Perdue campaign spending continued months after decision not to run again

jfrank@newsobserver.comAugust 4, 2012 

PERDUE10-NE-062612-RTW

Gov. Bev Perdue

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com

— Gov. Bev Perdue ended her re-election bid in January, but the Democrat’s campaign spent nearly a quarter-million dollars through June, including more than $80,000 in legal fees.

A campaign spokesman said the legal bills related to a criminal investigation of the Perdue campaign involving unreported flights on private jets and alleged under-the-table payments to a staffer. Two campaign aides and a major donor were indicted in November on charges of obstruction of justice. Perdue does not face any criminal charges.

Three hefty legal bills – totaling about $35,000 – from May and June are not related to any recent probe, said Marc Farinella, a consultant who speaks for the Perdue campaign. He said the lawyers – criminal defense attorney Wade Smith’s firm, John Wallace and another Wilmington firm – represented campaign staffers who were interviewed as part of the probe, with most costs incurred in 2011. The latest activity dates to February; the lawyers waited to bill the campaign “to make sure there was not additional activity,” Farinella said.

Perdue also paid another $23,000 to consultants and aides to help with campaign finance compliance and more than $25,000 to strategists – all after her Jan. 26 announcement that she would retire, according to her campaign finance report posted online last week.

Farinella explained the timing of the charges by saying that it takes time for a campaign to wind down and receive outstanding invoices. He said the campaign ceased operations at the end of February, though he remains a paid consultant, as does Wallace.

Perdue’s campaign account still boasts $1.8 million – a million more than Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the Democrat trying to replace her in the governor’s mansion. Farinella said Perdue plans to “use a significant portion of the funds to help elect Democratic candidates in 2012.”

“The Committee is currently reviewing the best ways to do that,” he said. “At present, those are the only specific plans for the funds.”

The campaign also owes Perdue and her husband, Robert Eaves, $776,500 in outstanding loans. The report reflects that Eaves forgave a $50,000 loan made to his wife’s 1998 Senate campaign, which was left off of some subsequent reports.

Perdue also forfeited about $6,000 to the state after a recent campaign finance audit found questions about a handful of contributions dating as far back as 2004.

Her campaign also paid $26,500 on Jan. 12 for a poll conducted in late December. Perdue made her decision not to run again amid tumbling poll numbers and under intense pressure from Republicans. But Farinella said the poll results had “little bearing on her decision.”

Two months after her decision not to run, Perdue held a $10,000 event at the exclusive Umstead Hotel in Cary to thank her supporters and contributors.

On the income side, Perdue sold desks and chairs that had been in storage since the 2008 election to Nexus Strategies, a Democratic campaign firm that represents Dalton, for $840.

Frank: 919-829-4698

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