Stuart Watson, investigative reporter from WCNC in Charlotte, has asked many of the right questions over the years to uncover some of the corruption in Charlotte local government. Evidence has been in the public for years, but scant media coverage (apologies to Stuart Watson) and complete denial by current and past administrations has allowed corruption to fester. This story is worth viewing if you haven't already seen it:
click to see STUART WATSON'S REPORT HERE
Judge Tyawdi Hands, Patrick Cannon and Trenna Cannon
Photo Credit: Nancy Pierce, Charlotte BizJournals
See District Judge Tyawdi Hands (pictured on left) swearing Cannon (center) in as Mayor of Charlotte for his very short-lived time in office before arrest on Federal Charges.
The Charlotte Observer did write an editorial about "problems" with Cannon's firm, E-Z Parking, not paying fair taxes. They wrote it after the election.
Then there's the issue that Cannon faced tax liens of $193,000 with the Internal Revenue Service and "side-stepped" that information to voters.
THIS April 6, 2014 Charlotte Observer Article includes the following information about Cannon's history and refers to the recent affidavit for his federal charges:
The federal affidavit that outlines the bribery charges against Cannon also portrays him as a man untroubled with telling a lie.
The affidavit says an undercover agent pretending to be a business developer met with Cannon last June and Cannon agreed to lie to foreign investors on a trip to Las Vegas.
Cannon came up with an elaborate ruse, the affidavit alleged: He would claim he knew the undercover agents for years and had used his official position to help overcome challenges with city permits and zoning.
“Well, if it’s made up, I mean then it really wouldn’t matter,” Cannon is quoted as saying.
Questions about Cannon’s truthfulness came up as far back as 1999, during his first campaign for City Council.
In answers on an Observer questionnaire, Cannon wrote that he had never been charged with a crime. In fact, he was convicted in 1988 of failing to support an out-of-wedlock daughter. At the time, Cannon said he was so young he didn’t realize it was a criminal conviction, and didn’t know he owed child support.
During the campaign, he also listed his home as his mother’s house in the Pine Valley neighborhood. But neighbors said he didn’t live there and questioned whether he was eligible to represent the district. His license and voter registration listed the house, and nothing ever came of the complaints.
In 2005, Cannon withdrew from public life saying he needed more time with his family. In 2009, he decided to run for council again. Then the Observer discovered a series of IRS liens involving his parking company that totaled $193,553 between 2003 and 2008.
Even when the Observer questioned him, he wasn’t clear he had lied: “It’s unfortunate that people were misled about the truth rather than the facts during that particular time. But it was what it was, and we’ve moved on.”
That retreat from politics in 2005 also was one of the strangest moments in Cannon’s career.
Democrats thought Cannon was their best chance in years of unseating Pat McCrory. Then three months into the campaign, Cannon abruptly quit the race and also said he wouldn’t seek re-election to City Council.
He cited the deaths of an aunt and his wife’s grandmother, saying he wanted to focus on his family.
But was that the full truth? A salacious rumor had circulated for months about Cannon’s personal life.
In a farewell speech in December, Cannon acknowledged the gossip:
“I want to thank my family for their sacrifice that they’ve made, being both victims and praised for the 12 years I’ve been in office. My wife, especially, for enduring, oh in some cases, good times, but in some cases, bad times, particularly from one that dealt with the spread of vicious rumors that weren’t true, to assassinate my character on a matter that in my family’s mind as well as my own, is an abomination unto God, that also sent a few media outlets into wild-goose chases.”
He told the Observer the rumor was “an absolute lie.”
“If you do believe he had this pattern of dishonesty, which I do, after you get by with it for so long you just feel immune,” said a high-ranking city figure who worked with Cannon for more than 20 years.
The press is supposed to be part of keeping our officials honest. But how many people even heard the allegations of dishonesty and tax fraud before Cannon was elected? There was barely a mention in local news.
Before the FBI finishes, there are likely to be more locals sweating out investigations. For the good of our City, let's hope they don't stop short.