Another campaign contributor to disgraced former Speaker of the House Jim Black is headed to prison. Video poker maven Michael Waguespack was sentenced to five years in Federal prison for money laundering profits from his video poker business.
Waguespack gave Black at least $2000, some of which came to Black on the same day that video poker bosses gave Black $7,800. For years the video poker operators poor mouthed their meager earnings as a defense against more regulation by the state. I always wondered, if a poker machine only made $500 a month, like the owners claimed, then why would they be willing to make donations into the tens of thousands of dollars to Jim Black? (I’m guessing those machines made a lot more than $500 per month and it was unreported as income.)
We now know the answer. Jim Black used his position as Speaker to protect video poker from efforts by North Carolina’s Sheriffs to end the games while taking campaign contributions that most likely came from those same machines. (When you need to launder millions, a couple of thousand is chump change.)
While the detection of more crimes related to Black continues, so do efforts in the NC Legislature to clean up the things he managed to write into law. You may recall in 2005, Black pushed for legislation that would lower insurance co-payments for chiropractors. This netted the back doctors additional income in the millions. During Black’s trial it was revealed that a group of chiropractors had bribed Black with at least $29,000, much of which he accepted in various men’s rooms around the state. The legislature repealed this provision last year.
This year’s budget also guts one of Black’s pet projects: eye exams for children. Black originally pushed through a mandatory eye exam for all children entering kindergarten, a move that would have added millions of new customers to Black’s fellow optometrists. After watering it down last year, the House passed its version of the budget without the eye exam provision included.
How long will it be before everything Black was involved in comes to light? Stay tuned to find out….