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Three face charges tied to Perdue campaign

Posted November 28, 2011
Updated November 29, 2011

— Three people connected to Gov. Beverly Perdue's campaign were indicted Monday on charges stemming from an investigation into her campaign finances.

Trawick Hamilton "Buzzy" Stubbs, Julia Leigh Sitton and Peter Anthony Reichard are charged with obstruction of justice, and Stubbs and Sitton are also charged with certifying false campaign finance reports.

The State Board of Elections fined Perdue's campaign $30,000 last year for not reporting dozens of campaign flights aboard donors' planes during the 2004 and 2008 elections until late 2009.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby reviewed the information from the elections board's investigation and last fall asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter further to help him determine whether any criminal charges were warranted.

Perdue has acknowledged that her campaign made mistakes reporting flights, but she has insisted that there was no criminal intent.

"Mr. Willoughby has asked that I not comment on any of this, but I will say that he pointed out one more time that I wasn't involved in any of this," she told WRAL News.

Stubbs, the former law partner of Perdue's late husband and a longtime friend of the governor, provided his private plane for several campaign flights between January 2007 and November 2008, according to the indictment. The trips were valued at $28,000, and he reported them as in-kind donations to the North Carolina Democratic Party instead of to Perdue's campaign.

At the time of the flights, the indictment states, Stubbs had already contributed $4,000 to Perdue's campaign, which is the maximum allowed under state law for a specific election.

Stubbs said he was "saddened" by the charges, noting that he has cooperated with the investigation since the beginning.

Gov. Bev Perdue Republicans go on offensive with Perdue staffer indictments

"It was never my intent to violate any law, and I intend to plead not guilty," he said in a statement. "I never asked for any favors nor have I received any personal benefit from my support and help advancing Beverly Perdue's campaign for governor."

Reichard, who was finance director for Perdue's 2008 gubernatorial campaign, solicited $32,000 from Morganton businessman Charles Michael Fulenwider, according to the indictment. The money was used to pay Sitton, a former director of the governor's western office, for her work on the campaign between August 2007 and November 2008.

Because Fulenwider had already contributed the maximum to the campaign, the money was funneled through Tryon Capital Ventures LLC, a merchant banking firm in Chapel Hill. Reichard is now managing director of Tryon Capital.

Reichard is prepared to go to trial but will try to negotiate a deal with prosecutors, attorney Hart Miles said.

"He's a guy whose going to stand up and admit the things he did but not admit the things he didn't do," Miles said.

Sitton couldn't be reached Monday for comment.

Fulenwider hasn't been charged in the case, but Willoughby said the investigation could lead to more indictments.

Willoughby said nothing has been brought up in the investigation to implicate Perdue or any other elected official in any wrongdoing.

"The governor's conduct is and was never in question," he said.

Still, political watchdog Joe Sinsheimer said the indictments will hurt Perdue's reputation and her chances at re-election next year.

"Why is it that so many people had to break the law to get the governor elected? Even though the governor wasn't charged, she has yet to answer that question," Sinsheimer said. "She's already weak politically. She's trailing her (likely) Republican opponent for the 2012 election (in polls), and this just weakens her."

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes called the indictments the latest indication that Perdue hasn't fulfilled her promise to change state government.

Buzzy Stubbs/Trawick Stubbs, close friend of Perdue Close Perdue friend, two former campaign staffers charged

"The nature of the indictments against Gov. Perdue’s campaign reminds voters of disgraced Gov. Mike Easley, an era they thought they had moved past," Hayes said in a statement.

Easley pleaded guilty a year ago to certifying a false campaign finance report following a lengthy state and federal investigation. The allegations against him also included improperly reporting campaign flights aboard donors' planes.

Perdue said a year ago that federal investigators also were looking into her campaign finances. It's unclear whether that probe is ongoing.

Monday's indictments aren't the first charges to result from the investigation into the campaign flights.

In February, Robert Lee Caldwell of Morganton, a Perdue political contributor, was charged with obstruction of justice. The indictment alleged that Caldwell secretly paid for a plane to fly Perdue to a campaign stop and had another man report it as an in-kind donation.

