Bev Perdue should resign (Part 2)

by Jim Longworth

In April of last year, I called on Bev Perdue to resign over the 41 free flights she had failed to report during her campaign for governor. My reasons were simple. Free flights are the same as cash donations, except they are more valuable. A campaign donation of $5,000 will only buy you $5,000 worth of advertising, but a flight worth $5,000 transports the candidate to a fundraising event where she can raise 10 times that amount. Multiply that by 41, and you can see how those free flights gave Perdue a staggering advantage over Pat McCrory, whose final vote deficit could easily be explained by the reach Perdue acquired through advertising made possible by her jet jaunts.

Now, there’s even more reason for Bev to step down. WTVD-TV just released a 15-year-old FBI report they acquired through the Freedom of Information Act which gives us a disturbing insight into Perdue’s past behavior and mode of operation dating back to her time as state senator.

In 1995, Perdue wielded a great deal of power, including that of appropriations for a number of state agencies, including the highway patrol. On the eve of July 4 of that year, Perdue attended a party in Raleigh where alcohol was served. On the drive back home she crashed her car into “something.” Instead of calling 911, Perdue called the highway patrol and asked for her “friend,” whose name was redacted in the FBI report. Perdue filed a questionable claim with State Farm Insurance, and the HP’s internal affairs department sat on the matter for some six weeks before filling out a full report on the crash incident.

In October, Perdue pressured crime control chief Brad Wilson into promoting three of her friends in the Patrol, one of whom was transferred to the internal affairs division where a job was created for him. This was in violation of a state statute that limits the number of supervisory positions in the HP. Another of the three officers was Randy Glover, the man believed to be the “friend” who Bev called after the crash. Glover was transferred to Perdue’s home base of New Bern and given a 25 percent raise. HPIA never determined what Perdue’s car struck, and the FBI eventually closed its case against the senator for lack of evidence.

Flash forward to January 2009. As soon as Bev was sworn in, she appointed Glover to head up the NC Highway Patrol, after which the agency was plagued by a spate of bad behavior, ranging from officers driving drunk to inappropriate sexual contact with civilians to abuse of K-9 dogs. The HP was spinning out of control, but that should have come as no surprise to those who knew how Perdue had operated during her career. After all, if a politician abuses her power to appoint officers, it’s no wonder those officers and their subordinates feel free to abuse theirs.

WTVD spoke with retired FBI Agent Frank Perry who now works with the Foundation for Ethics in Public Service. Perry said that misconduct in the patrol is due to “politicians having too much influence in the agency, and the only way to fix it is to end political patronage.”

At a press conference in July 2010, Perdue was asked about her abuse of power, to which she replied, “I have never intervened in promotions.”

Knowing she had been caught in a lie, the governor re-emerged nine days later with a revamped statement, admitting only to having made, “recommendations on which men and women deserved recognition….”

As for the 41 free flights, Perdue escaped with a slap on the wrist. That’s because the chairman of the State Board of Elections (who had also been appointed by Perdue) quashed a full investigation, including interrogation of Bev’s campaign manager. That was then and this is now. Fortunately (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) Republicans now control Raleigh, and that means Perdue’s influence will be severely curtailed. Bev is a lame-duck shark without teeth, so if the Democrats have a shot next year, she should resign now and let Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton show how our state can be governed by an honest, thoughtful chief executive for a change.

Yes, it’s time for Bev Perdue to take another flight. This one back home to retire. I’ll even pay for her air fare. All I want in return is a receipt, and a job with the highway patrol.

Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).