When Ruffin Poole was twenty-five years old and fresh out of law school he went to work for Mike Easley; he’s thirty-seven now and indicted for 51 counts of everything from extortion to racketeering and could go to prison for 85 years.
What went wrong – for a small town boy from Kinston? For twelve years Poole watched Mike Easley taking free trips, enjoying free perks and making real estate deals with supporters who wanted something in return from state government – and before long Poole started aping his mentor.
Easley took free trips.
So did Poole. Six trips to Costa Rica.
Easley got a $130,000 discount on a beachfront lot at mogul Lanny Wilson’s Cannonsgate development.
Poole invested $100,000 in Cannonsgate – and made a $30,000 profit in four months.
Easley took free golf outings.
So did Poole.
Poole got a free trip to New Orleans for a bachelor’s party, a free engagement party, a free beach weekend at a Figure Eight Island resort and free liquor for his wedding reception – he watched Easley, served Easley and copied Easley and now Poole’s indicted. So what does his old mentor say?
Translation: ‘I know nothing but Ruffin, while you’re talking to the prosecutors, remember I’m still your friend.’
Mike Easley may know nothing or he may know quite a lot but either way Mike Easley made his own unique contribution to Ruffin Poole’s downfall. Our children learn the most from us not by what we tell them or teach them but what they see us do. It is how we live and act day to day and not our words that permeates their lives.
Ruffin Poole was twenty-five – he was a young man from a small town in an intoxicating political maze and he should have known better but a different mentor might also have led to a happier outcome.