News

Commentary: What was Gov. Easley thinking?

Well, now. No wonder Mike Easley didn't want to keep old e-mails and release them.

He knew, as someone once wrote in another contest, they were like ghosts that slay. They were little time bombs waiting to go off.

And until we saw them the other day, most folks didn't know, for sure, that one of the things Easley was hiding was his and his staff's pursuit of a job for his wife, Mary.

Perhaps this explains what Mike Easley was doing with his time when he wasn't making public appearances, wasn't holding office hours and wasn't showing up for press conferences the state Commerce Department wanted him to take part in when businesses were ready to announce new jobs.

Easley had said he wouldn't be a typical governor. He didn't like to snip ribbons or show up for ceremonial functions. He wanted to use his time for other things.

And boy, they've turned out well, haven't they?

In 2005 he pushed the legislature and his close ally House Speaker Jim Black to adopt a state lottery. The final vote in the Senate was one of the legislature's darkest hours. But thanks to Joe Sinsheimer, newspaper stories and state and federal investigations of events leading up to passage of the lottery, former Speaker Black went to federal prison, and so did state Lottery Commissioner Kevin Geddins.

(The remarkable thing is that the N.C. Education Lottery, created in such sleazy fashion, has evidently been well-run and without the corruption that has marked N.C. government in the 21st century.)

Also in 2005 Easley was taking trips with such high-flyers as McQueen Campbell, a pilot whom he had appointed to the N.C. State University Board of Trustees.

Thanks to a series of e-mails that N.C. State released last week, we also know that Mike Easley commissioned his top economics adviser, Dan Gerlach, to run interference at the university for a good job for Mary Easley. And we know that Campbell – who helped the Easleys get a good deal on coastal property – also ran interference for Mary Easley with N.C. State Chancellor Jim Oblinger.

To read the complete column, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

  Comments