@NCCapitol

NC DOT executive explains how letters were altered

Posted June 20, 2012

— A top North Carolina Department of Transportation leader said Wednesday his office needed to quickly send to lawmakers letters edited by Gov. Beverly Perdue's staff that appeared to reverse his earlier statements on two toll projects.

DOT's Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogdon was speaking to a Senate committee investigating correspondence sent under his signature with details altered without his express approval. He said a Perdue aide insisted that Trogdon's signature be on the letters.

The letters appeared to change his earlier correspondence sent to budget-writers that $63 million for the projects wasn't necessarily needed next year. Trogdon quickly disavowed the letters' contents. Now, Senate Republican leaders believe they were misled with the June 14 letters, distributed just before a key budget floor vote.

Trogdon is also a National Guard general who was in Charlotte on a military exercise while the changes were made. He said DOT employees in his office were pushed to finalize the letters before the budget debate.

Trogdon said Perdue aide Pryor Gibson had edited a draft of Trogdon's response to two legislators about whether $28 million was needed next year for the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge on the northern Outer Banks and $35 million for the Garden Parkway west of Charlotte.

The edits, Trogdon said, were presented to DOT staff "as a factual statement reviewed by the governor's staff and attorneys and must be completed" by 10:45 a.m. June 14. The Senate floor debate began shortly after 11 a.m.

Trogdon said the edited version of the letters was originally supposed to be signed by DOT Deputy Secretary Susan Coward for him, but Gibson "stated that it had to come from my signature." Trogdon's digital signature was placed on the letters, he said.

He said Coward was put in a very difficult position and felt pressured. Although he had already told lawmakers the funding wasn't needed this year, he said Coward believed he would approve the letter, based on what Gibson told her.

Jim Trogdon, chief operating officer of N.C. DOT DOT official says Perdue adviser pressured staffer

"She's known (Gibson) for 20 years and trusted his statement and judgment, and in this case, that judgment was flat wrong," Trogdon told WRAL News.

Gibson, a former state House member considered a key lobbyist for Perdue at the legislature, is supposed to speak to the panel Thursday, said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson.

"The real crux of this inquiry at this point (is) who signed the letter and why," Apodaca said.

He said Tuesday that the inquiry into the letters isn't meant to question Trogdon's integrity.

Trogdon said he couldn't speculate on Gibson's motivations but said he apparently misinterpreted a budget provision.

"None of our staff had any desire or indication that they were trying to mislead anyone. They thought it was factual based on its face value." he said.

A Perdue spokeswoman said Tuesday that members of the governor's staff "suggested some edits" to Trogdon's draft and that Perdue and DOT – in coordination with General Assembly members – want "to ensure that these projects move forward as quickly as possible."

DOT leaders have tried over the past few years to remove the perception that political considerations trumped facts and figures when it comes to road-building decisions.

"Our objectives and our mission (have) been to restore trust and confidence in DOT to be the very best stewards of our existing resources," Trogdon said Wednesday.

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  • lessismore Jun 21, 2012

    Pet projects put on hold because documents were forged???? Is that what I am reading???? Who submitted the documents, who forged them?

  • YippiYiyoKiYay Jun 21, 2012

    A Perdue spokeswoman said Tuesday that members of the governor's staff "suggested some edits" to Trogdon's draft and that Perdue and DOT – in coordination with General Assembly members – want "to ensure that these projects move forward as quickly as possible.".........What? The Queen of the losers passes up an opportunity to put that angry face of hers on camera? Oh, that just means she won't have to take the heat when it's proven to be a lie. Isn't it about time for another asinine veto? Busy, busy, busy!

  • JustAName Jun 21, 2012

    "she should have resisited the aide's demand for changes to the letter, when she knows that could be all it takes to have her employment ended" - Bendal1

    Hmmm, no job or convicted of a the Federal crime of fraud? That sounds like a tough one. You would hope that those working for "the people" would be able to make that easy decision.

  • dollibug Jun 21, 2012

    ++++++Why is it that every time someone in this government gets caught it's a misunderstanding, confusion, misread, out of context etc? I guess it's just a nice way to say lie, cheat, and steal.

    This is how they cover their a$....excuses, excuses, excuses....when in fact....it can all be labeled a form of *corruption and cover up*....

  • dollibug Jun 21, 2012

    This is kind of like the woman judge who just signed paperwork without knowing what she was signing....does anyone actually do anything by rules and regulations these days? Or perhaps this is like the GRAND JURY who *rubberstamps indictments without any proof of evidence*....it happens....whether we like it or not...and NO ONE is held accountable for their actions....does anyone anywhere *admit responsibility*?

  • whatelseisnew Jun 21, 2012

    This is not some "misinterpretation". This was a fraud. But as is quite typical the person responsible for the fraud will not be held accountable.

  • lessismore Jun 21, 2012

    Isn't forgery a crime?

  • Bendal1 Jun 21, 2012

    Yeah, right, "superman". Coward's job can be terminated at any time by the Governor's office. You think she should have resisited the aide's demand for changes to the letter, when she knows that could be all it takes to have her employment ended? Besides, she has known this person for years, so again, why should she question what he wants.

    You're just doing the usual Monday Morning Quarterbacking, which all too many people on this forum do. The problem wasn't with Coward or any DOT employee, but the Governor's office and aides for wanting the letter changed without Trogdon knowing about it.

  • superman Jun 21, 2012

    If the pressure for Asst. Deputy Coward cant take the pressure--perhaps she needs to go home or resign. Maybe a new job as janitor that has less pressure would be more suited for her.

  • lec02572 Jun 21, 2012

    Perdue and her staff thought they could slide one by the legislatures and got caught. Certainly will be glad to see her and her sidekicks gone.

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