Ad Watch | Attack on Bev Perdue


Republican Governors Association

What the ad says

Audio: Announcer: “Bev Perdue took thousands of dollars from political fat cats who needed her.

“A sweetheart deal to rest-home owners, costing millions. A slush fund costing millions more.

“Perdue's insider friends, corruption, conflicts of interest. One in jail. Two resigned from a state board. Even Democrat Richard Moore says ‘Status Quo Bev' is…”

Moore: “So typical of someone who has led the go-along, get-along club in Raleigh for 20 years.”

Images: The ad flashes newspaper headlines and words such as “conflict of interest” over shots of shadowy figures. The ad concludes with the statement made by Moore at a debate during the Democratic primary for governor.

What the record shows

Although the ad isn't specific, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association said the sweetheart deal claim refers to the 1999 state budget, which included $3.7 million to pay for a rate increase for rest homes. Drafts of that budget disappeared, apparently because they didn't contain the provision, lobbyists for the industry told the (Raleigh) News & Observer. Perdue was a chief senate budget writer then.

The industry said the increase reflected the actual cost of running the homes.

Three years earlier, Perdue's campaign received $19,000 from a rest-home operator and his family members. Prosecutors charged the operator with trying to circumvent the state's contribution limit by giving donations in others' names. Perdue's campaign returned the money and a prosecutor said there was no evidence that Perdue knowingly accepted illegal contributions. The prosecutor made similar findings about the governor, lieutenant governor and another senator.

The “slush fund” claim refers to the fiscal 1997 and 1998 state budgets. Editorial writers criticized Democratic and Republican legislative leaders over a provision that allowed them to spend $21.3 million on building renovations and other pet projects not approved by the full legislature. Critics called it a “slush fund.” Perdue defended it as a way to pay for projects when the legislature wasn't in session.

Former Speaker of the House Jim Black is serving a five-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to taking thousands in cash payments from chiropractors interested in issues before the legislature.

Two Perdue fundraisers have quit the state Board of Transportation this year. Thomas Betts quit after he was found to have pressured a city official in Roanoke Rapids to raise money for Perdue's campaign. She said she was not aware of how he was trying to raise money. Louis W. Sewell Jr. quit the board after revelations that he steered road work to areas near property he or his son co-owned.

During a debate in the primary, Moore, the state Treasurer, made the statement about Perdue when she challenged him to explain why Roanoke Rapids was allowed to borrow money for a theater project featuring country music performer Randy Parton. After the primary, Moore endorsed Perdue in an e-mail, although he has done little else publicly to help her campaign.

Is the ad accurate?

Not entirely. It's true that two men with ties to Perdue have quit the transportation board. Other than belonging to the same political party, Perdue had no strong ties to Black. The legislature, including Perdue, did give a rate increase to rest-home operators.

It's a stretch to blame Perdue alone for the pet projects included in the budgets. Republican and Democratic leaders in the legislature were responsible for the provision.

Benjamin Niolet, (Raleigh) News & Observer