It appears our local Pulitzer Prize-winning paper is throwing up its hands and giving up on Lame Duck Bev. Today’s op-ed focused on the current McScandal in Raleigh — the autopenned letters to legislators about funding for toll road projects.
First off — I spent time on Capitol Hill. In governmental environments, you deal with hundreds upon hundreds of documents every day. Most of them are handled by staff members — as opposed to the politician. It’s quite routine at the state and federal level to send out letters — bearing a politician’s signature — that the politician did not write and likely never saw. So, signing someone else’s name to a letter to the legislature is really not that big of a deal. (If there was a fraudulent intent behind sending the letters, that is a whole other question entirely.)
Second — the op ed refers to Pryor Gibson as a Republican. Gibson was actually a long-serving DEMOCRAT legislator from Wadesboro.
Third — the op ed suggests there is something sleazy about legislators contacting the governor’s legislative liaison. THAT is why the liaison position exists. It’s done all the time in the course of conducting constituent service.
FOURTH — The Pilot op ed seems to have the facts of the case terribly confused. For some clarification, let’s turn to veteran legislative correspondent Matt Willoughby who now reports for Civitas:
State Senate Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) began an investigation of accusations Gov. Perdue’s staff created misleading letters to support funding of the Mid-Currituck Bridge and the Garden Parkway near Gastonia. He introduced as evidence the letters bearing the signature of the Department of Transportation Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogden. The letters were used on the Senate floor by Sen. Stan White (D-Dare) in an attempt to restore funds in the budget for the Mid-Currituck Bridge in his district. His attempt failed. Another allegedly false letter to Rep. Bill Current (R-Gaston) supported funding in the current budget for the planned Garden Parkway toll road. Sen. Apodaca said the problem was Trogden had already written a letter to budget writers saying the money wasn’t needed this budget cycle for either project because of possible legal challenges.
Sen. Apodaca said he wanted to hear from an official from DOT at a Rules Committee meeting Wednesday morning and wanted someone from the Governor’s office to address the investigation Thursday.
After the meeting he said he could refer the matter to the Wake County District Attorney if that’s where the evidence leads them.