Prison Contracts Discussed At Legislative Committee

Nov 19, 2015

A 7-hour committee meeting carried on Wednesday at the Capitol. Refugees, open meetings and prison maintenance contracts were among the topics.
Credit Jeff Tiberii

Two members of the Governor's Cabinet say the renewal of prison maintenance contracts to a campaign donor did not violate any laws.

State Budget Director Lee Roberts and Department of Public Safety Director Frank Perry answered questions from lawmakers during a grueling seven hour meeting of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations at the Capitol on Wednesday.

The group spent the day being debriefed on measures, including the issue of Syrian refugees in North Carolina, the nature of open meetings at UNC Board of Governor meetings and the maintenance contracts. 

The News and Observer first shed light on the renewal of the contracts to Graham Keith, a prominent Charlotte businessman, friend, and donor of Governor McCrory's campaign.

"At all times we believe strongly that this matter was handled in a proper and ethical way and I'm happy to answer as many questions about that as would be helpful to members of the commission," Roberts stated to the committee.

The FBI is looking into the contracts. Meanwhile, Perry told the committee that he heard Keith say on four different occasions that he was expecting something in return for his campaign contributions.

"As for being a crime, it was inappropriate. It was uncomfortable to hear it, but there has been no quid pro quo, therefore no crime," Perry stated.

Lawmakers say these meetings improve transparency and improve the functionality of government. The group doesn't have any conventional power, though they issue recommendations.