Easley Campaign & Dems Fined; Criminal Probe Requested

A district attorney has asked to be recused from investigating whether former Gov. Mike Easley or others should be prosecuted for crimes in the wake of a State Board of Elections hearing.

The board referred the case Friday to Wake County DA Colon Willoughby. But Willoughby said in an interview he asked the state court system to give the case to another prosecutor due to his longtime friendship and professional relationship with Easley.

Willoughby said the courts agreed and assigned the case to Rowan County DA Bill Kenerly.

The board said evidence showed crimes may have been committed, particularly related to unreported flights that Easley took and were piloted by former political ally McQueen Campbell.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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North Carolina elections officials have penalized former Gov. Mike Easley's campaign $100,000 for unreported airplane flights and asked prosecutors to investigate whether laws were broken.

The State Board of Elections decision Friday came after hearings into the conduct of the two-term Democrat and the state Democratic Party.

The party was ordered to forfeit $9,000 solicited by the Easley campaign.

The Easley campaign was told to give up $60,000 for flights costs and to reimburse the elections board $40,000 for its investigation.

A political ally of Easley testified this week he flew the governor dozens of times for campaign-related events.

Easley denied allegations he told the ally to file flight invoices to get money for home repairs.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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