05/17/09 — A new black eye: Democratic leadership had better make sure we are done now

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A new black eye: Democratic leadership had better make sure we are done now

How much longer is it going to take to clean out all the gunk, corruption and other distasteful abuses of power that seem to be associated with the Democratic control of North Carolina state government?
How many more times will this state make national news as a high-ranking official -- not just some flunky in a legislative office -- is forced to resign or worse because of some inappropriate use of power or out-and-out greed and lawlessness?
This week's revelation that Gov. Mike Easley is under investigation for possible misuse of campaign funds and plane rides while serving the citizens of North Carolina explains a few things.
No wonder he did not have seem to have time to visit any portion of North Carolina other than the beltway around Raleigh -- he was too busy jetting around the country in his buddies' private jets.
After all, a governor has to have his priorities.
And, of course, the accompanying queries into the hiring of his wife, Mary, at an enormous salary at North Carolina State University are just as shocking and just as puzzling.
But the real concern about the Easley fiascos and the potential for yet another high-profile fall from grace on the Democrats' side of the aisle is why now is the first the citizens of this state have heard about it.
If the rumors are true and Easley had become a pariah in his own party, why wasn't someone else speaking up about potential concerns well before the November 2008 election? Why wasn't some action taken and some leadership shown from a party that had to know ethics wasn't what it was becoming known for?
Let's hope it wasn't party bosses' attempts not to tarnish the then-lieutenant governor's chances at winning the seat herself. A turn against Democrats -- already a problem because of what has seemed to be an unending line of embarrassing scandal and corruption -- could have spelled the end for many of those who were in charge in Raleigh -- Barack Obama or no Barack Obama.
Easley will remain innocent until proven guilty -- and he claims he is innocent.
But this is an important time for the North Carolina Democratic Party and its leadership. It is time to clean house, to point out corruption and to eject anyone whose longevity or ego have made him or her think that he or she can take whatever perks or liberties that are available to be had without regard to integrity, honor or duty.
And if they don't, when the next elections roll around, it will be time to do the cleanup work ourselves.

Published in Editorials on May 17, 2009 12:05 AM