Thursday, October 05, 2006

Prosecutors ask Black 'The Question'

House Speaker Jim Black has said for a long time he thinks his political adversaries are out to destroy him and his political organization, but he has also said federal investigators have not targeted him in their probe of corruption about the creation and startup of the N.C. Education Lottery in 2005.
Maybe not, but the tenor of federal prosecutors’ questions in the trial of former Lottery Commissioner Kevin Geddings, on trial on eight counts of mail and wire fraud, seem aimed right at Jim Black. Geddings has even joked about the direction of the trial, at one point telling reporters, "I hope you enjoyed the first day of the Jim Black trial."
Jim Black has not been charged with any violation by federal authorities. But in Wednesday’s testimony, it seemed clear they think Black did something wrong in his choice of Geddings for the Lottery Commission. Geddings’ defense lawyers called Black to testify that his choice of Geddings was pretty much a last-minute decision and not part of a scheme concocted with former Black aide Meredith Norris, an unregistered lobbyist for a lottery company Geddings had done work for, and others. That gave prosecutors the opportunity to ask Black a question many in the Capital City had long anticipated. Here’s how Observer reporters David Ingram and Mark Johnson reported that exchange, starting with a question from Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruce:
“Is it true that during that time you also had a close, personal relationship with Meredith Norris?” Bruce asked.
Black quickly shot back: “What do you mean ‘close, personal relationship’? I like to think I’ve had a close, personal relationship with every employee I’ve had over the years.”
When pressed, Black added, “It does vary with all the employees. Some of them I hardly ever see and some of them, their duties require that I see them more.”

Black has told reporters he did not have an inappropriate relationship with Norris. But evidently federal prosecutors continue to look at that question. In a hearing in the courtroom Wednesday without jurors present, they argued they should be allowed to pursue the question because, Bruce said, it bore on the speaker’s motive and bias and “impacted governmental decisions, including this one.”
Yet after Black answered that he had a close, personal relationship with all his employees, prosecutors soon dropped the line of questioning, leaving spectators to wonder why they had brought up the question if they didn’t plan to press Black for a more definitive answer – or a flat denial.


John Hood said...

I think the prosecutors were trying to get that issue out, and out of the way, so that Black would not tiptoe around in subsequent questioning, trying to avoid inviting speculation. But others I talk to think it was a perjury trap, perhaps not well executed.

A little odd, any way you look at it.

Anonymous said...

Come on , This trial is about a witch hunt; Can you imagine suggesting that NORRIS had an affair with Jim Black; Now they are pushing it and grasping for straws in the COURT. If I was that Judge I would have thrown all of them out of the Courtroom. This is about conservatives trying to get the LOTTERY stopped again and thats all it is. If you dont want the LOTTERY move to another State that does not have it , the six states thats left , that is.

Anonymous said...

We all know this about the Republican party trying to run this State . People should take a deep look at "Bushs theory" on economics and draw a conclusion that is doesnt work . The Republicans cant get voted in no more so the have to slander their way in and then they cant handle the mass problems they face. Just look at "Fed Chairman" Bernacke , he has told Bush that we cant continue unless we raise taxes. What has happened to North Carolina is all over the place "SOCIALISM" thats what it is ; More crime=More Police More layoffs=More welfare More Problems=More services for the needy in a nutshell. As it is with the Lottery No schools=More taxes or Lottery.

Anonymous said...

John Hood or better known ART POPE Foundation/John Locke is a group of people who claim to be Republicans who dont want taxes. The Lottery is a quick and non- taxing way to pay for Schools growing pains; Sure there will be some people hurt as with raising taxes they also will be hurt. There is no way around with this many People coming to N.C. to keep up with infrastructure no more. And if I had my way I would try to discourage anyone coming here from other STATES; This state is not set up like Florida to hold as many people. Florida attracted retirees with no kids , North Carolina is getting to be a " BUM MAGNET" If John Locke wanted to make life easier for the common class they should try to stop emissions that force thousands of working class to buy newer cars getting them farther in the red and furthering Hendricks and Scott Clarks careers.

Frank Burns said...

It's interesting that the Anonymous writers think that Jim Black's problems are all part of a vast right wing conspiracy.

All of Black's problems were clearly due to his arrogance and abuse of his power. He falls right into the Liston Ramsey, Jimmy Green arm of the Democratic party. The facts show that he placed Geddings, a known employee of a lottery vendor into a position where he governs the lottery. This is clearly a conflict of interest. This is one of many conflict of interest and abuse of power problems that Mr. Black has caused.

Ms Norris, Black's former employee who became a leading lobbyist for the lottery industry, continued to have access to Black's staff and files by keeping her computer. The relationship was clearly inappropriate.

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