Posts Tagged ‘Jim Hunt’

Closing the gate after the horse is out

Friday, August 6th, 2010

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

When Senator Webster and I filed the complaint asking Leake to step down from his post on the SBOE prior to the SBOE hearings on Mike Easley’s finances, we made it a point to involve the current governor. The complaint filed with the State Board of Elections states “Should Chairman Leake fail to promptly tender his resignation from the SBOE, we ask that you request the Governor act to remove him.”

So did the SBOE fail to notify the Governor of the complaint, or did the Governor personally decide to ignore Leake’s record of ignoring obvious conflicts of interest? To paraphrase the traditional question, “What did she know and when did she know it?” Obviously we were right to predict Leake would interfere in the investigation, and the complaint was worded in anticipation of his malfeasance.

If the SBOE failed to fully inform Governor Perdue of the complaint, they should all resign. If she knew Leake’s history and left him in place to prevent a full investigation, perhaps it is time for the press to ask her to step down instead of repeating their sad performance with Speaker Black and Governor Easley.
Of course, if the Hunt-Easley-Perdue-Basnight-Rand crowd can get Ripley Rand confirmed in time, maybe they can avoid Speaker Black’s fate. Anyone who isn’t expressing outrage that Hagan recommended and Obama nominated Tony Rand’s son, who is so close to Mike Easley that Easley appointed both Ripley Rand and his wife, Shannon Joseph, to the Superior Court bench, is either ignorant or oblivious or part of the good ol’ boy gang.
It was easy to predict that Leake had no business involved in investigating Easley’s fundraising. Not only was Leake a major Easley fundraiser, which means he should have been being investigated instead of guiding the investigation, he had a track record of abusing his position by ignoring clear conflicts of interest. The people interviewed at the time of the hearings praising Leake should be asked now to explain how they could have been so out of touch with reality.
And the suggestion Leake should have stepped down before the hearings can hardly be dismissed as partisan nonsense. The Wilmington Star and BlueNC had some pretty harsh words for Leake long before Senator Webster and I tried to remind the public of how bad it looked to let someone so close to those being investigated guide the investigation.
But despite the Leake fiasco, Rand’s nomination reminds me of Yogi’s “Déjà vu all over again.” When someone with an obvious and inevitable conflict of interest is put in a position that requires them to act contrary to their personal and business ties, that is not fair to the person being tempted or the public they are supposed to serve. Regardless of Ripley Rand’s personal qualifications, his personal and professional relationships should disqualify him from serving as US Attorney in North Carolina. In another state, fine, but not in North Carolina. It’s too personal.