Campaign flight controversy could blow up

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The State Board of Investigations is investigating the candidates for governor.

They both broke the rules.

Governor Perdue took dozens of flights she didn't initially report or pay for.

Charlotte's former mayor took a couple, himself.

But now we've learned, those questionable travel expenses may just be the tip of the iceberg.

There's a frenzied amount of finger pointing going on, and both Republicans and Democrats say the travel improprieties we know about only scratch the surface.

It all started when Governor Bev Perdue said she forgot to pay for 31 flights she took since the year 2000.

Well, actually - it started when Former Governor Mike Easley paid a hundred grand in fines for failing to disclose campaign flights of his own, and that was just the beginning. One of his aids was indicted on counts of bribery and extortion, and now there's a federal investigation making a wide probe.

Today, Republicans say there's much more going on with Perdue too, and the only reason she disclosed her own flights is to hide it.

In a note, GOP Chair Tom Fetzer writes, "you'll hear Perdue...try to focus the questions surrounding her campaign on unreported air travel. The problem is the flights are a very small part of the story. Remember the case of Mike Easley: unreported air travel was a red flag to much more serious issues."

"We think there's the same level of influence peddling, bundling of large contributions that were seemingly a fixture in the Easley administration," Fetzer says.

The governor, of course, isn't happy with him.

"Let me be very direct," Perdue recently said. "It made me mad. I am not the former Governor. I am not the former Governor's administration."[Anchor:NAME]

And Perdue's party is digging up some dirt of their own...turns out Pat McCrory forgot to pay for two helicopter flights he took during his gubernatorial campaign.

"It's sad that the SBOE had to start an investigation before Pat McCory was finally willing to come clean," said N.C. Democratic Party Executive Director Andrew Whalen.

Says McCrory: "Listen, every candidate makes a few mistakes. I did on some of my reports."

But did McCrory make more than a few flubs?

"We here at the Democratic party sent a letter to the State Board of Elections pointing out some other irregularities that seem to appear on his amended reports," Whalen says.

In that letter, Democrats say they're suspicious of a $25,000 expenditure they say McCrory was slow to disclose, and they want to know more about a $4,000 donation that allegedly vanished from his report.

When we called McCrory today, he had not yet heard about these accusations, but he wasn't fazed by either of them, saying "the Perdue Easley machine continues to make inaccurate accusations. This is an obvious, coordinated attack to get attention off their brand of improprieties."

McCrory says he's looking into the matter, and will clear up the questions as soon as possible.