Local Politics

N&O: Easley's golf club received water during drought

Posted October 18, 2009
Updated October 20, 2009

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— While North Carolina was amidst a severe drought, a private Chatham County golf club, of which then-Gov. Mike Easley was a member, was receiving millions of gallons of water for its greens, according to the News and Observer.

In 2002, North Carolina was in the midst of a four-year drought, and Easley was urging citizens and businesses to conserve water.

The N&O reported Sunday that during that drought, Old Chatham Golf Club, 1480 O’Kelly Chapel Road, removed nearly 6 million gallons from a nearby creek to irrigate its grass. The creek feeds into Jordan Lake, which provides water for Cary and Apex.

“What people need to realize is that the club stood to lose probably over a million dollars if that grass was allowed to die,” said Joe Sinsheimer, a Democratic political consultant.

Sinsheimer, who has worked on political corruption cases in the past, said protecting the club members' stake in the grass during a drought doesn't look good in the eyes of the public.

"To think that the governor was taking care of his golf club buddies at the same time that he is telling the rest of the state to sacrifice, just makes it even more hypocritical,” Sinsheimer said.

The N&O report states that the Governor's Office was involved in the decision to allow the club to pump the water. The club also granted Easley a free membership, worth an estimated $50,000, which he failed to disclose, according to the N&O report.

Easley's campaign finances, including numerous flights aboard private planes, are the subject of a federal criminal investigation and a hearing later this month before the State Board of Elections.

That hearing is set for Oct. 26 and could last a week. Easley will be the first governor called before an elections board hearing in North Carolina. (WRAL will provide live coverage of the entire process, along with expert analysis, on WRAL.com, on WRAL Mobile, over-the-air at 50.3 and on Time Warner Cable Ch. 252.)

The board could take no action or could issue a reprimand or fine in the case. The findings also could be turned over to the Wake County District Attorney's Office.

As far as the federal investigation, the grand jury has also subpoenaed other records relating to Easley's travel and vehicles provided to the governor and his family while he was in office.

It is also looking at two land deals, his wife's high-paying job 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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  • rtpduder Oct 20, 2009

    If Easley helps out a business that's one thing, but accepting a free membership worth an estimated $50,000 in return is unethical and dishonest to the tax payers. I'm not expert in law, but this type of activity should be illegal. Easley disgusts me.

  • COPs eye Oct 20, 2009

    I would like to see the headlines read "FORMER GOV'S GOLF CLUB GREENS BURNED BY ANGRY MOB OF TAXPAYERS" or "NC VOTERS LASH OUT AGAINST POLITICAL CORRUPTION BY BURNING GOLF GREENS" or "WHERE IS THE WATER NOW THE COURSE IS A FIRE".....LOL
    NOT THAT I AM CONDONING PROPERTYDAMAGE, BUT IT IS ABOUT TIME WE AS A PEOPLE TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY!!!!!!!!FROM CORRUPT GOVERNMENT

  • SheriffTruman Oct 20, 2009

    Posted by Chance:

    "... SO WHAT DID ALL THE OTHER GOLF CLUBS IN THE AREA DO? If they were not granted special water priviledges than Easley's club should not have been granted special water priviledges ... plain and simple!!"

    More than likely they had planned ahead and had enough water storage and wells on their property to water enough. Evidently Old Chatham had not at that point, so they had to get water from somewhere. Since then, they have added another 10 million gallon storage pond so they should not have so many issues.

    Kind of like how most of the municiplaites around here have not planned ahead to get enough water capacity either. Unfortunately, a 10 million gallon pond is a drop in the veritable bucket for a city the size of Raleigh.

  • nufsaid Oct 20, 2009

    "“What people need to realize is that the club stood to lose probably over a million dollars if that grass was allowed to die,” said Joe Sinsheimer, a Democratic political consultant."

    How much did the inability to water lawns cost homeowners? It would seem that Mr. Sinsheiner is a poor spin doctor.

  • nufsaid Oct 20, 2009

    "I'm struggling to decide whether I want Easley convicted of a Federal crime or a State crime. If it's a Federal crime, the State can go after his assets to pay back the monies he stole. If it's a State crime, he'll wind up at Centeral Prison where numerous of the inmates will do to him what he did to the State for 8 years.
    Frizz"

    Hoping for the Feds to take over. No cronies to help him out. Even if he gets time for a state charge he won't end up in Central Prison. And if he gets time in the federal system he won't get in with the violent prisoners. Actually he should serve time in both.

  • lkanzig Oct 19, 2009

    it was a bribe that he also got to use. it was more important to easley to have a green golf course for him and his buddies to play on then it was for other people to drink!
    easley and perdue both need to be run out of this state! oh wait bev is in asia! lets send old easley there as well and revoke their passports!

  • HanginTough Oct 19, 2009

    witch hunt? this reporter is just doing his job which is more then we can say of wral itself that endorsed this man and every other newspaper and television network minus Fox and most country stations and of course 94.3 here in GVL. the truth was out there but nobody had the guts to dig it up AND report it. And from what I can tell no one here is really surprised...just ready to see both Easley'e BITE THE DUST!

  • THANOS Oct 19, 2009

    "The club also granted Easley a free membership, worth an estimated $50,000..."

    Seriously? Who in their right or left mind would pay that much to hang out at a golf course? Are these folks brain-damaged?

  • Garnerwolf1 Oct 19, 2009

    The good folks of NC elected him. Twice! Now they've elected his female twin. Can someone please explain why? You knew, or should have known since it was obvious, what you were getting.

  • TheAdmiral Oct 19, 2009

    Have them both pay $50,000 restitution to start with, and then fine them for the same amount a homeowner would be fined for using 6 million gallons. One gallon at a time.

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