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State Republicans want to know why Gov. Perdue was at a horse race while storms devastated state

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THE FOLLOWING IS A NEWS RELEASE FROM THE NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY:

NCGOP Submits “Open Records Request” to Governor Beverly Perdue and the Office of the Governor

RALEIGH, NC - Given the inconsistencies and many unanswered questions from Governor Perdue and her staff regarding the events of Saturday, April 16, 2011, the North Carolina Republican Party has officially requested all documents concerning, referencing, or pertaining to travel by Governor Perdue from the Office of the Governor.

“While we continue to pray for our neighbors who were affected by the devastating tornadoes of April 16th, the people of North Carolina deserve to know why Governor Perdue went to a horse race rather than come back to the state and prepare the disaster response knowing that ‘North Carolina could be in for a beating.’ We know Governor Perdue arrived at the Raleigh Airport at 9:13 PM on Saturday evening but we know little else of the events of Saturday, April 16th. Governor Perdue and her staff have not been open and honest when pressed on the details of April 16, 2011 and their statements since then, including the Governor’s today, has only clouded the details of the events of that day. This open records request will hopefully start to find answers about the events of April 16, 2011; where Governor Perdue was during the tornadoes, who from her staff was with her, who she was in contact with during the tornadoes, why Governor Perdue and her State Emergency Management Director did not speak until after 8:00 PM and why Governor Perdue chose to stay at a horse race while tornadoes ravaged our state.” – Russell Peck, Executive Director, North Carolina Republican Party

The request was made by the North Carolina Republican Party through the Office of the Governor’s Counsel. This request also includes all documents concerning, referencing, or pertaining to travel by Governor Perdue from the Office of the Governor from January 2009 to present and all documents concerning, referencing, or pertaining to food and entertainment expenses at the Governor’s Mansion from January 2009 until the present.

Inconsistencies from Governor Perdue’s Staff on her Whereabouts

On Saturday, April 16 at 9:00 PM, Chrissy Pearson, Communications Director for Governor Perdue, states that Perdue had been out of the state attending to a "family obligation” and “refused to say exactly where the governor was…”

On Sunday, April 17, Perdue Spokesman Mark Johnson states to the News and Observer that Governor Perdue was “attending a horse race in Kentucky.”

In an email to WWAY on the morning of Monday, April 18, Ms. Pearson states that ““(w)e all knew exactly where she was. …She wasn't actually at the race…Don't believe everything you read in the N&O.”

Later in the afternoon of Monday, April 18, Spokesman Mark Johnson with Governor Perdue reportedly “in the background interjecting what to say to the reporter,” confirms that Governor Perdue "…went to the race."

Finally, Ms. Pearson clarifies to the News and Observer Monday evening “that the governor attended some of the earlier races at Keeneland race track on Saturday afternoon, but that Perdue left for the airport in Lexington well before the big ninth race, which started at 5:45 p.m.” Note, Keeneland Race Track is a 5 minute drive from Lexington’s Airport (Google Maps). To catch her flight, giving the Governor Perdue benefit of the doubt that she would have to check-in one hour before boarding, Governor Perdue could have stayed for seven of the nine races.

Inconsistencies from Governor Perdue’s Staff on When Governor Perdue decided to return

Spokesman Mark Johnson: “When she learned of the extent of damage from the tornadoes, she cut the trip short and returned to Raleigh Saturday evening…”
(News and Observer, “Spokesman: Perdue Rushed Home From Kentucky Following Storm,” 04/18/2011).

Communications Director Chrissy Pearson: “…the governor had made the decision by Saturday morning, before the storms tore through the Triangle, to return to North Carolina early”
(News and Observer, “Perdue’s Evolving Storm Whereabouts.” 04/18/2011).

In her conversation with the News and Observer, Pearson said the Governor decided to come back early because “… from the emergency management standpoint…North Carolina could be in for a beating.” (WWAY: “Perdue’s spokespeople still don’t agree on where Governor was during storm,” 04/18/2011).

Timeline of Events

SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 2011

MORNING Governor Perdue decides to “return to North Carolina early” from Kentucky according to Communications Director Chrissy Pearson.
(News and Observer, “Perdue’s Evolving Storm Whereabouts.” 04/18/2011).

12:52 PM Air Wisconsin Airlines Flight #3949 Scheduled Departure from Lexington, KY (LEX)
Flight #3949 is last direct flight from LEX to CLT on Saturday, April 16, 2011 before 5:50 PM

1:17 PM “Getaway Guy” Wins Race #1 at Keeneland
BloodHorse.com: http://www.blood-horse.com/horse-racing/race/USA/KEE/2011/4/16/1/race-1

2:01 PM Air Wisconsin Airlines Flight #3949 Scheduled Arrival in Charlotte, NC (CLT)

2:30 PM Time at which Governor Perdue claims she was on her way back to North Carolina
(Remarks at 04/20/2011 Press Conference)

2:53PM Tornado touches down in northeastern Moore County
News and Observer: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/04/18/1137952/weather-service-releases-...

3:22 PM “Mega Dream” Wins Race #5 at Keeneland
BloodHorse.com: http://www.blood-horse.com/horse-racing/race/USA/KEE/2011/4/16/5/race-5

3:50 PM Tornado at EF-1 strength with winds greater than 100 MPH tracks across Tryon Road
News and Observer: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/04/18/1137952/weather-service-releases-...

3:55 PM “Shakertown Hill” Wins Race #6 at Keeneland
BloodHorse.com: http://www.blood-horse.com/horse-racing/race/USA/KEE/2011/4/16/6/shakert...

