Gov. Bev Perdue sat out the recruitment of a Louisiana company to the Research Triangle because her son was involved in efforts to get the company to move its headquarters here.
As a result, Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco made all the decisions in the recruitment of IEM, a risk management firm, including the promise of as much as $9 million in tax incentives and grants, according to Chrissy Pearson, the governor's spokeswoman.
"Because Garrett represented the company in some way," Pearson said, "the governor recused herself early on in the process. What that means is Commerce just carried the lion's share of the recruiting, which is what they do anyway. But the governor can be good motivating or icing on the cake."
The company announced Monday that it was moving to North Carolina creating 430 jobs to the Triangle over the next six years.
Critics have suggested that there is really no way for Perdue to truly recuse herself, since Crisco is a political appointee of the governor. But Pearson argues that Crisco is independent enough to have rejected offering grants or incentives to IEM if he thought it was a bad fit for North Carolina.
On the other side of the process, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lobbied to keep IEM in Baton Rouge.
Pearson said her boss should be given credit for stepping aside.
"This is a different day in North Carolina government," Pearson said. "The governor is not shy about sharing potential conflicts of interest. The governor has made it clear to all Cabinet secretaries that she expects the highest ethical standards. The governor has made it clear that there will be no special favors for family members."