It sounded like a scenario in Chicago ... or New Orleans ... or “American Hustle.” Certainly not in the state that brought the world the mythical town of Mayberry.
Undercover FBI agents posing as real estate developers and investors led a three-year corruption investigation into a promising young city councilman who just five months ago became mayor. On Wednesday, the agents moved in. The city official has been accused of taking fat stacks of cash in a designer briefcase, of jetting out to Las Vegas for a well-compensated presentation of power to foreign investors, of bragging about connections from the governor’s office to the White House. Connections, he hinted, that could grease the wheels for high-dollar real estate deals.
But the sting didn’t unfold in Chicago. The agents swooped down on Patrick Cannon, the Democratic mayor of Charlotte. And the good people of North Carolina stand blinking once again in the glaring lights of another high-level corruption case aimed at yet another high-profile public official.
Lord knows, we’ve seen our share of them. Former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black, former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance, former N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps ...
Rough-and-tumble politics are hardly new to a state that weathered a barrage in the Jim Hunt-Jesse Helms U.S. Senate race of 1984. But the ugliness of money and scandal that have stained so many politicians since then make the Hunt-Helms race seem now like a bid for a high school homecoming court.
North Carolina has emerged in the 21st century as a true swing state, one where Democrats and Republicans have a real fight on their hands for votes. If Cannon is convicted of the charges he faces, he will be the latest elected official to mock the public’s trust while filling his own wallet.
Where is Sheriff Andy Taylor when we need him?