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Richard Moore is about to become the new “pay to play” poster boy in Raleigh’s campaign-finance scandal.

And he was fingered by no less than Forbes magazine, the capitalist tool.

Moore – who is North Carolina’s State Treasurer and a 2008 gubernatorial candidate – has raised over $700,000 from investment firms that handle the state’s pension fund, which he runs.

The Charlotte Observer says Moore has received campaign contributions from 42 of the 88 companies that have contracts with his office. 

The only surprise is that the other 46 haven’t given – at least, not yet.

Moore, of course, will insist there’s no quid pro quo.  He will say that 42 mostly out-of-state investment firms gave to him just because he will give North Carolina good government.

(I’m reminded of the old politician who was asked what his supporters would get if he won.  “Hell, they’ll get the jobs, the roads and the money.”  And what would his opponents get?  “They’ll get good government.”)

There are two other strategies Moore could use:

  • Leak to the media information about how his likely opponent, Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue, has funneled Health & Wellness Trust Fund money to some of her contributors.
  • Or return the money – and not take any more.

He probably won’t give back the money.  Because here is what Moore would say if he took a truth serum: “I have to take money from people who do business with my office because that’s the only way I can raise the money it costs to run for Governor.”

Which is precisely the problem.

The real scandal often is not what’s being done that’s illegal, but what’s being done that is perfectly legal.

And it’s perfectly legal in politics to raise money from people who want something from government – or do business with you.

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