Some party poopers are decrying the naming of a state bridge after a fellow caught in the middle of some sleazy dealings.
He was a political wheeler-dealer pushed off the state Board of Transportation in 2010 when state and federal investigations into shenanigans in the Easley administration got too hot.
Wilson was behind a Carteret County real estate development where Easley received a $137,000 discount on a lot. According to the N&O, “In an indictment of Easley aide Ruffin Poole – who later was sentenced to a year in federal prison for tax evasion – prosecutors said Wilson gave money and gifts to Poole to secure political access and advance his real estate interests.”
The State Board of Elections also said that Easley’s campaign had accepted illegal contributions from Wilson.
But none of this is a crime, apparently, in North Carolina. As supporters of the bridge naming say, he was never charged with or convicted of anything. And, all important, he brought home the boodle to Wilmington, including money for the parkway.
State bureaucrats seem to agree. State Transportation Secretary Gene Conti was scheduled to be on hand for the naming rites.
Senate GOP chief leader Phil Berger is among those tut-tutting those responsible for the naming, including Gov. Bev Perdue.
“Now, with a nod to her predecessor and mentor Mike Easley, Perdue is allowing our roads and bridges to bear the namesake of top campaign donors, political cronies, and co-conspirators in the scandals that led to Easley’s felony conviction,” he said in a statement.
It’s obvious Berger isn’t in touch with the spirit of the times or state. That’s what it’s all about: grabbing more money from a debt-ridden state. In this spirit, here are a few more ideas:
- The Sen. John Edwards Toll Road. It will connect the Two Americas.
- The Ruffin Poole Gift Shop at the North Carolina Museum of History.
- The Meg Scott Phipps Cattle Barn at the state fairgrounds.
- The James B. Black School of Optometry at UNC.
- And of course Mike Easley elementary schools across the landscape.
Let’s face it, that’s how the game is played in late 2012. Grab as much loot as you can. What’s wrong with that?