Local Politics

Easley Remains Quiet on Black's Troubles

Posted February 20, 2007

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— As the fall of one of the state's most powerful politicians continued Tuesday, Gov. Mike Easley remained silent about the issue of corruption in state government.

During his annual State of the State address Monday, Easley made no mention for former House Speaker Jim Black, who pleaded guilty last week to a federal corruption charge and pleaded guilty Tuesday to state bribery and obstruction of justice charges.

After Black's court hearing Tuesday, a spokeswoman in Easley's office issued the same statement the governor put out last week after the federal court hearing.

"It is a sad day when any public servant faces criminal charges. Unfortunately, these matters of criminal misconduct will overshadow his 25 years of public service," the statement said.

Republicans wasted no time pointing out Easley's silence, calling Tuesday for reforms to restore the public's trust in state government.

"I think he should have acknowledged the problem, and I think he should have come out for his idea of reforms that would address the problem with Speaker Black," Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger said.

Berger, R-Rockingham, and other GOP lawmakers said term limits would be one way to limit the power Black amassed and used illegal means to maintain.

"The concentration of power is what has enabled the conduct that Speaker Black is being convicted of to occur," Berger said.
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