Local Politics

Lawyer: Elections board asking too much in Perdue probe

Posted April 30, 2010 4:50 p.m. EDT

— The attorney for Gov. Beverly Perdue's campaign is complaining that State Board of Elections staffers are reaching too far in their investigation of Perdue's travel records.

The elections board has been investigating Perdue's campaign for months after the discovery of previously unreported political flights.

Since last summer, the campaign has disclosed 31 flights Perdue took aboard donors' private planes since 2000, worth a combined $25,400. Some of the flights were classified as in-kind contributions on amended campaign finance reports, while the campaign repaid some donors for the flights they provided.

Campaign officials have said they discovered the unreported flights after switching to new financial software and auditing previous records.

On Thursday, campaign attorney John Wallace sent a letter to Gary Bartlett, executive director of the elections board, questioning why investigators demanded all of his records on the flights, including his notes and other materials he considers privileged material between him and his client.

"The Perdue Committee has engaged in extensive efforts to achieve compliance with applicable law," Wallace wrote. "We have therefore been surprised that, having undertaken these efforts, we have been asked to produce all of our records, including those records gathered during the course of my supervision of the compliance efforts."

Bartlett responded that his staff would sit down with Wallace next week to discuss the issue. He said further documentation likely wouldn't be needed in the case.

He said he hopes to have the investigations into Perdue and other gubernatorial candidates wrapped up in the coming weeks.

"I’m sure the request was well-intentioned, but they asked for materials that were both unnecessary and privileged," Wallace told WRAL News.

Last fall, the elections board ordered former Gov. Mike Easley's campaign to pay $100,000 for not reporting dozens of flights he took aboard donors' planes.

Easley's campaign still owes $94,000 of the penalty, but recently filed campaign finance reports show the campaign is almost $211,000 in debt. It also has more than $116,000 in outstanding legal bills.

The flights also are part of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation into Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while in office.