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The News & Observer - McCrory Criticizes Rival about Ethics Questions

News Article

Location: Raleigh, NC

The News & Observer - McCrory Criticizes Rival about Ethics Questions

Benjamin Niolet

Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory on Wednesday continued his attacks on Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and her ties to a Board of Transportation member who is under ethics scrutiny.

McCrory, mayor of Charlotte and a Republican, criticized Perdue, a Democrat, for being unsure over whether to attend a fundraiser hosted by Louis W. Sewell Jr. of Jacksonville. Sewell is a Perdue fundraiser and a Board of Transportation member who steered hundreds of thousands in state road money to projects near property that he or his son owned.

Sewell's practices, reported Sunday in The News & Observer, led the state transportation secretary to report Sewell to the N.C. State Ethics Commission. On Tuesday, reporters asked Perdue whether she planned to attend a fundraiser Sewell was hosting this week. She said she might. Later, Sewell announced that he was canceling the event.

McCrory said Perdue's response is typical of the "corruption and arrogance" of state government.

"The ethics of Lt. Gov. Perdue's campaign has reached a new low," he said.

A Perdue spokesman did not address McCrory's comments directly but lobbed a barb at the Charlotte mayor, who has repeatedly complained about negative campaigning by Perdue.

"Positive Pat is showing his true negative colors," said campaign spokesman David Kochman, who added that McCrory received a donation from a strip club owner and has not objected to campaign ads funded by outside groups.

McCrory also said Wednesday that he is unsure whether the State Ethics Commission, the bipartisan panel that investigates and rules on ethics violations, can do its job objectively when it comes to Perdue.

McCrory cited an incident in which a lawyer in Perdue's office was allowed to review Perdue's ethics filings in private. That has been at the center of a turf battle between the ethics commission and State Auditor Les Merritt, a Republican running for re-election.

McCrory also said three commission members have donated money to Perdue's campaign.

"This is perhaps the best example of an insiders' culture, a culture of the power elite running state government," McCrory said. "Can we trust the Ethics Commission when they have already acted improperly on behalf of Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue?"

Bob Farmer, the chairman of the State Ethics Commission, dismissed McCrory's criticisms.

"McCrory's probably taking all the information that's furnished to him by the state auditor," said Bob Farmer, chairman of the commission. "Everything the state auditor has said, as far as I'm concerned, is totally bogus."

State Board of Election records show that three commissioners -- two of whom are Republicans -- gave money to Perdue before they were appointed to the commission. Sitting members are prohibited from making contributions.

Farmer said ethics commission members do their jobs without prejudice.

"I don't care if they're Democrats or Republicans," he said. "They call it like it is, and they've done it, and they're doing it now."

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