New memo surfaces, shows McCrory nudged top aids on prison contracts

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A memo written by Joe Prater, a deputy commissioner of corrections, has recently been released to the public. Written earlier this year, the memo highlights the role Gov. McCrory played in the extension of Graeme Keith's prison contracts. According to the memo, after prison officials had decided to cancel Keith's contract, McCrory reached out to Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry. The memo indicates McCrory nudged several top officials into action, doing his best to secure a lucrative state contract for his friend and major campaign contributor Graeme Keith. 

Read more at the News & Observer

Gov. Pat McCrory twice told his secretary of public safety about his concerns that private prison maintenance contracts held by his friend and political contributor would expire, according to a recently released memo from a top prison administrator.

The memo, written earlier this year by Joe Prater, a deputy commissioner of correction, recounts events leading up to the McCrory administration’s renewal of the contracts over the objection of senior prison officials.

Prater’s memo dates the phone calls as coming prior to a meeting that McCrory arranged and attended in October 2014 in Charlotte. In that meeting, Graeme Keith Sr. is said to have discussed his political contributions and said he wanted “something in return.”
The three contracts, which are the subject of an FBI inquiry, are worth about $3 million annually and are held by The Keith Corp. of Charlotte, where McCrory was mayor for 14 years. The owners, Graeme Keith Sr. and Graeme “Greg” Keith Jr., are friends of McCrory and contributed $12,000 to the governor’s political committee from 2008 through 2012.

Prater’s memo, placed in a state file, was released in response to a public records request from The News & Observer. The memo says McCrory called Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry in September 2014, after prison officials decided to cancel the contracts with a subsidiary of The Keith Corp.

Prater had drafted letters for Perry to sign that would inform the Keiths that the contracts would be allowed to expire, an action Perry has said he supported.

At an employee’s going-away reception, Perry approached Prater “and indicated that he had some concerns about signing the notification (about ending the contracts) as the governor had concerns about our allowing the contracts to expire,” says the memo, written Jan. 28, 2015.

During another conversation, “Sec. Perry told JP (Joe Prater) in the basement parking lot that the governor had called him again, concerned about our allowing the Keith contract to expire, as Keith is a friend of his (the governor’s).”

Perry declined to be interviewed. But he wrote in a recent statement that he did not recall the parking lot conversation.

The N&O also reported last month that McCrory was personally involved in a new state policy that has resulted in hundreds of tickets given to napping truck drivers who park along exit ramps on North Carolina highways.

In that case, McCrory was urged to act by Charlie Shelton, a Surry County business executive whose hotel and vineyard are near one of the exits. The Shelton family and company executives donated $40,000 to McCrory’s 2012 campaign.

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