Commentary: Easley's country club perks

To the victor go the spoils, and the tee times. That seems to be one of the principles by which Mike Easley operated during his eight years as governor, as we now can conclude on the basis of reporting by The News & Observer's J. Andrew Curliss. Oh, and another of Easley's gubernatorial guidelines: What they don't know won't hurt 'em.

It turns out that Easley, indulging a fondness for golf that remained below the radar throughout his time in office, accepted a free pass on monthly dues at an exclusive Triangle-area golf and hobnobbing facility.

That probably wasn't the smartest thing he ever did, given that the club's membership included folks who arguably could benefit from access to the governor.

But rubbing salt in that little wound was the fact that Easley never saw fit to disclose the arrangement on annual ethics forms in which officials were supposed to declare any gifts worth more than $200. The monthly dues at Old Chatham Golf Club were $490 per month during 2001, Easley's first year as governor, and increased to $695 by the time he left office.

A case perhaps could be made that a dues waiver isn't the sort of gift that the disclosure form was intended to cover. But even if that's the case, bending over slightly backwards to comply with the spirit of the gift disclosure requirement — a requirement sustained by Easley himself in an executive order — would have been sound practice.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.