Perdue talks ethics

Published 12:18 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Staff Writer

As the State Board of Elections prepared to discuss unreported campaign flights taken by Gov. Beverly Perdue during her bid for the office she holds, the governor answered questions about ethical issues in a brief interview Friday.
According to The Associated Press, Perdue campaign attorney John Wallace addressed an elections-board meeting in Asheville on Monday, acknowledging that Perdue had made mistakes in reporting the private flights.
Against the backdrop of the flights issue Friday, Perdue was asked to respond to recent reports by the Raleigh News &Observer, which had reported that Elections Director Gary Bartlett hired several of his friends to work with the board.
“I’ve read the same articles that you all have read, and I have had the same kind of standards for the board of elections as I do for all of the state agencies, which is to hold them accountable, to require them to be totally transparent and to adopt the state ethics codes,” she replied. “And I believe that they are in the process or have done that. I think that we all need to be sure that our election process is untainted and that the board does offer the best thing that we each have to offer in this country, which is the right to vote.”
The N&O also reported that Printelect of New Bern has “a near monopoly” on printing ballots in the state, and that the company’s president has made significant campaign contributions to Perdue and other state Democratic candidates.
Tom Fetzer, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, has called on Perdue to see to it that Bartlett is fired.
“The continuing examples of incompetence and corruption at the State Board of Elections demand that its leadership be replaced,” Fetzer was quoted as saying in a GOP news release. “However, Governor Perdue has no intention of removing people who have been working to protect her.”
Fetzer further criticized the state board’s handling of allegations that Perdue took advantage of “illegal and unreported air travel,” the release reads.
For her part, Perdue said she ran for the office she holds on the premise of increasing transparency and accountability in state government.
“And that’s what I’ve been in the process of,” she commented. “I have never backed away, never hidden anything.”
As an example, she pointed to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Work Program, which DOT’s website says “defines clearly what the department will do with anticipated resources and sets clear goals.”
The program takes the politics out of road-funding allocations, the governor indicated, adding that state Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, who sat in on the interview, “can’t get a project done” in isolation.
“It’s done by a quota system,” she continued, “It’s done fairly, so it’s not who you know but what your numbers say and how your community needs it.”
Perdue also referred to proposals to sell and privatize the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control system, which has drawn the fire of system-reform advocates following reports of unusually high salaries and cozy relationships with liquor companies in a handful of areas.
“We’ve worked aggressively on the ABC system, and I’m still trying to evaluate whether we’re going to recommend whether it’s going to be sold or kept the way it is,” she said, nodding to an incoming assessment of the system’s value.
“Those numbers come back later this month,” she said.
Sounding one of her frequent themes, the governor asserted it was her goal to “set North Carolina’s government straight” before the end of her term.
“We have been relentless about exposing flaws, whether it was in probation and parole or the Highway Patrol or any of the backbones of state government,” she said.