Governor-elect Pat McCrory promised to end the pay-to-play culture in North Carolina. You can hope that he will not be as crazy as current Democratic transportation officials who last week named a bridge after Lanny Wilson of Wilmington. Mr. Wilson is the mega-developer/fundraiser in the middle of the 2009 Mike Easley scandal that involved illegal political donations, including Wilson’s, as well as lucrative and illegal land deals with state officials in a coastal development that Wilson financed. In his heyday, Wilson was rewarded for the hundreds of thousands he funneled into political campaigns with an appointment on the NC Board of Transportation, a position he used to move more DOT money into more projects in New Hanover County. As the Easley scandal began to unfold, Wilson wisely decided to use his insider’s knowledge to help the U.S. Attorney prosecute public officials; that got him some embarrassing publicity but he eluded jail time. Now, putting Wilson’s name on a Wilmington-area bridge is akin to erecting a bright green sign that shouts, “Tribute to Pay-to-Play Corruption.”
Oops, maybe Gov. McCrory and his team are afflicted with the same blind spot when it comes to giving favors to wealthy donors. Today, WRAL reveals that the new Foundation for North Carolina (which McCrory’s campaign manager created) is raising super-sized donations with the promise of cozy insider meetings with Gov. McCrory next spring and fall, plus honored treatment at inauguration events in a few weeks. Maybe next they’ll be auctioning off nights at the governor’s mansion and positions on the new Board of Transportation.