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FIRST ON 3: Perdue campaign fined $30k for flight reporting errors

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Gov. Beverly Perdue's campaign has been fined $30,000 by the North Carolina State Board of Elections for errors stemming from its failure to report more than 40 private air flight going back several years.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of the penalties. The two Republican members of the board tried unsuccessfully to raise the penalty to $75,000 or call for a larger investigation of Perdue's campaign through a public hearing.

Perdue campaign spokesman Marc Farinella called the fine a reasonable outcome to a board review of the flights. State GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer said the decision was a whitewash of Perdue campaign activities.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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RESPONSE FROM THE NCGOP

State Board of Elections Decision on Perdue Campaign Violations Further Undermines the Election Process

“In the future, anyone who has a complaint to lodge involving the Perdue for Governor campaign should just file it with her attorney, John Wallace. Wallace ran this investigation and orchestrated the outcome and the leaders at the State Board of Elections have become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Governor.” Tom Fetzer NCGOP Chairman

RALEIGH—NCGOP Chairman Tom Fetzer today responded to the State Board of Elections ruling on the investigation of the Perdue for Governor campaign by furthering his assertion that the leadership at the SBOE, in particular Board Chairman Larry Leake and Executive Director Gary Bartlett, have lost all credibility.

“In the future, anyone who has a complaint to lodge involving the Perdue for Governor campaign should just file it with her attorney, John Wallace” Fetzer said. “Wallace ran this investigation and orchestrated the outcome and the leaders at the State Board of Elections have become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Governor.” The SBOE fined the Perdue for Governor campaign $30,000, but curiously ruled that they believed the campaign had “no intent of wrongdoing”.

Fetzer first filed a complaint regarding unreported air travel by the Perdue campaign in October of 2009. His assertions have proven to be true as the Perdue for Governor campaign leaked out a steady stream of unreported flights, now totaling 42. Fetzer has also been highly critical of Leake and Bartlett, particularly after the release of a heavily edited report generated by SBOE staff which documented Wallace, Bartlett and Leake’s attempts to steer the investigation away from key players in the Perdue campaign. Leake showed his obvious frustration with the negative publicity generated by numerous news stories about the elections board, ranging from a virtual monopoly involving ballot printing to Leake’s own use of taxpayer money to charter private aircraft to take him to and from interviews. During today’s meeting, Leake lashed out at Fetzer, to which Fetzer responded “Mr. Leake, your argument is not with me; your argument is with your own report.”

Fetzer noted that the Board voted along party lines to ignore their own report in favor of the Perdue campaign’s unfounded assertions that there was no intent of wrongdoing. “The fact that the most common answer given by the Perdue camp today was ‘I don’t know’ speaks volumes. Anyone who looks at this situation objectively can see there was willful intent to subvert campaign finance law, but unfortunately, Mr. Leake and Mr. Bartlett have proven to be far from objective,” Fetzer concluded.

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