Pro Tip: Don’t Solicit Bribes While You’re in Office

Charlotte’s mayor may be learning that lesson the hard way.

Mayor Patrick Cannon (R) at dinner with former Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis.
National Journal
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Emma Roller
March 26, 2014, 11:37 a.m.

Patrick Can­non — the may­or of Char­lotte, N.C. — is hav­ing a bad day.

Can­non was ar­res­ted Wed­nes­day on fed­er­al cor­rup­tion charges, after tak­ing bribes from FBI agents on five sep­ar­ate oc­ca­sions. Can­non has been in of­fice less than six months.

Ac­cord­ing to the crim­in­al com­plaint against Can­non, he ac­cep­ted “over $48,000 in cash, air­line tick­ets, a hotel room, and the use of a lux­ury apart­ment” in ex­change for polit­ic­al fa­vors. The FBI agents posed as real-es­tate de­velopers and in­vestors who wanted to bring their busi­ness to Char­lotte.

The FBI in­vest­ig­a­tion has been on­go­ing for the past four years — far longer than Can­non has been in the may­or’s of­fice. A loc­al po­lice of­ficer first tipped off the FBI to Can­non’s sus­pec­ted cor­rup­tion in 2010, when Can­non was still an at-large mem­ber on the Char­lotte City Coun­cil.

The most re­cent “bribe” took place in the may­or’s of­fice it­self on Feb. 21, when Can­non ac­cep­ted $20,000 in cash from fed­er­al agents. In ex­change for the cash, Can­non is ac­cused of giv­ing the “real-es­tate de­velopers” ac­cess to city of­fi­cials who deal with plan­ning, zon­ing, and per­mit­ting.

Demo­crat­ic may­ors like Can­non have been hav­ing a rough time. Last year, former San Diego May­or Bob Fil­ner was ous­ted from of­fice after a bar­rage of sexu­al-as­sault ac­cus­a­tions. My former col­league Dav­id Wei­gel makes a smart point — lately, loc­al Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates such as Can­non and Fil­ner have fought hard-won cam­paigns, only to lose their of­fice over stu­pid mis­takes.

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