Thomas Betts Jr., a Rocky Mount businessman who resigned from the state Board of Transportation in 2008 in the wake of a fundraising scandal, is apparently back in the good graces of Gov. Bev Perdue.
Betts' name was listed last week on the agenda for a meeting of "Team Perdue," the inner-circle of the governor's 2012 reelection campaign.
Betts, a long-time Perdue supporter, resigned from the DOT board in January 2008 after he sought $20,000 in contributions from country singer Randy Parton and others involved in a performing arts theater in Roanoke Rapids. Betts had previously used his position on the board to steer money for road projects to benefit the theater.
Then-Lt. Gov. Perdue distanced herself from Betts, saying she had no knowledge of the Parton fundraising and that she did not condone it. Her campaign also refused to accept eight checks totaling $9,000 from donors involved in the struggling project.
Perdue had made problems at the theatre a campaign issue in her Democratic Primary campaign against then-State Treasurer Richard Moore, who had led a panel that approved $21 million in debt used by Roanoke Rapids to build the facility.
"Mr. Betts appropriately recognized that his fundraising activities in 2008 presented a conflict or the appearance of a conflict with his service and activities on the Board of Transportation, and he therefore resigned his position," Marc Farinella, Perdue's campaign-spokesman, said in an e-mail Tuesday.
"This transpired before Bev Perdue became governor. Mr. Betts' potential conflict no longer exists since he is no longer on the Board, and so we do not believe he should be precluded from raising money for Governor Perdue or other candidates he may support."