In assessing the guilty plea by Ruffin Poole, and its possible effects
for former Gov. Mike Easley, an N&O editorial today wondered: "Perhaps Poole
can even solve the mystery of what happened to Easley's travel records for 2005 — records whose disappearance would have to be called convenient for the former guv."
That issue, for those who don't remember, involved records of travel and
events by Easley that were turned over to the N&O last year by the
state Highway Patrol, J. Andrew Curliss reports on the Investigations blog. The N&O requested records for 2003 to 2009.
Many were provided, but all of 2005 was missing.
And that was a big year for Easley. He traveled with McQueen
Campbell at least once to Florida on a fishing trip; it's unclear where
he stayed, or who paid. His wife got a job at N.C. State University. And
Easley acquired a lot at Cannonsgate — a waterfront parcel that came
with a $137,000 discount at closing.
But might Poole know?
On Feb. 18 last year, The N&O received notice it would get the
travel records within a day.
That same date, state Highway Patrol Capt. Alan Melvin — who had headed
the governor's protection detail in 2005 — visited Easley's home and
delivered a package. Melvin initially denied that he was there,
according to a patrol spokesman. Later, Melvin and Easley said that
Melvin had dropped off either a hard drive or a laptop.
When the N&O tried to ask Melvin at the time what he was doing
there, he said he was delivering "personal items" and
Melvin was at the Easley home in the afternoon.
What the N&O hasn't reported previously is that Ruffin Poole was at
Easley's home in West Raleigh that morning.
Poole spent at least an hour there, along with Easley's former chief of
staff, Franklin Freeman. Within two months, both Poole and Freeman would join the McGuireWoods
law firm along with Easley.
Were the three men discussing law firms that morning?
Not so, Poole told the N&O when asked a few days after his visit.
Poole said he was there for the same reason that Melvin said: He was
delivering some things to the former governor.
"I was dropping off personal items," Poole said at the time. "He had
left some eye glasses at the mansion, and some things in a box, and I
was taking them back."