Chase Burns

The SBI's probe of Internet gambling corruption on the horizon

And the stakes are considerable:

The case raises clear concerns about pay-to-play politics, but there are significant other issues. One involved contributions from Chase E. Burns of Oklahoma, owner of a company that developed software for the sweepstakes machines. Burns paid $274,000 in campaign donations to North Carolina candidates and party committees from a trust fund filled with $5 million transferred from his company, International Internet Technologies. Burns’ contributions may have violated laws against direct corporate contributions to candidates, and the money itself was tainted by illegal gambling. Burns was indicted in Florida on racketeering charges and pleaded no contest to a lesser charge.

And once again, the N&O failed to mention the SBI has been moved from the Attorney General's office to answering directly to the Governor. Have McCrory's recent diatribes about being persecuted by the media forced the editorial board into being more circumspect? That conflict of interest is not imaginary, it's very real, and ignoring that conflict won't make it go away. Our Governor has demonstrated a severe lack of understanding when it comes to ethical considerations, and he needs to be put on notice that trying to influence the SBI's investigation results will land him in more hot water.

Bob Hall pushes for further investigation of sweepstakes corruption

But the system may be too subverted to take on the job:

“The report doesn’t connect the dots to all the money that changed hands,” Hall said Wednesday. “The DA and U.S. attorney have additional tools to investigate bribery, tax evasion, racketeering and public corruption. They need to use those tools for this case, as they have in the past.” Freeman said among her options is asking the State Bureau of Investigation to look into it further.

The SBI began looking into campaign donations from the video sweepstakes industry early last year, but by July, when the elections board report was made public, the agency said the case was closed. Freeman said she didn’t anticipate taking the matter to a grand jury without further investigation.

I find it interesting the SBI has the capacity to create blood-splatter evidence when it wants to railroad an innocent man straight to death row, but they can't follow a well-lit trail of illegal gambling proceeds without giving up and heading back home. Maybe because that trail was leading to their boss in the Governor's mansion:

Foley resigns from State Board of Elections

Apparently he can take a hint:

Paul J. Foley resigned early Thursday, less than a week after the Associated Press reported that for more than a year he regularly pressed staff at the agency for updates and details about the probe targeting his firm's longtime client. He eventually recused himself, but only after elections staff learned of nearly $1.3 million in payments from Chase Burns to the law firm where Foley is a partner.

Not only was Foley caught with his meddling hand in the investigation cookie jar, he very well may be playing a role in the current lawsuit in Winston-Salem, due to his involvement in suppressing the college vote in Watauga County. All that being said, I can't help but have some suspicions over the timing of his fall from grace. We were kept in the dark about this investigation into Foley until less than a week ago, and a few days after that the BoE presents its findings that nobody did anything wrong in the whole Chase Burns fiasco. The term "convenient" comes to mind, with the word "distraction" closely following on its heels.

Timeline of the Chase Burns/Paul Foley debacle

Jerry over at Watauga Watch is keeping an eye on this story:

April 19, 2013: Democracy North Carolina files a formal complaint about the Burns contributions with the SBOE, which at that time still has three Democrats and two Republicans sitting on the board. Democracy North Carolina wants to know if the contributions were made using corporate, rather than personal, funds, and was someone other than the contributor directing who received the money?

April 25, 2013: A majority on the SBOE agree that an investigation of Burns is warranted and is therefore set in motion.

April 26, 2013: Newly elected Gov. Pat McCrory replaces every board member on the SBOE to reflect the results of the 2012 elections: three new Republican members and two new Democratic members. Paul Foley is one of the Republicans appointed. The Burns investigation is already underway.

This is actually in the middle of the timeline, but it's a critical juncture: It's the point where it becomes obvious that Governor McCrory is not only watching, but he's also starting to sweat the outcome, and decides to take some action. And Foley's subsequent and apparently obsessive interest in the investigation strongly suggests the "why" he was chosen for the new board:

Rep. Mike Stone: Gambling with the Truth

The Rant has busted Rep. Mike Stone lying in print. Last week, ProgressNC held an event calling for Mike Stone to donate the $4000 campaign contribution he received from Chase Burns (something other politicians, like Pat McCrory have done) to education-related causes. In response, Stone told The Sanford Herald that he was instructed to “hold onto this money and not touch it.”

The Rant knew better and contacted the State Board of Elections. We’ll let The Rant take it from here:

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