It's finally judgement week, Part I for Michael Easley (left, prior to wrecking yet another race car. Photo courtesy Greensboro News and Record), former Governor of the Old North State. Part I, because there will certainly be more hearings in court in the months to come. This week, the North Carolina Board of Elections has taken the first shot at Easley.
Wednesday afternoon, your blogger watched the former governor, shift his eyes and squirm in his seat, in response to questions. That indicates that perhaps he wasn't telling the truth each time he stated that he "didn't remember" or that he "wasn't involved". KCC's favorite was "someone else handled that" even though he could rarely remember who.
He claimed to be "trying to help y'all out" yet he rarely had solid answers in the Wednesday afternoon round of questions. We realize it is difficult to sit for five hours of questioning and recognize the fact that Easley didn't have to take the stand.
Your blogger credits one man for opening this huge can of worms, the John Locke Foundation's Don Carrington. Carrington wrote stories the Carolina Journal for months about Easley's misdeeds and finally the Raleigh News and Observer picked it up. Other papers realized that the story was nearly too good to be true and jumped in on it.
Part of the investigation involves Easley's sweetheart deal in the Cannonsgate subdivision in the Town of Bogue, near Morehead City, at the NC coast. Carrington was the first to look into that, too, before the News and Observer furthered the investigation.
Meanwhile, during Wednesday's hearings, your blogger was amazed that someone like the former Governor, who has been in the political trenches for years, didn't know how the political system works. In fact, during questioning regarding in-kind contributions, he said he didn't know about any type of in-kind contributions, because "they could be anything."
Easley went on to say, much to your blogger's amazement, that people "putting up signs for the campaign" were in-kind donors. Those folks are actually called volunteers!
KCC is sure that Republican State Elections Board member, Bill Peaslee, must have either felt extremely sad or been forced to suppress a chuckle. Peaslee later told WRAL news that he felt Easley did the best he could have, given all the years that have passed.
A veteran volunteer and staffer campaigns , KCC understands that in-kind donations can include the donation of food at a fundraiser, the donation of cars to a campaign, and the like.
In the afternoon session his Democrat majority buddies on the State Elections Board mostly asked softball questions, which were extremely leading. Peaslee, meanwhile asked the tough questions but got nowhere.
Frankly, KCC would think that the Democrats, would have thrown the former guv to the wolves by now. They know they are in trouble for the 2010 elections. If the Republicans in this state are smart, they will hang Easley around every Democrat's neck, and force it to be an issue.
Yet, NC Board of Elections Chairman Larry Leake, an appointee to that position by the former Governor, failed to recuse himself from chairing the hearings. Your blogger thinks current Governor Perdue should do the right thing and remove Leake from his position.
Even current Governor Beverly Perdue should be held accountable to many of Easley's deeds. She was his Lt. Governor. She's supposed to be the "transparency governor" but there have been many instances that she's been caught being just he opposite. More on that in another post.
Meanwhile, in attendance, was Claudia Rodgers, a Raleigh and coastal NC Republican activist. The sleuth and sometime researcher normally prefers to keep a low profile at political and other such events. Today, however, she was seated directly behind the former Governor, right in view of cameras.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Larry Leake adjourned the meeting, which is being held at the Clarion Hotel in downtown Raleigh. He stated he only has one more witness to call, Scott Falmlen, the former executive director of the state Democratic Partyl. That means he's not calling McQueen Campbell and many others.
Even Ruffin Poole, a former special aide to Easley, won't be called to testify, and the reasons are being kept secret, reports the N&O.
Tune in tomorrow and watch the hearings live in North Carolina on Statewide Cable News Channel News 14. If that is unavailable to you, or if you live out-of-state, you may log on to the WRAL-TV Live Coverage and stream it online.
The hearings conclude on Thursday. At that time, the Board can fine Easley, recommend the case to the District Attorney, or do nothing.
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