Local Politics

Perdue defends Etheridge's new job

Posted February 8, 2011 6:22 p.m. EST
Updated February 8, 2011 7:01 p.m. EST

— Former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge has a new job overseeing North Carolina’s share of the federal stimulus program, but critics are questioning whether the job is necessary.

Gov. Bev Perdue last week appointed the Democrat to replace Dempsey Benton, who departed his position at the Office of Economic Recovery and Investment in November.

Money will go through the program through at least 2012, but nearly 80 percent of the recovery funds have already been spent.

“From my perspective, the job is very necessary,” Perdue said Tuesday, adding that the position also oversees projects already under way.

“I've got to have somebody in that shop that is watching every single report that comes in from the 80 percent of grantees that have already gotten money,” she added. “This is big stuff. North Carolina doesn't have $10 billion if something goes wrong.”

Etheridge will oversee how the money is dispersed and make sure projects under contract are getting done. He defended his position Tuesday.

“Certainly, with those kind of dollars flowing, you want to make sure they are appropriated properly and managed the way they should be,” he said. “Twenty percent of about $13 billion is over $2 billion. That’s a lot of money.”

Etheridge was ousted from Congress in November by Republican challenger Renee Ellmers. He will earn a salary of approximately $98,000 per year in his new job.