It seems, or at least appears from reading the newspapers, that each successive generation of Democratic leaders in North Carolina is less concerned about rooting out corruption.
Former ‘Governor for Life’ Jim Hunt, not my favorite elected official, may have occasionally tolerated a little bit of what a Tammany Hall politician once called ‘honest graft’ – but not much. Some things he’d tolerate. But, then he’d draw a line in the sand. His successor, Governor Mike Easley has turned out to be less diligent, and well, Jim Black broke the sound barrier.
The point is over the past sixteen years, it seems from Hunt to the present day, corruption has been like the proverbial camel getting its nose under the tent flap. And State Treasurer Richard Moore, one of the two leading Democratic candidates for governor, seems to be taking the tradition a step further.
Not long ago, three of Mr. Moore’s political contributors decided to form a company to sell supplemental vision and dental insurance to state retirees. I’ll spare you the details of how (you can read them in the News and Observer), but Moore’s office helped out by, effectively, eliminating their competition.
Each month Treasurer Moore’s office delivers to his contributors company, free of charge, a list of North Carolina’s 200,000 government retirees. But he refuses to make the same list available to their competitors – including other insurance companies and state employee associations (one of which offers vision and dental insurance for slightly less that provides broader coverage).
Moore argues – vigorously – that this is not a case of favoritism. He says he has no choice in the matter. That for him to give the list – to any group other than the one he has designated, which is owned by his contributors – would violate a personal law the legislature passed last year.
However, the State Senator who wrote the legislation says that is not what the law means at all. That Moore is wrong.
Treasurer Moore is certainly not the first elected official to accept contributions from people who profit by doing business with the state. But eliminating his contributors’ competition does seem to be breaking new ground.
Unfortunately, my own party, the Republicans, have refrained from speaking out on Mr. Moore’s peccadilloes. One hopes they are simply waiting for the General Election. That after the primary – if Moore wins – the first words out of the Republican nominee’s mouth will be, “Mr. Moore, explain this.”
In the meantime the Democrats can contemplate what it means – to the Democratic Party – if he is elected governor.
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