Betty McCain, state human cultural resources secretary, charged business-related lunches at Raleigh’s posh Cardinal Club to the North Carolina Museum of History Associates, The News & Observer in Raleigh reports.
McCain, who supervises the museum booster group, says always has reimbursed the group from her personal checking account.
She praised the group, which is the target of several investigations into its financial and accounting practices, for letter her use its guest pass at the Cardinal Club in the penthouse of the First Union Capital Center in downtown Raleigh.
She also said the Department of Cultural Resources cannot afford a membership, which includes a $1,000 initiation fee and $71 to $95 a year in dues.
“We really do not have that kind of money here,” she told the newspaper.
Gov. Jim Hunt has directed McCain to lead a review of the booster group in the wake of charges of financial mismanagement.
McCain gave the newspaper a list of 17 occasions over the past two years in which she used the membership.
She said she had not done anything wrong in using the booster group’s Cardinal Club account but would not use it any more because the News & Observer had “soured” the practice.
“What [The N&O) has done is made it appear to be an abuse, which it is not,” she told the newspaper. “When we really need to entertain somebody, there’s no money and we have no place, so Eve [Williamson, executive director of the booster group] lets us use the place.”
Williamson, who herself has enjoyed unusual perks, is at the center of the controversy at the Museum Associates.