Report: Easley took free trips

May 12, 2009 6:17:01 PM PDT
First NC State created a job for former North Carolina Governor Mike Easley's wife Mary at $180,000 a year, then the Easley's were found to be driving cars for free. Now, the News and Observer reports Easley was riding in private planes for free - to campaign and vacation.It says the pilots and patrons were people with business and board positions inside the state. One pilot is even the chair of NC State's board of trustees. The newspaper reports it's the same person who guided Easley toward coastal property, where Easley doubled his land value in just one year.

"Well, I think unfortunately we're headed right down the same path," offered Joe Sinsheimer.

Sinsheimer is a political watchdog who followed the trail of former house speaker Jim Black - which ended with Black in federal prison

"At the end of the day, there's a pattern developing which looks like the Governor was personally enriching himself. And that's what federal prosecutors will be looking at," he explained.

Duke law professor Lisa Griffin is a former federal prosecutor.

"They will have to show that he had knowledge of the benefits he received - that he received some personal enrichment, and knowingly failed to disclose it," she told Eyewitness News.

In other words, intentionally taking a gift and intentionally hiding it is enough to spell legal trouble for a politician.

"And the longer the list of benefits, the easier it is to prove that element," said Griffin.

And 6-weeks ago, Easley told us he paid for the cars that his wife and son supposedly drove for free.

"Check the tags. I owned that car. And I owned the other one too," he said.

But DMV records show Easley bought the SUV his son drove two days after he spoke to us. Then, he said it was a campaign car. One month later, the State Board of Elections says it's still looking into it.

The board has not called a public hearing like it did for Jim Black.

"The credibility of the State Board of Elections is on the line here," said Sinsheimer. "The question is, does the State Board of Elections have the political courage to hold open hearings to try to get to the bottom of this."


Load Comments