State News

New ethics rules approved for state boards, commissions

Posted December 9, 2009 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated December 9, 2009 7:02 p.m. EST

— Gov. Beverly Perdue signed three executive orders Wednesday to establish tougher ethical standards on state boards and commissions.

Perdue said the new restrictions will ensure appointees serve citizens and not leave the impression they are serving their own interests. The executive orders also expand the number of panels and officials who are subject to state ethics laws or ethics rules in her administration, she said.

"Whether it's a prison guard or a mental health worker or a member of one of the boards, if they're going to (break rules) and be part of North Carolina's enterprise, we're going to hold them accountable," Perdue said. "We're going to call them out, and we're going to get rid of them."

The orders permit the governor to remove an appointee if he or she is indicted on a felony or refuses to cooperate with a federal or state investigation. They also require gubernatorial appointees to attend at least 75 percent of a board's meetings each year or face getting fired.

Perdue also agreed to new conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements for 17 advisory panels.

She defended one of her own Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission appointees who technically could be ousted under the new rules. Surf City Mayor Zander Guy was convicted of insurance fraud in the 1980s, but the governor said Guy has been pardoned and deserves a second chance.

Open government advocates applaud the new ethics guidelines, but added that they will push for even broader reforms next year.