If I talked to you about a governor with cronies laundering money to sidestep campaign finance laws, you’d think I was talking about Mike Easley. We went through a whole soap opera about ol’ Mike, a made-up job for his wife, unauthorized campaign flights, and money laundering during the early days of the Boss Bev era. Boss Bev and her people shook their collective heads, offered up a few ‘tsk, tsks’ and told us things would be different under The Reign of The Boss Lady.
Well, it’s SSDG — Same Stuff, Different Guv. Three top members of Boss Bev’s political operation have been indicted on state campaign finance charges. North Carolina Republicans need to contain their glee. There is still that nasty business involving Stephen Laroque, Debbie Clary and Mark Hilton out there. Back during the first GOP House majority in the 90s, I was working as a reporter in the allegedly mainstream media. I uncovered what appeared to be a financial shakedown operation, targeting state employees, being run right out of the governor’s office. House Republicans held some investigative hearings on the matter, over loud objections from the Democrat minority. Then, mysteriously, the hearings were shut down and not another word was said on the matter. A reliable source of mine on Jones Street told me — off the record — that some Republicans shut the hearings down. They were scared about where things might lead. In other words, REPUBLICANS WERE SHAKING DOWN STATE EMPLOYEES FOR MONEY TOO.
The misbehavior in Raleigh is not a Democrat or Republican thing. It is a problem steeped deep within the political class — people who see politics and government as a career and a money-making opportunity, instead of public service. Cut back regulations and areas of government oversight. Cut back legislative salaries and lengths of sessions. Take the “fun” out of being in the legislature. If you take the government’s hands out of some of those cookie jars, you reduce the number of opportunities for influence peddling and corruption — and you might actually free up the economy and spur some growth.
Term limits won’t work. That will simply give us a revolving door of charlatans. Elections are the best term limits. Pay attention to what they are doing in Raleigh. Get educated on the issues. If you come across a politico who seems to enjoy Raleigh — or DC — too much, send them home. If they are excited about running for Whip or Speaker or Majority Leader, or setting up a leadership PAC, it’s time to bring them home.