Perdue Stands in the Way of Stronger Ethics Reform
News & Observer reporters combed through documents from the Governor’s office to expose the difference between Governor Perdue’s rhetoric since taking office and the policies she has actually put forward.
Documents and memos from Perdue’s office show the governor had considered a more ambitious plan than the one she is now supporting publicly. One draft document, a planned news release, quotes her as saying she would shock the old political establishment by ending “smoke-filled rooms” and “pay-to-play” politics.
When her plan was rolled out last month, it was praised by many. But it was still cast as a first step in an ongoing effort to make change, and it did not include a number of ideas to change the influence of money on elections or put more sunshine on it.
Perdue has not included in her current agenda an idea to set limits on the amount of money that political parties can dole out to candidates, for example. She had supported those limits while campaigning.
Twenty-nine states curb party donations as a way of spreading out the sources of money in elections and limiting the influence of big-money donors. In North Carolina, the political parties can receive an unlimited amount from a person and can provide an unlimited amount to candidates. Individual donors are subject to a maximum contribution of $4,000 for a candidate in an election.
Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, a longtime campaign-finance watchdog group, said elected officials must tackle “the very flow of money itself” if they are serious about change.
Other proposals rejected by Perdue:
Allowing state investigative grand juries, a request backed by Attorney General Roy Cooper, also a Democrat. The grand juries are seen as a way to enable state prosecutors to investigate public corruption and not leave that work to federal authorities.
Holding politicians financially responsible for their campaign’s misdeeds, a change sought unanimously by the State Board of Elections, whose members Perdue appoints after getting a recommendation from the state political parties. Former Gov. Mike Easley’s campaign, for example, was fined $100,000 last year but is broke.
Forcing more disclosures by political fundraisers who are appointed to major boards and commissions, an idea that passed the state House last year 115-0.
Making it easier for the public to see who is using state-owned aircraft and where the planes are going by posting the information online.
Prohibiting legislators and top elected officials from soliciting contributions for their favorite nonprofits from lobbyists, a practice that critics say gets around a ban on meals and travel and allows lobbyists to curry favor. Perdue was outspoken against the practice while campaigning.
In a brief interview, Perdue did not specifically explain why she is pushing for some ideas but not others.