N.C. Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer handed out copies of a letter Wednesday showing that the State Board of Elections is investigating the campaign finances of Gov. Bev Perdue.
Gary Bartlett, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said that the investigation is part of a larger look at how all candidates for governor in 2004 and 2008 handled plane trips. That investigation arose when testimony in a hearing about former Gov. Mike Easley's finances suggested that other candidates had undisclosed flights.
So far, the various campaigns are cooperating and the board has left the files open to the public. Closing the files would be a step toward a more formal investigation or hearing, such as the one the board held about Easley.
"The information has not reached the level that causes us concern that it needs to be closed," Bartlett said.
N.C. Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer has previously filed two complaints over undisclosed campaign flights for Perdue. He sent a third letter with new allegations Wednesday. The board was already aware of the problems with flights because Perdue's campaign approached the board to report undisclosed flights in July, Bartlett said.
Perdue's campaign has since disclosed a total of 31 flights and said the omissions were mistakes.
Fetzer received a letter today from Kim Strach, a deputy director at the elections board who is responsible for investigations. In her letter, which Fetzer released to the news media Wednesday, Strach wrote that the board is investigating Perdue.
"We have initiated an investigation into the allegations contained in your complaints and will advise you of our findings at the conclusion of our investigation," Strach wrote.
At a news conference Wednesday, Fetzer said he believes that Perdue, a Democrat, may have engaged in the same campaign finance practices as former Gov. Mike Easley, whose campaign was fined $100,000 over unreported flights.
Contributors testified at a hearing over Easley's finances that they gave large checks to the N.C. Democratic Party with the expectation that the money would be forwarded to Easley, an illegal scheme to subvert campaign finance limits.
Fetzer released a list of 12 people who were subpoenaed in the board's hearing on Easley. Each of the 12 people have given to Easley, Perdue and the state Democratic Party.
"The fact that the activities of the Perdue Campaign mirror the violations of the Easley campaign, and in some cases involve the same corporate aircraft, indicates that an investigation of the Perdue Campaign as thorough as that of the Easley Campaign, is warranted and justified," Fetzer wrote in his letter to the board.
Bartlett and Strach said the board will look into the new letter from Fetzer.
Update: Post and headline have been re-written to reflect Bartlett's explanation of how and why the board initiated investigations.