Local Politics

Perdue bans gifts to executive branch employees

Posted October 1, 2009 4:39 p.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2009 9:52 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Beverly Perdue on Thursday signed an executive order banning gifts to all employees in cabinet-level departments.

The move comes amid a State Bureau of Investigation probe into whether Division of Motor Vehicles workers broke the law by accepting gifts and meals from Verizon, which has a multimillion-dollar computing contract with the DMV.

“This executive order makes it clear: Those of us who serve the people of North Carolina must be held to the highest ethical standards and act accordingly,” Perdue said in a statement. “Citizens expect and deserve nothing less.”

The state's gift ban for employees previously included only workers directly involved with contracts or the inspection or supervision of construction.

DMV Commissioner Mike Robertson said Tuesday that Verizon claims 62 state workers or their family members received Carolina Hurricanes hockey tickets, restaurant meals, spa services and other benefits from company employees between August 2006 and January 2009.

Jane Pinsky, director of the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, said her group backs the wider gift ban.

"Recent revelations of contractors providing gifts to state employees is undermining public confidence on state government’s contracting process," Pinsky said in a statement. "Gov. Perdue’s executive order to expand the gift ban to cover all executive branch state employees is a positive step forward, but a gift ban standard should apply to all state employees, and we urge the legislature to pass such a law next legislative session."

Under Perdue's order, all executive branch agencies are required in the next 30 days to go over the state's gift ban and Perdue's executive order with employees and have them sign a statement noting that they are aware of the policy. Agencies also must establish a policy to include information about the gift ban in orientation for new employees.

The state Department of Administration must notify state contractors of the expanded gift ban and include information about it in all future contracts.