Now we know, perhaps, why Democrat Governor Bev Perdue has been spending money on lawyers. Another staffer plead guilty last Friday to campaign fund violations. This makes the second staffer to plead guilty; Peter Reichard plead guilty in December 2011 to a felony resulting from obstruction of justice charges in the campaign finance investigation of Perdue’s 2008 campaign. With four people now involved, including a donor, juggling money and flights that violate campaign law, it’s hard to imagine Perdue was unaware.
It would seem Perdue and her staff can’t stay out of hot water. Last year, Perdue’s staff were accused of receiving unemployment data before the official release in order to spin the numbers in a positive light for Perdue’s office. The early receipt of such data was discovered in January 2011 but it was unknown how long the practice had been going on. Perdue maintained her staff did nothing wrong, but the evidence proved otherwise.
The AP via Rocky Mount Telegram:
RALEIGH – A former aide to Gov. Bev Perdue pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge related to secret salary payments received while working on the Democrat’s campaign.
Morganton lawyer Juleigh Sitton resigned last year as director of the governor’s western office. She had previously served as a paid fundraiser for Perdue’s 2008 campaign.
A second charge against Sitton for campaign finance violations was dismissed Friday as part of her plea agreement with Wake County prosecutors.
Sitton was indicted on felony charges after receiving $32,000 in unreported salary payments from illegal campaign donations. Her lawyer, Joe Zeszotarski, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Former Perdue fundraising chairman Peter Reichard of Greensboro in December accepted criminal responsibility for a felony charge for funneling the secret payments to Sitton through his company.
Willoughby said Sitton and a third defendant, Perdue family friend Trawick H. “Buzzy” Stubbs Jr. of New Bern, had filed legal challenges with the N.C. Court of Appeals challenging the Wake DA’s jurisdiction over the matter. Not knowing how the appeals court might rule on the issue, Willoughby said it made sense for him to make a deal settling the case against Sitton.
By pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, reduced from the felonies with which she was originally charged, allows Sitton to likely retain her law license.
Willoughby said the case with Stubbs is still likely headed to court.
Stubbs is charged with providing more than $28,000 in undisclosed flights on private planes to Perdue as she ran for governor. Stubbs was the law partner of the governor’s deceased first husband.
A fourth defendant, Robert Lee Caldwell of Morganton, was charged with a felony in February for allegedly deceiving Perdue’s campaign by hiding the source of money used to pay for a 2007 flight provided to Perdue.
Willoughby has said his investigation found no evidence the governor knew of the illegal acts carried out by her staff and supporters. Perdue, who also denied any wrongdoing, is not running for re-election.