Editorial: Rejection of petition encouraged

Jan. 09, 2013 @ 07:58 PM

Laying low and staying quiet, former Gov. Mike Easley hasn’t been heard from in about two years.

That’s how long the North Carolina State Bar suspended him following a conviction for campaign finance misconduct. Easley came back to the news cycle this week with a petition of the bar to have his license reinstated.

The bar should tell Easley no. As the only one of 74 governors in this state to be a felon, Easley joins a group of convicts who are unable to gain licenses for some 700 occupations between Murphy and Manteo.

Barbers, nurses, pest control — those are just a few felons can forget. Voters have confirmed they don’t want felons to be sheriffs either.

Easley, the two-term governor, brought this on himself when he decided to repeatedly take advantage of his position as governor, raking in thousands of dollars in perks from North Carolina’s taxpayers for he and his wife.

Trips and luxuries abroad were child’s play compared to the carnage he left behind in Raleigh, where people outside his family lost jobs as well.

Investigative journalism exposed him, and state and federal investigations with auditors soon followed.

Ever a skillful lawyer, Easley copped an Alford plea, agreeing the state had evidence to convict but failing to admit guilt, for a helicopter flight valued at $1,600. That’s it for the record, and part of the plea meant state and federal investigations were over.

Call the rest baggage, and tons of it. We can smell it even if it can’t be seen on the record.

He was fined, got the lowest grade of a felony conviction and he’s done all the bar asked of him — mainly good behavior since, and paying the expenses and administrative costs of the bar’s probe. That’s one definition of a slap on the wrist.

This 62-year-old knew what he was doing, used our money to do it, and now tries to parlay that wrist slap into a lucrative second-chance law career.

Never mind why anyone would hire him, or why he wasn’t disbarred two years ago. The bar should reject this petition.

Thieves have business as officers of the court no more than inmates running the asylum.