4:17 PM “Tornado warning RALEIGH, take cover now!”
CNN Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras’ Twitter -- @JacquiJeras: http://twitter.com/JacquiJeras/status/59334640070168576

4:30 PM “Aikenite” Wins Race #7 at Keeneland
BloodHorse.com: http://www.blood-horse.com/horse-racing/race/USA/KEE/2011/4/16/7/commonw...

4:54PM Tornado Confirmed in Johnston County
News and Observer: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/04/18/1137952/weather-service-releases-...

5:08 PM “Never Retreat” Wins Race #8 at Keeneland
BloodHorse.com: http://www.blood-horse.com/horse-racing/race/USA/KEE/2011/4/16/8/jenny-w...

5:12 PM Tornado Confirmed in Wilson County
News and Observer: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/04/18/1137952/weather-service-releases-...

5:19 PM Length of Tornado Track Estimated at 5 miles
News and Observer: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/04/18/1137952/weather-service-releases-...

5:47 PM “Tornado Spotted In Greene County: A tornado has been spotted in Greene County”
@WITN: http://twitter.com/WITN/status/59387527735410688

5:50 PM Scheduled Departure for Air Wisconsin Airlines Flight #3676 from Lexington, KY (LEX)
Flight Aware: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AWI3676/history/20110416/2150Z/KLEX/K...

5:53 PM “Brilliant Speed wins photo over Twinspired in Blue Grass.”
@DRFDerby: http://twitter.com/DRFDerby/status/59373990422134785

6:18 PM “Tornado Damage in Pitt County: There are reports of tornado damage in Farmville in Pitt County”
@WITN: http://twitter.com/WITN/status/59395200606408704

6:31 PM “A Tornado Warning has been issued for Wayne County”
@WRAL: http://twitter.com/wralweather/status/59368261460037632

6:38 PM Air Wisconsin Airlines Flight #3676 Departs Lexington, KY (LEX)
Flight Aware: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AWI3676/history/20110416/2150Z/KLEX/K...

6:42 PM “Pender Co. Sheriff's Office: Tornado touchdown in Rocky Point”
@WWAY: http://twitter.com/WWAY/status/59401349867122688

7:19 PM “Tornadoes Hit Bertie County: There are reports of tornadoes hitting between Askewville and Colerain in Bertie County”
@WITN: http://twitter.com/WITN/status/59410537527775234

7:22 PM Air Wisconsin Airlines Flight #3676 Arrives Charlotte, NC (CLT)
Flight Aware: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AWI3676/history/20110416/2150Z/KLEX/K...

8:00 PM State Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell, indicates “he had not yet spoken directly with her.”
(News and Observer, “Spokesman: Perdue Rushed Home From Kentucky Following Storm,” 04/18/2011).

News and Observer Employee sits one row behind Governor Perdue on “US Airways commercial flight from Charlotte that departed at about 8:45 p.m. and landed at RDU about 9:20 p.m.”
(News and Observer, “Spokesman: Perdue Rushed Home From Kentucky Following Storm,” 04/18/2011).

8:44 PM U.S. Airways Flight # 1602 departs Charlotte, NC (CLT)
Flight Aware: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AWE1602/history/20110416/2359Z/KCLT/K...

9:06 PM Perdue communications director Chrissy Pearson said that Perdue had been out of the state attending to a "family
obligation” and “refused to say exactly where the governor was…”
(News and Observer, “Spokesman: Perdue Rushed Home From Kentucky Following Storm,” 04/18/2011).

9:13 PM U.S. Airways Flight #1602 arrives Raleigh, NC (RDU)
Flight Aware: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AWE1602/history/20110416/2359Z/KCLT/K...

10:16 PM “Perdue’s staff issued a media release…saying she would hold a briefing in Raleigh at 11 p.m.”
News and Observer: http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/where_was_perdue

11:00 PM Governor Perdue makes first public announcement, declares state of Emergency
News and Observer : http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/where_was_perdue

SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2011

: Perdue Spokesman Mark Johnson: She was “attending a horse race in Kentucky”
“Gov. Bev Perdue was attending a horse race in Kentucky on Saturday, visiting with old friends and that state's Democratic governor as a line of deadly storms swept across North Carolina. When she learned of the extent of damage from the tornadoes, she cut the trip short and returned to Raleigh Saturday evening, according to Perdue spokesman Mark Johnson.”
(News and Observer, “Spokesman: Perdue Rushed Home From Kentucky Following Storm,” 04/18/2011).

MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2011

MORNING Perdue Communications Director Chrissy Pearson: “She wasn’t actually at the race…”
“We all knew exactly where she was. …She wasn't actually at the race…Don't believe everything you read in the N&O”
(WWAY: “Perdue’s spokespeople still don’t agree on where Governor was during storm,” 04/18/2011).

1:29 PM Did Governor Perdue Have To Set Her Staff Straight?
“At several points in the conversation, which was interpreted as Johnson's cell phone lost service, Perdue could be heard in the background interjecting what to say to the reporter…Asked if Perdue had attended the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, a thoroughbred horse race held Saturday afternoon, Johnson responded that he did not know and that he would ask the governor. Johnson replied by text message a few moments later, at 1:29 p.m.: "Yes, went to the race."
(News and Observer, “Perdue’s Evolving Storm Whereabouts.” 04/18/2011).

EVENING Pearson Changes Her Tune
“Pearson clarified Monday that the governor attended some of the earlier races at Keeneland race track on Saturday afternoon, but that Perdue left for the airport in Lexington well before the big ninth race, which started at 5:45 p.m.”

Even though Pearson said the Governor decided to come back early because “… from the emergency management standpoint…North Carolina could be in for a beating…,” Governor Perdue did not talk to State Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell until after 8:00 PM.
(News and Observer, “Spokesman: Perdue Rushed Home From Kentucky Following Storm,” 04/18/2011).

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