Local Politics

Easley aide to appear before elections board

Posted December 9, 2009 3:47 p.m. EST

— An aide to former Gov. Mike Easley is scheduled to appear before the State Board of Elections next week.

Ruffin Poole, who served as Easley's lawyer during the governor's two terms in office, will attend a Dec. 17 hearing, elections board Executive Director Gary Bartlett said Wednesday.

The board subpoenaed Poole in October to testify during its hearing into alleged campaign finance violations by Easley and his campaign, but Poole convinced a Superior Court judge to quash the subpoena. He argued that his testimony could violate the legally protected conversations he had with Easley as his attorney.

The state Court of Appeals overturned the judge's decision, ruling that Poole should comply with the subpoena because he was a government lawyer and not Easley's personal attorney.

The court's ruling came after the elections board turned the findings of its five-day hearing over to Wake County prosecutors, saying evidence from the hearing "suggests" criminal violations by Easley and possibly others.

The board also ordered Easley's campaign to forfeit $60,000 and fined the campaign another $40,000 for violations of campaign finance law related to unreported flights that major donors provided to Easley aboard their private planes.

Elections board Chairman Larry Leake said at the time that the hearing would be held open to allow members to hear from Poole.