It looks like – from the newspaper – Democratic Senate Leader Tony Rand had a scheme to turn 140,000 shares of ‘penny stock’ he owned in Law Enforcement Associates (where Rand serves as Chairman of the Board) into a windfall.
First, it seems, Rand tipped (or otherwise persuaded) a few of his political friends like Governor Easley to buy the stock, then he set the wheels of political capitalism in motion. The headline in the News and Observer described what happened next pretty succinctly: State Spent Thousands on LEA Gear.
In other words politicians buy LEA stock, the state buys LEA’s products, LEA’s stock goes up and the politicians reap a windfall.
Except the plan hit a snag: A former LEA executive told the U.S. Attorney what was going on and the News and Observer showed up on Rand’s doorstep. Some politicians might have been nonplussed by a reporter asking him how his company sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in police equipment – like a jacket with cameras hidden in it – to state government but Rand hardly blinked.
“My God,” he exclaimed, “I don’t have anything to do with sales. I don’t have a clue about that.”
Next the reporter asked Rand if the Division of Motor Vehicles – which is headed by one of Rand’s cronies, who owns 30,000 shares of LEA stock – buying $64,000 in equipment from LEA wasn’t a conflict of interest.
Nope, Rand said, because he hadn’t even known his friend owned LEA stock.
The reporter doggedly plowed ahead asking about a no-bid state contract approved by another Rand ally, DOT Secretary Lyndo Tippett – who owns 36,000 shares – to purchase LEA equipment. Then, finally, he asked Rand about a report he’d called sheriffs and invited them to a luncheon – to sell them LEA equipment.
Now buying North Carolina’s sheriff’s lunch might not have sounded so bad except President Obama put $4 billion for law enforcement grants in the Stimulus Act – money to be passed out by Democrats in Washington and Raleigh. So it looks like Rand may have been urging sheriffs to buy equipment from a company, well, owned by some of the potential grant givers.
And here’s the oddest twist of all: When Rand announced it was time for him to hang up his spurs and resign from the State Senate – Governor Perdue promptly made him head of the Paroles Commission.