Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Time to investigate Beverly Perdue's flights

The Raleigh News & Observer offers an easy way today to ease the regrets of N.C. Board of Elections chairman Larry Leake, who has expressed misgivings for prematurely shutting down an investigation into Gov. Beverly Perdue's campaign flights.

Says the N&O's editorial board: Schedule a round of hearings.

Leake, a Democrat, told the Associated Press earlier this month that he regretted shutting down the investigation before it reached the hearing stage. We noted then and since that the smoke was certainly there if the Board wanted to look harder for wrongdoing. Sure enough, a Wake County grand jury has subsequently indicted Perdue's campaign finance director and another campaign employee, alleging a scheme to let a Morganton businessman give the campaign $32,000 more than state law allows. That follows the February indictment of another Morganton man alleging he hid money used to pay for a 2007 flight.

What would new Board of Elections hearings accomplish? Says the N&O:

The first time around, campaign figures were spared the potential awkwardness of having to answer questions from the elections board under oath. Perhaps the investigation's outcome would have remained the same if those folks had been heard from. But it's also conceivable such testimony would have generated more interest from Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, who has declined to prosecute campaign insiders over how the flights were handled even while moving against people who arranged or bankrolled the candidate's travel on private aircraft.

Another reason: The Board of Elections happens to be looking into Perdue's past and future opponent, Pat McCrory, because of old complaints about his 2008 gubernatorial campaign. That probe, couple with the early shutdown of the Perdue investigation, doesn't look good.

Let's hope Leake shows he has more than hollow regrets.

Peter St. Onge


DistrictSix said...

I am still not sure if the Charlotte Observer is also asking for this investigation?