Local Politics

More flights reported by Perdue campaign

Posted January 29, 2010 2:23 p.m. EST
Updated January 30, 2010 6:12 a.m. EST

— Gov. Beverly Perdue's campaign committee has reported another eight flights aboard private aircraft dating to 2000, according to information filed Thursday with the State Board of Elections.

Jack Trabucco, a retired Air Force officer who manages an aviation firm in New Bern, provided five flights between November 2000 and October 2005 totaling $1,878. All five were treated as in-kind contributions.

Perdue's campaign reimbursed donors for three other flights:

  • DM Farms of Rose Hill, owned by hog baron Wendell Murphy, provided a March 2004 flight valued at $326.
  • Shearin Companies Inc., an Enfield-based firm that sells manufactured housing, provided a flight in October 2004 valued at $338.
  • Fulenwider Enterprises Inc., a fast-food franchisee based in Morganton, provided a November 2006 flight valued at $1,993.

Since last summer, the campaign has uncovered a total of 31 flights aboard private planes that were previously unreported. The donors who provided 21 of the flights have been reimbursed, while the others were included on amended campaign finance reports as in-kind contributions.

The combined value of the 31 flights was more than $25,400.

State campaign finance laws forbid corporate donations to candidates and limit individual contributions to $4,000 per election cycle.

Campaign treasurer Oscar Harris said that campaign officials have been auditing Perdue's campaign finances after the campaign shifted to a new software program. The officials have come across the previously unreported flights in the process, he said.

"We've been working with the state board for many months now," Perdue campaign spokesman Marc Farinella said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. "We (felt) an obligation to do it."

The elections board in October ordered former Gov. Mike Easley's campaign to pay $100,000 for flights he took on private planes. The board also turned its findings over to prosecutors to determine whether Easley should face any criminal charges in the case. A decision is expected by February.

Republicans argue the disclosures aren't much different from Easley's flights, which also have been investigated by federal prosecutors. A local district attorney is also examining elections board evidence to determine whether Easley or others should face criminal charges."

"This is yet another case of Governor Perdue breaking the law and then, with the political protection and financial resources of a seated governor, reporting the violations," state GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer said in a prepared statement.

Bob Phillips with Common Cause North Carolina said the number of flights previously undisclosed by Perdue bothered him but believed the governor had been deliberate in her first year in office to make state government more open and transparent.

"I don't think it's a hollow gesture on her part to be proactively examining her campaign finance reports ... even in the wake of the Easley scandal," Phillips said.