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The elephant in the video poker checks scandal room

McCrory11092012 [1]No one has presented any evidence thus far of any wrongdoing by Governor Pat McCrory or his campaign in the growing scandal [2] surrounding campaign checks from the video “sweepstakes” (aka video poker) industry, but at some point, the Governor would do well to address the issue and answer some questions.

This is because the hard and uncomfortable truth is that the checks appear to have been funneled through the law firm at which the Governor (a non-lawyer) worked for many years on matters that have never been explained and on behalf of clients that have never been identified. 

The Governor’s campaign also received a $4,000 check from the video poker industry operator who was apparently behind the whole scam (and one from his wife too), but they do not appear to have been funneled through the law firm.

The assumption here is that the questionable activity was the doing of a handful of bad apples at what is a very large law firm with lots of honorable employees. It seems implausible that the Governor (or, the Mayor — as he was then) would have ever entangled himself in any way in such shady activity.

That said, it’s hard not to feel a smidgen of concern and unease at the notion that people “down the hall” from the Governor were apparently engaged in such behavior — especially when the Governor’s  role at the firm has always been so shrouded in secrecy.  (As an aside, one can only imagine the screaming headlines we’d be seeing right now at the Pope groups if such a situation developed around a Democratic governor).

So, in keeping with time-honored wisdom that the cover-up is always worse than the scandal, Governor McCrory would do well to come out ASAP with: 1) an honest account of everything he did for Moore and Van Allen and 2) a full explanation of what, if anything, he knew about the firm’s work for the video poker industry and the people who did it.  He would also do well to do all of this in a no-holds-barred press conference in which real journalists are permitted to ask real, unscripted questions. As an added bonus, an endorsement of genuine campaign finance reform that includes real public financing of elections would be extra nice (but we won’t hold our breath on this last one).

The bottom line: Speaking up loudly and clearly on this matter will be better for McCrory and better for the state and, in all likelihood, put the matter to rest for good. Let’s hope it happens soon.