Gary Pearce, Democratic Party consultant and biographer of former Gov. Jim Hunt:
"Any good he did as governor is overshadowed by this. What Gov. Easley has got to know is that from now on, whenever someone writes about him or when his obituary is written some day, the first phrase following the comma after his name will be, 'the first governor convicted of a felony.' This is what people will remember about him. This is what history will say about him."
Rep. Thom Tillis, GOP legislator from Cornelius who will be the next speaker of the N.C. House:
"This is a sad day for North Carolina. I have been here [in the capital] for four years, and I have seen four high-ranking Democrats go to jail or receive convictions. I just think that is devastating for our democracy and our reputation."
Jane Pinsky, director of the nonpartisan N.C. Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform:
"He got much less than he deserved. I think he got off easy, and I don't think that sends a good message to the people of North Carolina. You put it in comparison to Jim Black, Meg Scott Phipps, Thomas Wright or even Ruffin Poole. Everything Easley did he did for his own personal advancement or to fill his own pocket."
John Hood, president and chairman of the conservative John Locke Foundation:
"Having seen a number of these plea bargains in public corruption cases, I think it's important not to get too carried away on what could have happened. You want to focus on what actually happened. The governor pleaded guilty to a felony. There's no question, based on the media reporting on what has come out over the last couple years, one might have imagined additional charges and more serious punishments."
Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat who followed Easley into the Executive Mansion:
"Today marks the ending of a difficult period for the people of North Carolina. As we enter the holiday season we must refocus on what's important to move this state forward in the New Year - creating jobs for our people and educating our children. I look forward to putting this issue behind us."
Joe Sinsheimer, Democratic Party consultant turned government watchdog:
"Just because federal prosecutors decided that Gov. Easley's behavior stopped just short of criminal behavior doesn't mean his actions were ethical or appropriate. The office of governor comes with many perks, but free use of private aircraft is not one of them. If Mike and Mary Easley's lives have been destroyed as their attorney suggests, it is a result of their own greed and sense of entitlement."
Tom Fetzer, state GOP chairman:
"To paraphrase a commercial on television, Mr. Easley paid a thousand-dollar fine, but the damage he did to North Carolina's reputation was priceless. I think North Carolina has developed a reputation for being a very corrupt state, and that's a tragic thing."
Staff writer Michael Biesecker