Perdue responds to government critics

Gov. Beverly Perdue smiles as she delivers the State of the State address during a joint session of the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, March 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

November 25, 2009 9:29:15 PM PST
Critics say the process of appointing people to powerful state boards has been high-jacked by money and politics.Last week, Joe Sinsheimer wrote to Governor Bev Perdue asking her to demand Ruffin Poole step down from the Board of Directors of North Carolina's Golden Leaf Foundation, which doles out millions of dollars in economic development money each year.

"We can no longer ignore what is going on," Sinsheimer said.

Poole is one of former governor Mike Easley's closest advisors while Easley was in office.

During the recent state Board of Elections hearings on Easley, the board wanted Poole to testify under oath. But as a former lawyer to Easley, Poole refused claiming attorney client privilege.

Sinsheimer said people should not sit on prestigious state boards if they stone-wall state investigations.

And Perdue responded to his concerns in writing, but she did not mention Poole by name.

She wrote, "my staff is exploring policies to remove any gubernatorial appointee who is indicted or who fails to cooperate with an investigation."

"If you are elected or you are appointed, you're level of trust demands more," said Perdue on Tuesday. "You got to do better than regular people. That's what I've asked my appointees."

The Easley hearings have raised questions about other state boards too.

Easley had placed McQueen Campbell on the NC State Board of Trustees at the age of 30 -the youngest ever- and then made him chairman.

In hearings, Campbell showed he had given $87,000 in free secret plane flights to Easley.

And Gary Allen had sat on the state's Wildlife Resources Commission. Allen, a coastal developer, had given $100,000 to the Democratic Party over two years during the time he wanted to be re-appointed.

The state Court of Appeals eventually said Poole can be forced to testify before the Board of Elections.

The Elections Board Chair said Wednesday that they will likely call him soon and Poole did not return calls.

Meanwhile, Governor Perdue is paying a California company nearly $700,000 to help add transparency to government.

"Mimosa Systems" will install and maintain software for e-mail archiving. The governor says state e-mails are public record.

She adds a more transparent government creates a better government.

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