Carolina Journal News Reports
RALEIGH — Greensboro businessman and Democratic Party fundraiser Peter Reichard is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to charges related to his alleged role in hiding money from maxed-out donors supporting Gov. Bev Perdue's 2008 campaign.
Reichard faces a felony charge for aiding in the filing of false campaign reports and obstruction of justice for using money from donors to pay a Perdue staffer. Reichard served as the finance director for the Perdue campaign.
Carolina Journal obtained an email written by Reichard Nov. 28 — the day he and two other Perdue associates were indicted — to friends and political associates. The email suggests that Reichard will argue publicly that he is being prosecuted for failing to fill out campaign reports accurately rather than helping to orchestrate a plan to conceal illegal campaign contributions from elections officials.
Reichard is charged with accepting $32,000 from maxed-out campaign donor Charles M. "Mike" Fulenwider, a Morganton fast-food franchisee. Reichard used Fulenwider’s money to pay a portion of the salary of Juleigh Sitton, an attorney and Perdue campaign worker. Perdue later hired Sitton to run the governor's western North Carolina office. Reichard and Sitton were indicted along with attorney Buzzy Stubbs, the law partner of Perdue’s late former husband.
The following excerpt from the email suggests how Reichard may explain the charge publicly:
I do want you to know that there is no allegation of any personal gain, whatsoever. The charge relates only to campaign reporting violations.
See a copy of the email here (PDF download).
The story Reichard and his legal team may use, then, is that the businessman made relatively innocent paperwork errors; the indictment states instead that he was diverting to Sitton $24,000 more than the legal limit for campaign contributions, and hiding the source of the funding from elections enforcement officials.
A fourth Perdue supporter, former Western Piedmont Community College board chairman Robert Caldwell, was indicted in February. Caldwell’s indictment states that he “soliticited and accepted a check for a campaign contribution” for Perdue from James Fleming, a Morganton barber. Caldwell reimbursed Fleming for the check even though the money came from an unidentified third party — a violation of campaign law. Fulenwider, a friend of Caldwell, originally was invoiced for the flight.
The flight started in Hickory, landed in Chapel Hill to pick up Perdue, and then took the governor and her party to a fundraiser in Manteo for then-Senate leader Marc Basnight before returning to Chapel Hill and then Hickory.
Using documents from an investigation by the State Board of Elections and interviews with some of the principals, CJ sketched out the details of this flying scheme in September 2010.
Read Carolina Journal’s complete series of articles on the Perdue campaign finance investigation by clicking here.
Editor's note: This article was revised after initial publication.