Local Politics

GOP again tries to link Perdue to allegations against Easley

Posted February 17, 2010 2:24 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2010 5:40 p.m. EST

— State Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer on Wednesday tried to tie Gov. Beverly Perdue to allegations of wrongdoing by her predecessor.

Fetzer asked the State Board of Elections to expand its investigation into Perdue's campaign finances, questioning some of the campaign flights she received in recent years and whether donors tried to buy favors from her.

In October, the elections board ordered former Gov. Mike Easley's campaign to pay $100,000 for not reporting dozens of campaign flights provided aboard donor's private aircraft.

Fetzer said several of the 31 flights Perdue's campaign has reported in recent months were aboard corporate planes – state laws prohibit companies from donating to political campaigns – and he questioned the timing of the reporting and the valuation her campaign placed on the flights.

Oscar Harris, Perdue's campaign treasurer, has said the previously unreported flights were picked up during an internal audit of campaign finances after switching to a new software program.

Fetzer also noted that 12 people subpoenaed in the elections board's investigation of Easley contributed to Perdue's campaign and the state Democratic Party.

During the hearing into Easley's campaign finances, some donors testified that, after they had reached the $4,000 limit for contributions to his campaign, they gave money to the Democratic Party with the understanding that it could be routed back to the Easley campaign.

Some of Easley's donors also worked to get environmental permits approved for coastal developments, and Fetzer noted that one of Perdue's donors head the North Carolina subsidiary of Titan America, which last fall was able to obtain a draft air quality permit from state regulators for a proposed cement plant near Wilmington.

"We think all this is indicative of a continuation and long pattern of callousness and disregard for the election laws of North Carolina. We think it needs to be investigated thoroughly," Fetzer said.

Perdue defended her fundraising, saying all of her donations are legal and that her campaign has tried to ensure everything is reported properly.

"While we're about doing the people's work and help put people back to work, you have others throwing rocks and creating issues that aren't there," she said.