Perdue's business record under scrutiny again

AP News
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Posted: Oct 03, 2014 6:44 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — The business background of Republican Senate candidate David Perdue has again come under scrutiny in Georgia's closely watched Senate race after a report surfaced detailing a 2005 court deposition in which the former CEO talks about his experiences with outsourcing.

Politico reported Friday that Perdue said he was hired as CEO of the North Carolina textile company, Pillowtex Corp., in part to cut costs by outsourcing manufacturing operations overseas. According to the report, Perdue — when asked during the deposition about his experience with outsourcing — responded: "Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that."

Perdue spokeswoman Megan Whittemore said the candidate was "talking about outsourcing operations and products, and not jobs."

"Throughout his career, David took on tough business challenges in an effort to save American companies and jobs," she said in a statement. "He wants to use that experience in the Senate to revitalize domestic manufacturing by removing the barriers to competitiveness."

The race between Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn has gained national attention as Republicans seek control of the Senate and can't afford to lose the open seat in Georgia. Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, is considered among the best Democratic recruits in the country this year.

Perdue's experience at Pillowtex was a key issue during the Republican primary, when he faced attacks over his handling of the company that closed shortly after he left. Some 7,650 people lost their jobs around the country.

Perdue has said he doesn't regret taking the job and that he was trying to turn around a struggling company that had just emerged from bankruptcy. Perdue said he never had the chance to implement his plans because he discovered an unfunded pension liability soon after arriving, which prompted the company's owners to look for a buyer. He would depart a few months later to become CEO of Dollar General.

An early attack ad by the Nunn campaign featured former Pillowtex workers and sought to portray Perdue as someone more interested in the bottom line than his employees. The Nunn campaign pointed to the court deposition as further proof.

"Under oath, David Perdue detailed how he has spent his career becoming in an expert in outsourcing jobs to Asia," Nunn spokesman Nathan Click said in a statement. "Now, as a political candidate, he is trying to convince Georgia voters he will fight for them when the truth is he has spent his career doing the opposite."

Also on the Senate ballot is Libertarian Amanda Swafford, a former city councilwoman.

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