Getting Off Easley?
Is that all there is?
Friend and foe are left asking that question in the wake of the resolution of the prosecutorial case against former Gov. Mike Easley.
Given all that has come out in the way of evidence that the governor and his political operatives took a pretty light and breezy attitude toward campaign ethics laws over an extended period, opponents can’t shake the idea that he’s getting off easy.
But if a guilty plea and a piddly $1,000 fine for one relatively minor ethics violation was really the best that the state could come up with after a two-year investigation, it tends to reinforce the charge by Easley’s supporters that he was the victim of a witch hunt by people looking for some dirt to dig up.
Either way, here you have the first governor in North Carolina history to admit committing a felony while in office. Though his lawyer’s attempt to blame it all on the press doesn’t hold water, it’s hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy toward this enigmatic man whose good name has now been dealt such a damaging blow for actions that appear relatively benign compared with those of, say, a Rod Blagojevich.
If one good thing has come out of this sordid and sorry story, it is that Easley’s public disgrace ought to serve as a powerful deterrent to future governors tempted to sail on the windy side of the law.
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