Documents show McCrory pushed for meeting with Charlotte company

Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. Pat McCrory

The office of Gov. Pat McCrory and the Department of Public Safety have released documents to WNCN that go into more detail about certain prison maintenance contracts, contracts where some are questioning if proper procedures were followed.

According to The News & Observer, the case is catching the attention of FBI agents.

McCrory’s office released a transcript of an interview with The N&O where McCrory said he has not spoken with the FBI about a meeting that took place with a Charlotte businessman. But he did not answer whether anyone on his staff has spoken to the FBI, only saying they would be open to doing so.

In public and in transcripts, McCrory said he and his administration did things the right way and have nothing to hide. McCrory defended the decision after a Council of State meeting Tuesday.

At issue is the extension of prison maintenance contracts with The Keith Corporation of Charlotte.

Documents obtained by WNCN show Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry and State Budget Director Lee Roberts disagreed about whether the state should renew the contracts late last year.

They were at odds about whether it would save the state money. Emails obtained by WNCN show that McCrory pushed to have a meeting between state officials and top officials with The Keith Corporation. In one email, for example, a state official wrote Sept. 30, 2014, “Secretary Perry talked with the governor today and our governor wants this meeting to happen asap.”

Documents obtained by WNCN show there was a meeting on Oct. 28, 2014, with the governor, Perry and Graeme Keith, chairman of The Keith Corporation, and others. The notes said the meeting was held at the governor’s office in downtown Charlotte at 4 p.m.

In a memo from that day, “The meeting began with Gov. McCrory making a few remarks and turning the meeting over to Graeme Keith.

“Mr. Keith began his remarks by stating that he had been working on private prison maintenance for 10 years and during that time had given a lot of money to candidates running for public office and it was now time for him to get something in return.”

McCrory denied hearing Keith say that, according to a transcript of his interview with The N&O.

McCory said, “My secretary informed me that was said probably while I was in a side conversation and I don’t know if it was said to the whole table or not, but I did not hear it.”

The governor says if he did hear that comment, he would have walked out. He said he called the meeting to resolve a dispute between a contractor and DPS.

Perry, the DPS secretary, released a statement saying the administration acted properly.

The Keith Corporation said the concerns by DPS are part of a campaign to eliminate privatization.

McCrory said he relied on Roberts, his budget director, to make a recommendation on renewal of The Keith Corporation contracts.

Several members of the General Assembly also say the contract should have gone to the legislative Governmental Operations Committee.

WNCN spoke with two members of that committee this week, a Democrat and a Republican.

“It’s a routine thing that we do,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat from Durham County.  “This would have been one of the contracts that we would have considered and certainly if there had been vehement opposition from the agency, I have serious reservations as to whether it would have received approval.”

Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Republican from Wake Coutny, said, “It certainly wouldn’t have been very difficult for State Budget to simply make a request as to whether or not a consultation would be required in this matter.”

Some legislative staff members say they don’t believe the administration needed to go to the Governmental Operations Committee for approval because it was for the renewal of existing contracts.

The McCrory administration said Tuesday that legislative staff members had already determined they didn’t need to do that.

The contracts with The Keith Corporation are set to expire at the end of this year.

The Keith Corporation released a statement saying DPS’ concerns are part of a campaign to eliminate privatization.

“The campaign to eliminate privatization is driven by entrenched interests and not facts,” said Graeme Keith Sr., chairman of TKS Management Services.

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