The missing “C” word

In an otherwise fair-minded column about Republican proposals to limit the terms of leaders in the General Assembly, the N&O‘s Rob Christensen ignores the elephant in the room: corruption.

Christensen portrays the concern over lengthy tenures as a simple civics lesson over separation of powers, stemming from the reforms in the 1970s allowing governors to serve consecutive terms:

With governors serving eight years, legislative leaders felt disadvantaged with short terms. The conventional wisdom is that length of service translates into political savvy and power.

 

[SNIP]

 

There are tradeoffs to the question of longevity. By limiting terms, you make the system more democratic, allow more talent to rise and perhaps lessen the dangers for scandal.

 

But on the other side, it could mean a weaker legislative branch – the governmental body that is closest to the people. A weakened legislature usually means a strengthened governor, more powerful lobbyists and a more influential legislative staff.

But Christensen’s so-called “moderates” who began buying, not renting the offices of House speaker and Senate president pro tem ā€” Jim Black and Marc Basnight ā€” were noted for engaging in and benefiting from, well, bribery, slush funds, influence peddling, you name it.

Black went to prison for his perfidy. And you’ll be learning more about Basnight and his slush funds later this week in Carolina Journal Online.

Failing to mention the corruption that the power of unlimited terms enables is a telling omission.

Rick Henderson / Editor-in-chief, Carolina Journal

Rick Henderson became editor-in-chief of Carolina Journal in August 2016 after being managing editor of Carolina Journal since April 2009. Before that, he had worked more than...