Local Politics

Elections board to look into Easley's campaign finances

Posted September 30, 2009

— The State Board of Elections will conduct a public hearing into the campaign finances of former Gov. Mike Easley, officials said Wednesday.

The move comes amid a federal investigation into Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while in office.

Gov. Mike Easley Easley to face elections inquiry

The elections board closed its file on Easley to the public on May 15, indicating that officials had formally begun a criminal investigation of his campaign finances. Gary Bartlett, executive director of the elections board, said investigators had collected enough evidence to warrant a full hearing into the former governor's campaign fundraising and spending.

The public hearing is set for Oct. 26, and Bartlett said it could last a week.

"Not only does the public have the right to know who's contributing, but (also) how you spend your money," he said.

Easley will be the first governor called before an elections board hearing in North Carolina. Others who have faced similar inquiries include former House Speaker Jim Black and former Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps.

The board could take no action or it could issue a reprimand or fine in the case. The findings also could be turned over to the Wake County District Attorney's Office if board members think criminal charges might be warranted.

"It's quite serious, and Gov. Easley is not going to sleep well tonight," said Joe Sinsheimer, a Democratic political consultant who helped spark the elections board inquiry into Black's campaign finances.

"If people are allowed to give the chief executive officer of the state goodies, whether it's free flights or free meals or free cars, then the entire process gets corrupted," Sinsheimer said.

Easley couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment.

John Wallace, an attorney for the Mike Easley Committee, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying that the committee has provided more than 17 years of campaign finance records to the elections board in recent months and has answered all of the questions investigators have asked.

"The committee has cooperated fully with the board and will continue to cooperate with the board in connection with the (pending) hearing," Wallace said.

The state Highway Patrol, which provides a security detail for the governor, turned over Easley's travel records to both the elections board and a federal grand jury in May. The News & Observer newspaper has reported that Easley took at least two dozen flights on private aircraft while in office that weren't disclosed on campaign finance reports.

North Carolina's ethics laws require the disclosure of gifts over $200. State elections laws also prevent corporations from donating to campaigns and limit individuals to $4,000 in contributions to a candidate in a single election.

The value of many of the flights Easley took was more than $4,000 or was close enough to top the legal limit when combined with other contributions, according to information from the state Democratic Party.

The state party paid the elections board $24,086 in July to resolve questions about in-kind contributions to the party in 2004, including six flights for Easley aboard private planes. It's illegal to contribute to a political party with the intent to benefit a particular candidate.

The Democratic Party issued a statement Wednesday saying it welcomes an open hearing to determine the facts. Gov. Beverly Perdue also issued a statement, saying a public hearing is important to maintain credibility in state government.

“As I’ve said from Day One of this administration, I’m committed to transparency and accountability in our government. I believe it is critical for the people of North Carolina that we have a thorough and public review of these issues,” Perdue said.

The federal grand jury also has inquired about vehicles car dealers provided to Easley and his family while he was in office, contacting Fayetteville car dealer Bobby Bleecker, among others. One of Bleecker's dealerships provided a GMC Yukon for Michael Easley, the former governor's son.

Mike Easley paid Bleecker Olds/Buick/GMC in Red Springs $6,884 for the SUV on April 2, shortly after reports about the vehicle appeared in the media.

About $6,710 in campaign money was used to pay for the Yukon. said in April that the vehicle was used during the 2004 primary and general election campaigns.

Easley's campaign also paid the elections board $2,911 to cover interest for the belated reporting of the use of the SUV, and Wallace amended some quarterly campaign reports from 2003 to 2005 to reflect the use of the vehicle as an in-kind contribution.

The grand jury also is looking at two land deals involving the former governor, a high-paying job that his wife, Mary Easley, landed at North Carolina State University, and decisions by the state Division of Motor Vehicles that might have benefited a political contributor.


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  • davidbh61255 Oct 1, 2009


  • Professor Oct 1, 2009

    Did not represent NC well. What a shame on both of them!

  • Professor Oct 1, 2009

    The Easley should hide, they are guilty as sin. They both should be charged for all their wrong doings.

  • Jay4 Oct 1, 2009

    At least there are investigations going on into Easley's crimes. That at least is hopeful. And Jim Black WAS imprisoned.

    Now - people who care need to ask - what is it about NC Democratic Party (and the National Democratic Party) that allows so much corruption to sink into it and become the RULE rather than the exception?

    And now there are the revelations about ACORN which is a full blown criminal organization with many links to other organizations which has received HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS in taxpayer dollars - and which was a primary factor in the fraudulent election of DEMOCRATS throughout the nation and in NC. (voter fraud is the number one criminal activity of Acorn)

    Of course in Obama who was an attorney with Acorn but who now claims he knows nothing about them - we have the Criminal in Chief.

    HE needs to be investigated now - and NC needs to BAN ACORN from all activities in this state!

    Again...when pigs fly.

  • nanasix Oct 1, 2009

    I agree that many of our Politicians are crooked and should be punished. Being from Carteret County, I wish they'd start here in the DA's office, the Judges and Lawyers that practice in the 3 county jurisdiction, which includes Carteret, Craven & Pamlico Counties. The corruptness includes several Clerk's of Court, but nothings being done here. I believe there is enough evidence to try and convict Easly and his wife, et al,let's get it rolling, and spend some time and money getting other criminals out of office. Scott Thomas was a NC Senator, and quit to take the DA's job when David McFayden decided to retire when NCSBI completed the largest investigation in NC history into corruptness. The info was given to the NC Judicial Commission, and hidden, with nothing ever being done, and McFayden still dictating what gets done. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

  • ncsufamily24 Oct 1, 2009

    Jim Black:

    Your arrest, conviction and imprisonment should have served as a warning to other North Carolina politicians, but it is rather
    apparent that the "business as usual" political concept is still alive and well within North Carolina's Democrat-controlled
    state government.

    At some point, the voters must stand up and move the trash to the curb. And it makes no difference if it's Democrat or Republican trash. The 2010 election cycle would be an ideal time
    for voters to start the cleaning process.

  • 6079 SMITH W Sep 30, 2009


  • james27613 Sep 30, 2009

    The former GOV and First Lady are making
    NC look like Enron or Worldcom.

  • lkanzig Sep 30, 2009

    this has dragged on enough! their is a mountain of evidence against this crook and his family on other corruption investigations. nc has some of the most morally corupt and crooked politicians than any other state i have seen! they make this state look bad and its citizens as well! its nice to see that bev will make this tradition continue!

  • arfamr1005 Sep 30, 2009

    i have 2 requests!!

    1) can we quit spending money investigating this guy and just throw him in jail yet? this is costing the state a ton of money (and why didnt they look into it sooner?)

    2) can NC PLEASE vote in anyone other than a democrat?!?!?! republicans wouldnt be too much better, how about a independent or something?