Local Politics

Political watchdog analyzes Poole's indictment, its effect on Easley

Posted January 21, 2010
Updated January 22, 2010

— Last October, former Gov. Mike Easley defended himself against accusations of campaign finance violations before the State Board of Elections.

Three months later, the indictment of his top aide and legal counsel, Ruffin Poole, details pay-to-play schemes and special favors within the Easley administration.

“If there was any doubt before today that North Carolina state government was for sale, that question’s been put to rest with this 51-count indictment,” political watchdog Joe Sinsheimer said Thursday following Poole’s indictment.

Political watchdog talks about Poole indictment Political watchdog talks about Poole indictment

While Easley wasn't named in Poole's indictment, Sinsheimer said what investigators uncovered mirrors some well-documented behavior by the former governor.

“We know that Gov. Easley was getting free flights. We know that Gov. Easley got a $135,000 discount from these same developers that were corrupting Mr. Poole. We know the governor got a free golf membership worth $50,000,” he said.

Easley attorney Joe Cheshire said Thursday that the former governor had no knowledge any any dealings between Poole and political donors.

“While Governor Easley has no knowledge of the conduct that makes up the criminal allegations (in the indictment), he has faith in Ruffin Poole and finds it hard to believe that he would ever intentionally violate the law,” Cheshire said in a statement. “Ruffin Poole, like anyone else charged with a crime, deserves the presumption of innocence, not a rush to judgment.”

Poole's political dealings with major campaign donors named in the indictment, including former Department of Transportation board member Lanny Wilson, could be trouble for Easley, Sinsheimer said.

Wilson was a major fundraiser for the Easley campaign.

“People were giving money to Lanny Wilson to give to politicians, because they believed Lanny Wilson could open doors for them inside state government. This is pay-to-play run amok in North Carolina,” Sinsheimer said.

Beyond Easley, other politicians with ties to Wilson should be concerned, including Gov. Beverly Perdue, Sinsheimer said. Wilson was a major fundraiser for Perdue.

“She makes sure the money raised for her campaigns is raised legally and reported fully as required by law,” Perdue’s spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said Thursday.

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  • North Carolina Home Jan 22, 2010

    ObjectiveScientist, we obviously both suffer from some level naivete! Devoid of vitriol, I submit that when I have tried to point out to some posters that the opportunity to change our representatives exists in the next two years, it has been met with disdain and total negativity.

    Like it or not, the people that are facing and have faced criminal indictments have been around for a very long time and a lot of somebodies had to have voted for them repeatedly!

    Seems that the representation that we have in government is surely reflective of the voting populace that put them there.

    Maybe the immigration test that new citizens have to pass should be a requirement of all natural citizens before they register to vote. Voting is a privilege and too bad most citizens take it for granted. Now that is constructive!

  • beachboater Jan 22, 2010

    "“She makes sure the money raised for her campaigns is raised legally and reported fully as required by law,” Perdue’s spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said Thursday"

    I can guarantee that Bev has no clue personally about the legality of the contributions. Nor any other politition for that matter. They depend on their treasurer for that.

  • Objective Scientist Jan 22, 2010

    I'm a lifetime NCarolinaian and I love my home state. I've traveled enough, spent enough time elsewhere in the USA and abroad to have some comparisons, still love NC. I am indeed DISGUSTED by what has gone on in high elected office and in all the high level appointed boards, etc. I'll wait for ALL the "facts" to render my final judgment on Easley and others, but at the moment it is NOT looking good for the former governor. That being said and after reading other posts for this article the amount of absolute vitriol I see on GOLO on so many topics is shocking. Some seem to truly "rip into" anyone and everyone, but NEVER seem to offer anything even resembling "constructive" alternatives to what we currently have or to what others propose. Nothing wrong with criticizing but that is easy! It is much more difficult and requires a much greater intellect to present well thought-out, constructive alternatives as opposed to emotional criticism based on paranoia. Any well thought-out solutions?

  • Retired07 Jan 22, 2010

    Citizens, have you seen enough yet?? Each of you have the power to help clean house of this whole gang with your vote. Lets show the Easleys, Bashart, Ruffin Poole, Barac Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Bob Eteridge, Bev Perdue and the rest of these thieves who this government belongs to. Get out and vote. If you recognize their name as one of the "sleezies" vote against them. ENOUGH.

  • artist Jan 22, 2010

    "You will be presented with one or two pre-selected candidates from each party. These candidates will follow partisan lines in reflective disagreement with the opposition. You will vote for the lesser of two evils. Your chioce will remain subject to corporate and lobby influences beyond your control. They'll just make it sound good on the way in from the stump.

    Without campaign finance reform and lobby free legislation there will be no such thing as a change in the American political landscape."

    Absolutely true.

    It may be that Not voting is the most American thing one can do.

  • North Carolina Home Jan 22, 2010

    citizen782, pretty negative views you're offering up

    Have you ever offered yourself for public office? Have you ever been involved in a campaign? Have you ever made an effort to study a candidate's resume? Or does this mean you don't even waste your time voting?

  • WRALblows Jan 22, 2010

    "Bottom line, if we don't like our government then we can change it both in the state and in Washington."

    Uh, no you can't. Quit living in the myth. You will be presented with one or two pre-selected candidates from each party. These candidates will follow partisan lines in reflective disagreement with the opposition. You will vote for the lesser of two evils. Your chioce will remain subject to corporate and lobby influences beyond your control. They'll just make it sound good on the way in from the stump.

    Without campaign finance reform and lobby free legislation there will be no such thing as a change in the American political landscape.

  • WRALblows Jan 22, 2010

    "Are all politicians corrupt? No."

    I'm afraid I have to emphatically disagree with you there. Find one politician that does not accept PAC money from some pet cause. Far as I'm concerned any influential campaign contributions or lobbying is the same as corruption.

    Politicians should be worried about people, not money, campaign finances or personal gains. The new campain commercials can include Sponsored By: insert list of corporate contributors here... Then the politician feels he owes a vote or two to the sponosors much in the same way a CEO feels compelled to satisfy a board or shareholders. America is almost completely goverened by proxy through corporate influence and that is bad no matter how you try to defend it.

  • Raleigh Boys Jan 22, 2010

    What is funny is there is a Facebook group to discuss him in detail.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44128307745&ref=search&sid=1373624766.144330343..1

  • North Carolina Home Jan 22, 2010

    SmallBusinessOwner, you're right about that.

    The new congressional lines will be drawn in 2011 by the people that we send to Raleigh by our votes on Nov. 2.

    If we don't like what is happening in Congress we have to change it from the local level up!

    No more gerrymandering to protect seats! Let the people vote for Congressional candidates that have a clue what is going on in their own geographic area regardless of their party affiliation.

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