Local Politics

Easley campaign goes before elections board

Posted October 26, 2009

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— Months of probing by state investigators culminates Monday in the first campaign finance hearing in North Carolina history for a former governor.

More than two dozen of Easley's former aides, contributors and Democratic Party backers have been subpoenaed to testify in the State Board of Elections hearing, which starts at 11 a..m. in a downtown Raleigh hotel and could last up to a week.

Easley also has been subpoenaed, but it's unknown whether he will even show up for much of the hearing.

If he exercises his Fifth Amendment right not to testify, he would have to appear to sign a document to that effect. Beyond that, observers disagree on whether the former governor will break his silence about the campaign finance investigation.

He has made no public comment about the probe, other than issuing a statement in May saying he welcomed the investigation and was sure he would be cleared of wrongdoing.

WRAL News will provide live coverage of the entire hearing, along with expert analysis, on WRAL.com, WRAL Mobile, over-the-air channel 50.3 and Time Warner Cable channel 252.

"I think the governor's arrogance and ego will compel him to try to answer questions before the state board," said Joe Sinsheimer, a Democratic political consultant whose complaints sparked public hearings into the campaign finances of former House Speaker Jim Black and former Rep. Thomas Wright.

Kieran Shanahan, a defense attorney who's not associated with the Easley case, said he would advise the former governor to keep his mouth shut.

"I would sit on him to make sure he used the Fifth Amendment. That is the only correct move at this point," Shanahan said.

Questions surround amended finance reports Easley's campaign filed in April after previously failing to disclose the use of an SUV provided by a Red Springs car dealer. The campaign is also under scrutiny over unreported flights on private planes, which could have violated donation limits.

State law prohibits political contributions from corporations and limits individual donations to $4,000 per candidate in any election cycle. The value of some flights appear to be more than $4,000, or would surpass the limit when combined with other donations.

In July , the state Democratic Party forfeited more than $24,000 to the elections board in an attempt to resolve questions over several "in-kind" donations during the 2004 campaign, most of which originated from donors who also have acknowledged flying Easley around while governor.

Andrew Whalen, executive director of the Democratic Party, issued a statement Monday morning saying that the party will continue to cooperate with the elections board's investigation.

"For our democracy to function effectively, it is imperative that the people of North Carolina have confidence in the electoral process," Whalen said. "We are confident that a fair, impartial and unbiased hearing by the State Board of Elections will help restore and maintain trust in the integrity of our political system."

The list of those subpoenaed so far includes former Democratic Party officials Jerry Meek and Scott Falmlen, former Easley aides Cari Boyce and Ruffin Poole and former Revenue Secretary Muriel Offerman. Highway Patrol Capt. Alan Melvin, who headed Easley's security detail, and former state Department of Transportation board members Lannie Wilson and Cameron McRae also have been subpoenaed.

McRae, a Bojangles' franchisee, former North Carolina State University board chairman McQueen Campbell, hog baron Wendell Murphy and developers Gary Allen and Nick Garrett are among the political contributors subpoenaed in the case.

It's unclear who on the list will actually be called as witnesses.

The elections board could take no action or issue a fine or reprimand. The board's findings could also be turned over to the Wake County District Attorney's Office for possible criminal prosecution.


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  • Just the facts mam Oct 26, 2009

    At least he will have a lot of friends to keep him company where he is going - Jim Black for example.

  • SME2 Oct 26, 2009

    This Dem is the worst, most corrupt Governor this state has ever had.- Deacons

    Being a Dem has nothing to do with how bad this dude is/was. Bad apples like this are around no matter what their party affiliation.

    I just get sooo tired of seeing these stories. You really can not call this news at this point.

  • mrr03 Oct 26, 2009

    Mike Easley aka. The Bad Boy of NC State Government

  • EasyGoer Oct 26, 2009

    Its seems to me if you really want to do well in this world you have to Lie, Cheat, and Steal. People apparently don't care what you do as long as you talk a good game. Lots of people voted for him as well as old Bev. They all are taking us to the cleaners at the State and National level. There are no morals or values left in politics not sure if there ever was.

  • Made In USA Oct 26, 2009

    After such a long time of revealing such poor judgement with the use of North carolina taxpayer's money, it is my hope that swift conviction will prevail from these expensive investigations.

  • Deacons Oct 26, 2009

    This Dem is the worst, most corrupt Governor this state has ever had.

  • Beachnut Oct 26, 2009

    Easley will have nothing to say at the hearing except "I plead the fifth". There is absolutely no upside in answering questions. Unless the feds have enough to indict, he just needs to keep his mouth shut and the issue will blow over in time.

  • time4real Oct 26, 2009

    i say give him his freedom if he can implicate Bev in anything that can be used to remove her NOW! If he can't, lock him and his wife up!!

  • ncguy Oct 26, 2009

    Get ready for the Easley shuffle...

  • HanginTough Oct 26, 2009

    twistin in the wind....