Bev Perdue starts a tire fire
Last week our esteemed governor said, “I think we ought to suspend elections for Congress for two years.” Perdue apologists claim that the governor was just joking, and Bev echoed that sentiment the following day, telling reporters she was “just being sarcastic.” That may be, but dismissing her gaffe as a harmless ad lib would be a mistake. Perdue is a calculating political animal. Every word she utters and every move she makes is carefully weighed for maximum effect and personal advantage.
As a state senator she was involved in an alleged drunkdriving crash and investigated for insurance fraud. By some miracle she managed to escape unscathed physically and politically. During her 2008 campaign for governor, Perdue accepted over 40 free flights to fund raising events which went unreported. A subsequent State Board of Elections probe ended abruptly before her campaign manager could be called to testify. Once elected, Perdue tried to eliminate State Superintendent June Atkinson’s constitutional responsibilities so that the governor could appoint her own person to oversee education. Only Bully Bev would be arrogant enough to appoint someone to a position that another person had already been elected to. Concurrently, Perdue also made a unilateral decision to take lottery proceeds and apply them to the General Fund instead of to school projects as had been promised. In short, Bev Perdue says and does whatever it takes to advance her own political agenda. Not surprisingly, she has just provided us with yet another reason to dislike and mistrust her.
A few days after Perdue’s election suspension “joke,” the Associated Press reported that a German tire maker is looking to locate in Brunswick County and create 1,500 jobs. To sweeten the pot, the state is poised to offer the tire company a lucrative, taxpayer-funded incentives package which would cover the cost of purchasing an 1,100-acre tract of land. The problem is that the land belongs to a small group of investors who also happen to be major contributors to Perdue’s campaign. They include state Sen. Michael Walters and big time farmer David Stephenson, the latter of whom was appointed by Perdue to the board of the Golden Leaf Foundation which will help pay out incentives to be used for the land purchase. Walters and company purchased the property in 2007 for $3,800 per acre, and now plan to sell it to the State for $6,000 an acre.
And so, a group of men who gave Bev Perdue over $50,000 in campaign contributions now stand to make over $7 million from a land deal being funded by taxpayer incentives through a foundation to which Stephenson belongs because Perdue put him there. Meanwhile, the AP also reports that Perdue’s son Garrett, an attorney with Womble Carlyle, was instrumental in identifying the property as a site for the tire maker.
As expected, the bad actors in this morality play have either made full disclosures or recused themselves altogether due to conflict of interest. How noble. How convenient. How calculated. Does anyone really think that the foundation or the legislature will now turn their backs on 1,500 new jobs just because the governor’s son and her campaign donors stand to profit from a land sale? Not likely. Not in this economy. And when the deal is all said and done, no one will be investigated, censured, reprimanded, fired or imprisoned. For Perdue the sins just keep piling up, but the sinner just keeps skating around them.
Over the past three years I have grown weary of calling for Perdue’s resignation. It’s just not going to happen, no matter what she says or does, or who she cozies up to. Still, it will be interesting to see how she goes about putting out this particular fire, and that’s appropriate because, like most tire fires, Perdue is out of control, and everything she does stinks to high heaven. Perhaps Brunswick is where the rubber will finally meet the road for Beverly Perdue.
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).