Two guys rob a bank. Both plan the crime, but one drives the get-away car and the other does the robbery.
When police catch up with the getaway car, they capture only the driver. Do investigators A) arrest and interrogate him or B) let him go without asking any questions and then claim they can't solve the crime because they have no evidence?
That depends on if they work for the North Carolina Board of Elections, in which case the answer is "B."
Let's go back to the bank robbery. How would it go over with the public if law enforcement announced they couldn't find enough evidence to catch or convict the bank robber, and then it came out that the chief of police was appointed to his position by the bank robber? Worse yet, what if police reports had been altered so the public wouldn't learn that police didn't bother to interview the guy driving the getaway car before they declared the crime unsolvable?
Heads would roll. The public would demand everyone's resignation. Instead, so far, our governor, Beverly E. Perdue, has gotten away with robbing the bank.
One of the ways that big donors funnel illegal campaign contributions to politicians is by "arranging" paid plane flights for them. (Candidates spend hundreds of thousands of dollars jetting around the state to raise money and campaign. It's a major campaign expense.)
Candidates are supposed to disclose these flights by law; they are counted as contributions.
Former state house speaker Jim Black went to federal prison for swapping illegal cash in a bathroom. Trading cash for flight time for a candidate is the same thing, just one step removed. The campaign of Gov. Beverly E. Perdue did it 41 times (that we know of) without disclosing it. She says her campaign "forgot" to disclose them — all 41 of them.
Whether the planning for the flights took place in a bathroom is unknown. The guy who would know the most about them, the guy who drove the proverbial getaway car, wasn't questioned by the State Board of Elections investigator. That's because Board of Elections Chairman Larry Leake blocked the board's elections investigator from grilling Perdue campaign and staff manager Zach Ambrose about the flights.
Then Leake, who was appointed to his position by Perdue, went a step further. He and elections officials deleted the part of the investigator's report that noted that she hadn't been allowed to interview Ambrose, the guy driving the getaway car.
Then they put out a letter saying they'd found no evidence of wrongdoing by Perdue's campaign. Case closed.
When the investigator, Kim Strach, blew the whistle by going to the media, she was essentially demoted and legislators found $100,000 to create a new position at the board to replace hers. Perdue's people then attacked Strach, saying she couldn't be impartial since her husband did volunteer legal work with the state Republican Party. (Oddly, they had no issue with that when she was successfully investigating Republican campaign violations.)
The situation is a serious one. Former North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley is currently under investigation by a federal grand jury for doing exactly what Perdue did — taking at least $60,000 in flights he didn't disclose. Three major state newspapers have called for Leake's resignation. And before Strach was blocked from investigating, she had begun to uncover other flights the campaign didn't disclose.
Yet there's been barely a peep out of the governor about this. Over the weekend, it got worse. Since Perdue's appointees to the Board of Elections can't restrain Strach from investigating with media across the state watching, Strach was able to finally get that meeting. She uncovered a well-tracked list of Perdue's flights that her campaigns hadn't turned over during the last investigation, the one where the Board found no intentional wrongdoing.
If they have any integrity at all, the FBI under Obama will investigate. No institution in the state, including the attorney general's office, can be trusted to do it, since all are run by either Perdue or the state Democratic cabal.
Perdue recently told the News & Observer that the elections board should be held to the "highest standards of accountability." Just not in her case, apparently.