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Mike Easley, Former N.C. Governor, Convicted on Felony Campaign Finance Charge

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Former North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley was convicted on Tuesday of knowingly filing a false campaign report, becoming the state's first governor to admit to a felony. The plea by Easley, a Democrat who was governor from 2001 to 2009, halts state and federal investigations that lasted nearly two years.

The 60-year-old former prosecutor and two-term attorney general admitted that he failed to indicate on a required campaign disclosure that he took a $1,600 helicopter ride with a supporter -- McQueen Campbell, the former chairman of the board of trustees at N.C. State University -- in October 2006, said The News & Observer. Easley will not serve time but will pay a fine of $1,000, plus $153 in court costs. He also risks losing his law license. Easley entered an Alford plea, which means that while he did not admit guilt, he acknowledged there was sufficient evidence to convict him of a crime.

Mike Easley"I have to take responsibility for what the campaign does," Easley told Wake County Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith. "The buck has to stop somewhere. It stops with me, and I take responsibility for what has occurred in this incident."

Easley's attorneys took aim at media reports on Easley's troubles over the past two years.

The News & Observer
, the Carolina Journal and the Charlotte Observer have reported on several issues tied to Easley in articles that looked into his role in creating a position for his wife at N.C. State (she was later fired by university trustees); "how his family members had been driving cars they didn't own; and how he received a $137,000 discount on a lot at a coastal development called Cannonsgate at the height of the real estate boom," said The N&O.

In a letter to Easley's lawyers, federal authorities said they would close their probe. The letter, signed by the lead federal prosecutors, including Republican George E.B. Holding, said that "some of the acts and transactions" they reviewed do not warrant prosecution because a standard for presenting those items to the grand jury has not been met.

In a statement issued Tuesday, William Kenerly, the state prosecutor who handled the case, acknowledged that his decision to accept Easley's plea would be criticized. But he said that "hotly contested" facts and "vague statutes" were why he did so. Kenerly, a Republican, said he believes the plea deal serves "the interests of justice in this case."

"Any good he did as governor is overshadowed by this," Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic Party consultant, told the N&O. "[F]rom now on, whenever someone writes about him, or when his obituary is written some day, the first phrase following the comma after his name will be 'the first governor convicted of a felony.' "

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19 Comments

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Sandy

He should be disgraced doing time in prison for a felony....that's what they would do to you and I. What a waste of time and money.

November 25 2010 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ron

It's time for Stephen King to write a novel about the horrors and felonies of politics. It could be a first non fiction novel for him. Maybe, about why candidates and lobbyists wastes many millions of dollars so someone can get elected to a job that pays a couple of hundred thousand a year. Where's the economics in that? And why, we, the Mob are so stupid to allow this travesty of evolved government to continue. Like, why is the government hiring 16,000 people to handle Obamacare when it could have been outsourced to existing insurance companies put under government regulations. If we can't even deliver mail profitably, just think what will happen when we run healthcare. Like dope addicts, maybe this nation has to hit bottom before it's rescued from itself.

November 25 2010 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rvbsongwriter

Jesus loves me yes I know......

November 24 2010 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
landskp4u

Do I understand this article correctly? There was a two year investigation and the guy gets a $1000 fine and $153 court costs charge? Who pays the salaries of the poeple doing the investigation for the last two years. The article does not indicate how many hours or people were involved. I doubt a thousand bucks is going to recoup any of the costs involved. This is a perfect example of goverment spending wasting taxpayer dollars. Fine the guy $250,000, and then maaaybbbbeeee it was a worthwhile investment in time, depending on the number of investigators involved. It would be different if the governor was found innocent and no charges could possibly be filed, then $153 would seem more than fair.

November 24 2010 at 7:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cpsldavis

The big surprise here is that you actually learn the Governor's political affiliation in the first paragraph. Normally when a Democrat is involved you have to wait till the end of the piece or it leaves you guessing. If a piece is written about a Republican that is the word that leads the story.

November 24 2010 at 7:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ddstan1120

In Louisiana, they finally caught up with Governor Edwin Edwards, after years of trying, and gave that crook 10 years in prison, which is about to end in a few months. He had to serve the whole time. This is what we should do to every crooked politician that is caught betraying the voters trust!!

November 24 2010 at 6:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rjen164497

It's the democratic, leftest way. Just look at the Obama Administration. How many Tax ivaders are in the administration? Sharpton and Waters. Obama the Soris puppet.

November 24 2010 at 6:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
TONY DEE'S STORE

YEP...........THATS OUR LAWBRAKERS OOPS LAW MAKERS ;+{

November 24 2010 at 4:31 PM Report abuse +21 rate up rate down Reply
Kevin

2 Years of tax payers paying the bill to investigate, I can only imagine how much $$$$ that cost. And he get's a $1,000.00 fine.

November 24 2010 at 4:07 PM Report abuse +20 rate up rate down Reply
fred

Think this was the only item he would be charged with? Think again. Oh well; at least now the feds have time to indict Rankin for tax evasion.....(RIGHT!! like that's going to happen!!).

November 24 2010 at 4:07 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply

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