130 Comments

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  • djofraleigh Nov 30, 11:17 a.m.

    Where is Bev's role in all this? Is she not going to have to make statements under oath?

  • whatusay Nov 29, 4:10 p.m.

    wls47.. says Perdue has been a fine governor (who was just elected for the first time in 100 years) and the Republican legislature has gutted every good program in this state, including clean air, clean water, transportation and infrastructure.

    What about the chicken processing plant trying to locate on the Tar River, will that produce clean air or clean water??? Perdue is for it you know.....What about extending unemployment for 99 weeks and putting our state in deep debt and we are forced to lay off teachers because we are broke. What about her support for illegals in NC, she has never took a stand on illegal immigration. What about her wanting illegals to pay in state tuition to our colleges? Perdue has made this state what it is, not the republicans who just came into power. Sorry, but you don't know what you are talking about. You should not blindly support a politician who has no accomplishments.

  • whatusay Nov 29, 3:11 p.m.

    Seems we have lots of under-qualified people holding high offices.
    Most could not run a booth at a flea market. They lacked the experience and maturity but were elected anyway. Perdue was elected because NC has a "straight ticket" ballot. Just check the democrat box and all democrats get the vote... Candidated should be listed on a ballot, but not their political affliation. If you don't know anything about them you shouldn't vote for them.

  • wls47 Nov 29, 3:10 p.m.

    Ever since I voted for Bev Perdue, the right, and in particular, the Republicans in North Carolina have gone after her in every way possible. This is much ado about nothing. Bev Perdue has been a fine govenor stuck with a Republican legislature that has gutted every good program in this state, including clean air, clean water, transportation and infrastructure. Like Obama, she was handed a terrible mess as a result of a Republican admininstration that has destroyed the quality of America.

  • BrightLight Nov 29, 2:34 p.m.

    Nothing has changed. Remember Mike Easley. Now we have Beverly Perdue with close associates under criminal indictment. Difficult to see how she had no inkling of what was going on in her campaign. However having said that, I suppose it is possible that she might have had the same lack of knowledge relative to her campaign as she does relative to her job as governor. She talks and acts inept. She has the charisma of a cadaver and sometimes publicly projects the image of a scolded puppy when addressing controversial issues. She is in office because of women and black voters for Obama. She IS the quentissential coat-tails winner. We could live with this if she was up to the job but we can't live with it because she is not up to the job. Also, despite campaign promises, the only thing she has changed about the Democrats "good ol' boy" style of NC Dem politics is that she is not a boy. She is setting the bar so low for women successors that a pregnant flea could jump over it.

  • jwood011 Nov 29, 12:10 p.m.

    Pretty funny that she keeps saying she had nothing to do with it even though she IS the one who was on the dozens of flights. Stubbs is a lawyer so he thought he had a sure-fire way he could get around the laws - NOT!! She is ultimately responsible since it was her campaign, just like a CEO is responsible for what happens in the company he/she's running.

  • Caveman93 Nov 29, 11:37 a.m.

    Headline in China would read: Three face firing squad tied to Perdue campaign.

  • jdupree Nov 29, 10:06 a.m.

    I don't believe Beverly Perdue for one minute. You could see the stress on her face yesterday. She is just waiting for the hammer to drop. She says she knew nothing, kinda the Sgt Shultz approach. She flew on the plane, she appointed/hired these folks, she is in it up to her armpits!

  • westernwake1 Nov 29, 9:54 a.m.

    "I am not defending ANYONE. I am pointing out people (like you) would be defending her if she was a Repub." - WooHoo2You

    Very few would be defending this inept, ineffective governor whether she was republican or democrat. Attempting to state that people on this thread would not be saying the exact same things if she was a republican is valueless projection.

    It is time to focus on the facts of what she and her cronies have either done (or not done) irregardless of party.

  • lost in translation Nov 29, 9:48 a.m.

    Very close ties with her very close friends.....very interesting she didn't know what was happening. Maybe someone ought to take the next step and start diggin into private emails and cell phone records of Bev?....The interesting part of all this is that they will not investigate her.....the three will plead and in less than one year, when she is headed out the door, she will pardon them.

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