Local Politics

Hagan: Let U.S. attorney finish investigations

Posted May 20, 2009 11:47 a.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2009 2:56 p.m. EDT

— U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said Wednesday that the Republican-appointed U.S. attorney should remain on the job until investigations of two leading North Carolina Democrats are finished.

George Holding, whom former President George W. Bush named three years ago as the top federal prosecutor in eastern North Carolina, had been expected to leave the post following President Barack Obama's election.

Hagan, a Democrat, had established a committee to screen candidates for U.S. attorney so she could nominate a candidate for approval by Obama and the U.S. Senate.

Holding's office is investigating the campaign finances of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and former Gov. Mike Easley's dealings with friends and contributors. The office also is looking into how Easley's wife obtained a high-paying job at North Carolina State University.

"I believe he should have the opportunity to complete the investigations," Hagan said, adding that she wanted to keep the probes separate from politics.

"It is of the utmost importance to me, as well as to the people of North Carolina, that we ensure this process is carried out as transparently and honestly as possible,” she said.

Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr supported Hagan's move. "I hope the president will allow (Holding) to remain in his position," Burr said.

Also Wednesday, Gov. Beverly Perdue ordered the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety and the state Highway Patrol to implement a formal policy for maintaining travel records of the governor and lieutenant governor.

State troopers provide security for the two state officials, but patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said there never has been a policy for handling records of their travels.

When the FBI subpoenaed Easley's travel records last week, the patrol found that records for 2005 were missing. The agency is conducting an internal investigation, and Capt. Alan Melvin, who headed Easley's security detail, has been placed on administrative duty.

“I’ve pledged to run an open and transparent administration,” Perdue said in a statement. “This new protocol will provide clear direction for how the state Highway Patrol executive security detail collects and retains travel records.”

The new travel record form will include detailed information about each trip outside of Wake County taken by the governor or lieutenant governor when a member of the executive security detail provides protection. All records will be maintained by the Highway Patrol for four years after the governor or lieutenant governor’s term, at which point they will be transferred to state archives.