Local Politics

Lawmakers: Black's Possible Resignation, Plea 'Sad Day'

Posted February 14, 2007 1:17 p.m. EST
Updated February 14, 2007 1:26 p.m. EST

— Reports that former House Speaker Jim Black is poised to resign his legislative seat and plead guilty to a federal corruption charge had the General Assembly buzzing Wednesday.

Black's lawyer told The Charlotte Observer that the veteran lawmaker would plead guilty Thursday to one count of accepting illegal gratuities. The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Because state law bans felons from holding office, Black, D-Mecklenburg, would have to resign his 100th District seat in the House before pleading guilty.

"We've all talked about this one to death over the past six months to a year. It's just a sad closure to what should have been a stellar career," said Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange.

"He's been a good leader for North Carolina, and I just think it's a sad day," said Rep. Joe Tolson, D-Edgecombe.

"With this black mark on our institution, what do we do to change to fix things to restore public confidence and make sure nothing like this happens again," said Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford.

Black, 71, held the House speakership for a record eight years.

If he resigns, the executive committee of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party would meet to name a replacement. Gov. Mike Easley would then officially appoint that person to fill the rest of Black's two-year term.