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Everybody who wants to know what’s next in the Raleigh Scandals can get the preview by reading the following email sent out this morning by Joe (the Sledgehammer) Sinsheimer.

Inadvertently, I’m sure, Joe revealed the emails of everyone to whom he sent the statement. That makes interesting reading, but I’m not passing the list along, for fear of further angering the recipients.

Statement by Joe Sinsheimer:

“This week’s indictment of State Rep. Thomas Wright is just one reminder that the Jim Black era in state government is not behind us and there still is a great deal of investigative and reform work left to do. This morning’s Raleigh News and Observer brings three additional reminders that we are only in the middle innings of understanding the multitude of ways that Jim Black and his cronies corrupted state government.

First, the N&O reports this morning that the State Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry into how the son of former House Speaker Jim Black received contracts to provide pest control at three state prisons.

Second, the N&O reports this morning the latest details in the ongoing Randy Parton Theater debacle. None of us should forget that former Speaker Black and his sidekick Meredith Norris were enthusiastic boosters of the project and provided important state support for this misguided venture. Black’s interest in the project was directly connected to the fact that Meredith Norris’s lobbying client, Rick Watson of the Northeastern North Carolina Regional Economic Development Commission, was one of the brainchilds of the project and that Watson was an active fundraiser for Black.

Third, the N&O this morning carried press reports of the latest indictments by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of North Carolina in its ongoing investigation of how video poker operators bribed a number of western North Carolina law enforcement officials including at least three county sheriffs. As the video poker’s industry legislative sugar daddy, Black deserves part of the blame for letting this industry flourish. But we also should remember that thirty-seven (37) different members of the House Democratic Caucus accepted $86,000 in contributions from the video poker industry in 2003-2005 and served as Jim Black’s enablers in this scandal.

If the General Assembly is serious about putting this era behind us, they should use the upcoming February 2008 special session of the General Assembly to pass a law allowing investigative grand jury powers in political corruption cases. Both Attorney General Roy Cooper and Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby have spoken out about the need for this critical law enforcement tool. It is time for the General Assembly to act on this issue and prove that legislators want to fight political corruption in the state.”

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