News & Observer photographer Shawn Rocco has compiled a photo gallery of images from the final day of the State Board of Elections hearings.
It looks like Ruffin Poole will testify before the State Board of Elections after all.
And State Board of Elections Chairman Larry Leake says better late than never.
On Wednesday, Poole, right-hand man for former Gov. Mike Easley, convinced
a trial court judge to quash a subpeona seeking his testimony at the hearing investigating Easley's campaign finances. The judge kept the reason for his ruling secret.
On Friday, the state Court of Appeals lifted the judge's order and reinstated the subpoena. The reasons for the trial court ruling remain secret, as does the reasoning used by the Court of Appeals.
Leake said the board would have called Poole to testify Friday, but the court ruling came after the hearing ended.
Leake said the board wants to question Poole about a series of checks mailed to him at the Easley campaign committee.
Former Gov. Mike Easley's attorney said Easley got what he wanted for in a referral to prosectors.
"I got what I asked for," said Thomas Hicks, an attorney for Easley
Hicks surprised the Board of Elections on Thursday by asking them to refer the case to the Wake County District Attorney.
Board chairman Larry Leake mentioned Easley by name as someone who may have committed criminal acts.
Hicks told reporters that investigators should focus on Easley friend McQueen Campbell, who testified that Easley asked him to falsify invoices to pay for repairs to Easley's Raleigh home. Easley said the allegation is false.
Board chairman Larry Leake said the board had received evidence that suggests Easley or others may have committed a crime.
"This board has received evidence which, if believed, would tend to indicate
that criminal violations of our election laws and campaign finance laws have occurred on the part of Mike Easley and perhaps others," Leake said.
Easley supporter and friend McQueen Campbell testified that Easley told him to file a false invoice for campaign flights to pay for repairs done to Easley's Raleigh home.
Easley said the allegation is false.
Campbell has essentially admitted to a crime. The question is whether Easley was involved.
"I think McQueen Campbell is where the emphasis should be placed," Hicks said.
State Board of Elections chairman Larry Leake said the board would still like to talk to Ruffin Poole, a patronage boss, lawyer and aide to former Gov. Mike Easley.
The N.C. Court of Appeals was considering Friday a judge's order granting Poole the right to not testify to the board.
The Board of Elections members are, from left, Anita Earls, Bob Cordle, Larry Leake, Charles Winfree and Bill Peaslee.
Staff photo by Shawn Rocco.
The State Board of Elections ordered former Gov. Mike Easley's campaign to pay $100,000 for failing to report campaign flights and sent Easley's case to the Wake County District Attorney's Office for a criminal review.
'Board chairman Larry Leake said the board had received evidence that suggests Easley or others may have committed a crime.
"This board has received evidence which, if believed, would tend to indicate that criminal violations of our election laws and campaign finance laws have occurred on the part of Mike Easley and perhaps others," Leake said.
Easley supporter and friend McQueen Campbell testified that Easley told him to file a false invoice for campaign flights to pay for repairs done to Easley's Raleigh home. Easley said the allegation is false.
The board also found that the Easley campaign solicited $9,000 in contributions by telling the contributors that the money would be earmarked for Easley's campaign, a violation of state law.
The board ordered the N.C. Democratic Party to surrender $9,000. The board decided that there was no evidence of other crimes committed by the party.
Former Gov. Mike Easley's lawyer stunned the Board of Elections by asking the case to be referred to a criminal prosecutor.
Easley's campaign quietly paid for five flights, acknowleding they were campaign-related and should have been reported.
In 1972, then-Gov. Bob Scott took a much more aggressive approach to defendng questions about his campaign finance reports, columnist Rob Christensen notes.
Photographer Shawn Rocco has compiled a photo gallery of images from Thursday and photographer Travis Long has posted a video clip of testimony by Scott Falmlen, former executive director of the N.C. Democratic Party.
The State Board of Elections has finished for the day and intends to begin discussing the case in closed session Thursday morning.
Board chairman Larry Leake told lawyers he expected the board to emerge from their closed session at 9:45 a.m.
The day was a slog through details of how the N.C. Democratic Party handled its campaign money. But the big events of the day came when lawyers delivered their closing arguments.
NO HARM: Lawyers for the N.C. Democratic Party and Easley's campaign said in closing statements that no crimes have been committed. The party maintains it followed the law. Easley's campaign acknowledges it should have accounted for all of its flights. Both sides say they forfeited money to make up for the problems.
See a photo gallery of action from Thursday's final day of testimony and arguments by News & Observer photojournalist Shawn Rocco.
The State Board of Elections allowed lawyers to make closing statements in the Gov. Mike Easley campaign finance hearings.
John Wallace, an attorney for Easley's campaign committee:
THE CAR: Easley and his campaign have paid more than $25,000 for the
use of a GMC Yukon that neither Easley, nor his committee, were paying
FLIGHTS: Tracking which flights were campaign-related has been
difficult for the committee. "One can never be sure that one has
captured all the flights and one can never be sure that all the flights
that one has scheduled in a spreadsheet occurred," Wallace said.
McQueen Campbell, who provided scores of flights for Easley, did not submit invoices to the campaign treasurer.
"Mr. Campbell failed utterly to give information to the treasurer,"
Wallace said. "I don't know what the treasurer can do if he knew
nothing about the air travel."
More after the jump.
A private investigator hired by the N.C. Democratic Party told the State Board of Elections that he believes three Republican candidates for governor took campaign flights that do not appear in their campaign finance reports.
Anthony Asbridge, a retired IRS investigator and a forensic accountant said he reviewed campaign finance reports and news accounts concerning Patrick Ballantine, Fred Smith and Bill Graham.
News reports mentioned flights related to their campaigns, but campaign finance reports for the candidates show no entries related to paying for them.
Board members had few questions for Asbridge who was apparently brought to testify that Republicans, like former Gov. Mike Easley, took unreported campaign flights.