A newly sworn-in North Carolina Board of Transportation member raised more than $100,000 for Gov. Pat McCrory's 2012 campaign, records show.
Real estate developer Mike Smith of Raleigh disclosed to the State Ethics Commission in January that he raised $106,000 for McCrory's 2012 gubernatorial bid, according to documents. McCrory, who appoints all members of the board, emphasized reducing the appearance of pay-to-play politics in his unsuccessful 2008 campaign for the governor's mansion.
"We should not give the appearance that someone gets an appointment because they've raised thousands upon thousands of dollars for a particular candidate. And there's no doubt that that's been the norm in state government for decades," McCrory said at a September 2008 ethics forum, according to The News & Observer of Raleigh, which first reported Smith's fundraising efforts Friday.
The governor's office said McCrory stands by his appointments to the board and expects them to meet the highest ethical standards.
"The spirit of the governor's comments five years ago were to condemn unethical behavior on the state Board of Transportation, not to impede people's rights to participate in the democratic process," said spokeswoman Kim Genardo in a written statement.
McCrory included reforms to the board in his 2008 platform that would have required specific qualifications in relevant areas of expertise for appointees, the removal of appointees with a direct financial stake in board decisions and a ban against political contributions for sitting members.
Former Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue followed through on her own 2008 pledges by eliminating political considerations of board members and instituting the use of hard data from Department of Transportation staff in project selection. The legislature later incorporated her executive orders into law.
Smith is the president of Kane Realty Corp., a Raleigh-based developer. Mike Lee, a Wilmington attorney who was also among McCrory's 10 board appointees sworn in Thursday, raised $500 for his campaign.
Every member except for Smith gave directly to McCrory's campaign, according to campaign finance records on the State Board of Elections website.
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