11/24/10 — Unbelievable: Why did state bother spending the money to investigate Easley?

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Unbelievable: Why did state bother spending the money to investigate Easley?

They are kidding, right?

After months of listening to blowhards pontificate on the corruption in the Mike Easley administration, and what is likely hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in investigation costs, the ordeal ended with a whimper and a $1,000 fine for the embattled former governor.

There are more than a few people who have something to answer for in this one.

First off, the Republicans. There is no question that this was based, in part, on partisanship. Why in the world was this not vetted more efficiently to see if this was worth the time and money?

Easley comes out of this looking like he bent the rules, but did not break them -- so, what was the purpose? Other than to make sure there was another black mark on a Democratic power broker, of course.

Secondly, the Democrats. You knew this guy and some of his associates were not playing by the rules -- why did it take so long to stop him? Was it putting your heads in the sand, inattention to detail or is this a pervasive mindset among North Carolina Democrats that you take what you can get, don't get caught and move on to the next conquest?

No matter which answer it is -- or even if there is another explanation -- North Carolina taxpayers have a right to be more than a little miffed.

In an economy where people face job loss and tight bank accounts every day, the most reasonable expectation of behavior from our leaders should be fiscal responsibility.

If there was this little they could "get" him on, Easley should have been allowed to slink off into the distance never to be heard from again.

So the Easley era ends with more questions than answers -- and a pretty uneasy feeling that we have only touched the surface of the shenanigans that were very likely a regular part of his administration and its key players.

It would likely scare us to know just how many other sweetheart deals, behind the scenes negotiations and skirting the rules decisions were made during the governor's terms in office.

In the end, North Carolina should learn a lesson about leaving someone -- or one party -- in power for too long. Absolute power corrupts absolutely -- nearly every time. The Founding Fathers put checks and balances into the federal system to counteract that tendency, and it is a model North Carolina should remember.

It is time to say goodbye to Easley and his cronies.

It seems likely they got away with at least one.

Published in Editorials on November 24, 2010 10:40 AM