Let’s Talk About Prison Contracts …
Before all the HB-2 controversy, Governor Pat McCrory had gotten himself into a sticky situation over maintenance contracts for the state’s prison system. In 2011, the NC General Assembly conducted an investigation into whether or not it was cost effective to continue with private contracts versus public ones for the maintenance of the state’s prisons. Prison officials compared the three prisons maintained by The Keith Corporation with three virtually identical prisons maintained by state employees. After sending the report to the governor’s office for approval, prison officials submitted the report to the General Assembly in May 2014. The conclusions were not happy news to Graeme Keith Sr. and other privatization boosters: Private maintenance did not lead to significant savings, the report said.
In August 2014, under the leadership of Gov. Beth Perdue, prison officials decided not to renew the contracts; two were to expire at last year’s end and the third in April.
It would seem Gov. McCrory isn’t smart enough to let sleeping dogs lie. According to the News & Observer out of Raleigh, McCrory leaned on a few guys to get the Keith Corporation’s contracts re-instated.
“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).”
McCrory justified this to the press as “wanting further analysis of the wisdom of allowing the contracts to expire due to the lack of clarity regarding savings.”
Um… there was no lack of clarity. There was clarity. The NC General Assembly was all about some clarity after their investigation so, what could be the real reason McCrory would stick his nose into something that had already been decided by State leaders? Oh, yeah. He owed his friend, Graeme Keith Sr., a favor for the $12,000 he donated to his Gubernatorial campaign. And the best part was he had the nerve to be upset at the News & Observer for reporting this and saying they misrepresented the truth. Right… They misrepresented the facts that are in evidence. The real truth is you’re way too transparent with your motivations, right Governor?
Well, never let it be said that Patty doesn’t keep his campaign promises.
I wonder what he promised the Koch brothers….