It's cheaper in Charlotte

Feds claim they bought the mayor's influence for only $48,500.

By Spencer Campbell

On March 26, the FBI arrested Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, charging him with accepting cash, airline tickets, a Las Vegas hotel room and access to a luxury apartment in exchange for his influence. Though the affidavit is an entertaining read, with dialogue you might expect in a script for American Hustle 2, it leaves plenty of questions unanswered. 

 Cannon, who resigned following his arrest, became the focus of the probe in 2011 after an undercover agent “interacting with certain businessmen in a related investigation” learned of potentially corrupt dealings by the then councilman and mayor pro tem. Does that mean other locals — in the public or private sectors — are suspected of corruption? The Charlotte Observer reported that in 2011 a man claiming to be a Cannon associate told owners of cab companies that $10,000 in cash would get them lucrative contracts at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Does business sometimes have to pay to play in the Queen City? And if so, what kind of wannabe world-class city has a mayor who can be bought for a measly $48,500?

 One thing seems certain: Cannon’s once-promising political career is over. After growing up in public housing, Cannon, 47, graduated from N.C. A&T University in Greensboro and became, at 26, the youngest person elected to Charlotte City Council and its longest-serving member when he was elected mayor last year. He also is CEO of Charlotte-based EZ-Parking Inc., which has management contracts with Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system and the Carolina Panthers.