "People had to have their finger in the DMV pie."

Hurder put the list together at a time he was under scrutiny for questionable hirings. He said he was fired for not attending a political fundraiser, and he recently won an out-of-court settlement after challenging his firing.

"Everything I did was within the requirements of the law," he said.

Hurder's list of applicants details the DMV hiring connections: "A friend from Enfield," "husband DOC Supt.," "Tracy's Ex," "promised mother would hire," and "married to UNC VP" were some of his notations.

Rand, D-Cumberland, said he frequently refers people for jobs, but he argued that he doesn't cross the line and demand that someone be given a job.

"If someone you know and respect calls you and tells you Fred is a good guy, you then view Fred a little differently," he said. "Now, (do) I call up somebody and say, 'You better hire this person, or I'm going to fire you?' No, absolutely not."

Hurder said that, despite politics, most people hired by the DMV are qualified. Many referrals don't get jobs, he said, but political ties clearly pushed through some applicants.

"In several cases, there was undue influence, absolutely," he said.

In one case he noted, Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, called to change a DMV decision. Hurder also said Poole often influenced hirings.

"He called, and everyone knew he spoke with the authority of the Governor's Office. What happened at N.C. State rang true from my experience," Hurder said.

Three top North Carolina State University officials have resigned in recent months over questions about the university's hiring in 2005 of Easley's wife, Mary Easley, and her promotion last year to a $170,000-a-year job.

Poole and Jenkins couldn't be reached for comment.

Rand and Hurder agreed that a state hiring law passed in 1997 helped reduce much of the political patronage in state government, but not all of it.

DMV Commissioner Mike Robertson, who wasn't in charge of the agency when Hurder was there, issued a statement Thursday defending the agency's hiring practices.

"The Division of Motor Vehicles adheres to state personnel policies for hiring and follows the state-approved merit-based hiring system," Robertson said. "Any citizen may submit recommendations or referrals concerning a job applicant. DMV requires these to be put in writing so they can be ... considered with the application as a whole.

He said Hurder compiled his list for his own use and said the DMV "has no knowledge as to the truth or accuracy of any of the information provided."

The federal grand jury ordered the DMV to turn over all correspondence between agency officials and the Easleys, some members of Mike Easley's staff and several of his political contributors.

The grand jury is investigating Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while in office, including his travel, Mary Easley's job at N.C. State and land deals along the coast.

47 Comments

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  • james27613 Aug 14, 2009

    NC can produce a weekly reality show about the corruption in our State Agencies and Universities.

    The cable tv and ad revenue will more then balance our budget.

  • lkanzig Aug 14, 2009

    if this is a shock to you people, you really need to get your head out of the sand!
    this state has more crooked politicians than any other state i have seen!

  • ridgerunner Aug 14, 2009

    This should be obvious to the most casual observer.

  • affirmativediversity Aug 14, 2009

    Mr. Rand, apparently, people were fired when they didn't take your little calls seriously enough!

    DEMOCRATS...had enough yet?

  • SWEET-N-SOUR Aug 14, 2009

    It's who you know, not what you know and has been that way for a long time....ask the clerk of court employees in Cumberland...most are not qualified but either has a family member working there or knew the right person. Heck half of the post office employees in Cumberland County are kin.

  • Alert5 Aug 14, 2009

    I'M SHOCKED ITELL YOU, SIMPLY SHOCKED - NOT!

    This state's Democrat political party's power over all that they survey has got to end!

    REMEMBER IN 2010!!!!

  • pbjbeach Aug 14, 2009

    question:

    Is it truely a fact that the pen is really mighter than the sword. thank you

  • pbjbeach Aug 14, 2009

    DWS :

    I personnaly am in 100% agreement with your post on here for i have previously posted the same statement on golo myself with regards to other issues that have been borught to light pertaing to the ncdot thank you

  • artist Aug 14, 2009

    So far... this has been a great year for exposing how corrupt our government has become. If we do not do something about it in the next elections then we suck.

  • GWALLY Aug 14, 2009

    WOW...do I hear an orgy of dissention among the natives..??? Coul it be everyone is FINALLY TIRED of government corruption???? Then WHY OH WHY do you continue to elect the SAME people to represent YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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