Easley probe may inspire DA to seek office

December 30, 2009 

The district attorney for four Down East counties has been interviewed as part of the investigation surrounding former Gov. Mike Easley.

But Dewey Hudson, the top prosecutor for Duplin, Jones, Onslow and Sampson counties, won't talk about it.

Hudson declined to comment on any matters he has discussed with federal authorities, other than to say they involve "quite a few folks that I know, and most people do know in Eastern North Carolina, particularly elected officials." He said he did not want to impede the federal probe by speaking about it.

"I was interviewed by agents who are working on this probe of numerous officials out of Raleigh that you've been working on," Hudson told The News & Observer. Hudson said he provided information completely and fully.

Hudson, a Democrat and prosecutor for more than 30years, also said revelations this year have prompted him to consider a run for the state Senate seat in his area.

"It's just because some of the things I've been reading in the paper; you know, I can't stand corruption," he said.

The seat he could seek is now held by Sen. Charlie Albertson, a Duplin County Democrat.

You paid for fewer trips

Lawmakers didn't travel much at taxpayer expense in 2009.

Out-of-state travel spending for the first five months of this fiscal year dropped 92 percent from the same period in 2007, according to the legislature's Financial Services office. This year, the legislature spent $6,500 on travel, an average of $38 per lawmaker. Most of that money was spent on registration fees.

In 2007, the legislature spent $78,000 on travel, an average of $460 per lawmaker.

House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate leader Marc Basnight ordered a cut to travel expenses after the economic downturn.

Lawmakers typically travel out of state to legislative meetings to learn more about issues or to study ways to improve their effectiveness. The state normally reimburses legislators for travel and registration and gives them a flat daily rate of $104 to cover lodging and food.

Hackney was president of the National Conference of State Legislators for the past year and has encouraged lawmakers to attend the organization's conferences. He noted that many lawmakers paid for their own travel.

"Legislators realize that, as important as it is for them to receive continuing education, it is more important right now for the state to save every dime it can find," Hackney said in a news release.

On Marshall's team

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elaine Marshall has brought in a campaign operative with experience going up against establishment-backed candidates.

Marshall, the secretary of state, has hired A.J. Carrillo to oversee day-to-day activities and coordinate strategy.

Marshall is in a Democratic primary race that includes former state Sen. Cal Cunningham of Lexington, who has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Chapel Hill lawyer Kenneth Lewis is also running for the Democratic nomination. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, is running for re-election.

Carrillo knows what's ahead for Marshall. In 2008, he worked for Kentucky Senate candidate Greg Fisher, who finished second in a seven-member Democratic primary field to Bruce Lundsford, who was backed by the DSCC.

Two years earlier, Carrillo worked for Jerry McNerney, who upset Steve Filson, the candidate backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in California's 11th district. McNerney won, in part, by running an extensive "netroots" campaign that tapped into the support of liberal Internet contributors around the country. McNerney defeated Republican Rep. Richard Pombo in the fall.

Gingrich to speak

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will be the main attraction next month when the John Locke Foundation, the Raleigh-based think tank, celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Gingrich, who was speaker from 1995-99, was the architect of 1994 GOP revolution that saw Republicans gain control of Congress. He has his own 527 group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, and has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012.

The dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at Embassy Suites in Cary. The cost is $75.

By staff writers J Andrew Curliss, BenjaminNiolet and RobChristensen

acurliss@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4840

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