Thursday, March 09, 2017

Are ethics violations against Sonny Perdue holding up Senate confirmation hearing for ag secretary?

Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary introducing then Indiana
 Gov. Mike Pence in August in Perry, Ga.
 (Macon Telegraph photo by Woody Marshall)
One of the reasons for the delay in a Senate confirmation hearing for former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for agriculture secretary could be prior conflicts of interest leveled against Perdue while he was governor, Eric Lipton and Steve Eder report for The New York Times. The hearing has been delayed while a background check is completed. President Trump picked Perdue for the position six weeks ago, but it is one of the few Cabinet positions yet to have a confirmation hearing scheduled.

Perdue, who took an ethics pledge when elected governor, was accused of failing to honor the pledge during his eight years as governor, reports the Times. "The criticism centers on the fact that, as Trump has, he continued to own or help run his family business ventures—four farming-related companies—while serving as governor." Perdue was governor from 2003-11.

While in office, 13 complaints were "filed against Perdue with the State Ethics Commission, which on two occasions ruled that the governor had violated state ethics laws," reports the Times. "The commission took the unusual step of fining Perdue while he was governor. There were numerous other questions, including some about the role of Perdue’s personal lawyer—also a state legislator—in pushing a bill through the legislature that included a special provision that gave Perdue $100,000 in state tax relief."

"And, when his tenure as governor was coming to a close, Perdue met with Georgia officials who oversee the state’s ports to discuss use of a terminal for a family business, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," reports the Times. "Soon after he left office, in fact, he opened a new company that specialized in exporting products through Savannah."

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