Originally created 10/11/05

Perdue's wife defends group



ATLANTA - Mary Perdue gave her first public defense Monday of a group that raises money to restore antiques in the Governor's Mansion, even as the head of the Democratic Party called for an investigation.

Friends of the Mansion, a nonprofit group created by Ms. Perdue to help preserve the antique pieces around the mansion, has come under fire for accepting gifts from those with business before the state, and it has faced questions about its filings with the secretary of state's office.

Ms. Perdue said neither the foundation nor its donors did anything improper, and the money was needed to maintain one of the top collections of Federalist-era pieces in the nation.

She said the foundation was a sensible way of raising money.

"I think it's a good thing because, as you well know, any sitting governor who might go to the Legislature and say, 'We need a new rug; we need a new drapery; we have furniture that needs to be repaired,' would be criticized if they tried to put something like that into the budget annually."

Her comments came in response to a news conference held outside the mansion by state Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Kahn, who called for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate the fund.

"Georgians deserve to know if Gov. Perdue has been guilty of unethical or even illegal conduct," Mr. Kahn said.

The chairman noted the GBI had looked into Corrections Commissioner James Donald's efforts to raise money from state contractors for a staff conference.

According to news reports, the inquiry found nothing criminal in Mr. Donald's actions.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (404) 681-1701 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com.