Local Politics

Big-money bash set for Perdue's birthday

Posted January 8, 2009 5:46 p.m. EST
Updated January 8, 2009 9:27 p.m. EST

Money in hands

— The North Carolina Democratic Party has scheduled a birthday reception for Governor-elect Beverly Perdue that has raised questions among political watchdogs.

The Jan. 22 party at a private Raleigh home solicits donations from attendees ranging from $500 for a "friend" to $10,000 for a "host."

"The big question is where the money goes," said Bob Phillips, executive director of North Carolina Common Cause.

Individuals are limited to $4,000 in contributions to political candidates annually, but political parties can accept unlimited amounts of money and can give unlimited amounts to candidates or elected officials.

"I think political parties can and should raise money for their benefit. It's just that unlimited transfer to an elected officer or a candidate that we have problems with," Phillips said.

Perdue's campaign finance reports show she and her husband, Bob Eaves, loaned her campaign more than $900,000 and that the loans are outstanding.

Kara Bolton, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party, says the fundraiser is for the party, not Perdue. Yet the invitation tells those wishing to attend to RSVP to Perdue's Web site.

Kim Strach, deputy director of the State Board of Elections, which enforces campaign-finance regulations, said a political party cannot earmark donations for a candidate. However, it would be hard to prove a connection if the party were to give Perdue some money after the reception, she said.

"There can be no strings attached to it. There cannot be any discussion between the contributor and the party that that money will land in a particular place," Strach said. "You can't give in the name of another. You can't earmark contributions. That's clear. Proving that is not quite as easy."

Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson declined to comment on the fundraiser and referred all questions to the Democratic Party.

Phillips said he's sure some sort of tacit agreement exists between the party and elected officials to hand over money raised at events like Perdue's birthday party.

"I think that's how the money is solicited," he said.