Mayor Cannon Resigns After Corruption Arrest

Mark Washburn et al., Charlotte Observer, March 26, 2014

Patrick Cannon, who rose from public housing to become mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, was arrested Wednesday by the FBI and accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes–including $20,000 in cash delivered in a briefcase last month to the mayor’s office.

Cannon, a 49-year-old Democrat who took office only four months ago, was scheduled to show up at a luxury apartment in SouthPark for yet another payoff from what he thought were businessmen needing his influence in city matters, the affidavit says.

But after arriving, Cannon learned who they really were, a source confirmed: undercover FBI agents who’d been recording their meetings over the past three years, long before he launched a campaign for mayor in 2013.

Cannon resigned as mayor Wednesday night, capping an extraordinary day that included allegations of an illicit trip to Las Vegas and payoff negotiations at the Capital Grille–the same uptown steakhouse that figured in the region’s last major political scandal. It was there that former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black of Matthews, also a Democrat, took bribes from a group of chiropractors seeking help with legislation.

Cannon was charged with theft and bribery, accused of taking cash payoffs at least five times. {snip}

{snip}

If convicted on all charges, Cannon faces up to 50 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

Long rise to power

Cannon was born in Charlotte and often referred to overcoming hardship. He was 5 when his father was found shot to death outside a vacant westside school. He was raised by his mother, who worked on a truck assembly line in south Charlotte. They lived in public housing.

Through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, he met future mayor and governor Pat McCrory, whose brother, Phil McCrory, was mentoring Cannon in the program. Pat McCrory helped teach Cannon to swim at age 13.

Cannon and McCrory talked for about an hour Wednesday, right before Cannon went to his appointment with the agents. They talked about the ongoing airport commission saga, said McCrory, a Republican who helped Cannon’s star rise in Charlotte politics. Cannon was the longest-serving elected official in Charlotte, having joined the City Council in 1993. (He was out of office from 2005 to 2009.)

“He was very close to me and my family,” McCrory said in Raleigh. “I’m just extremely disappointed and angry.”

Focus turns to Cannon

According to U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, a federal corruption investigation began in 2010 aimed at other Charlotte targets, but Cannon, then a City Council member and mayor pro tem, became a primary subject of the probe in 2011.

FBI agents began an “American Hustle”-type operation against Cannon, beginning with a meeting with an undercover agent passing himself off as business manager for a venture capital company based in Chicago.

According to a detailed affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Eric Davis:

The agent met Cannon in November 2010, saying he and his investors wanted to open a nightclub in Charlotte.

Ultimately, the agent chose a property in uptown that had parking problems and required zoning changes. In subsequent meetings, Cannon described his relationship and influence over certain city departments and employees, including the zoning board, according to the affidavit.

On Dec. 12, 2012, Cannon met an undercover agent at Capital Grille on North Tryon Street. Cannon asked the agent if he’d be interested in investing in a business Cannon planned to start called HERS, which would sell a feminine hygiene product nationally, the affidavit says. There was no evidence in the affidavit whether HERS exists.

The agent agreed to give Cannon a $12,500 “zero-percent return on investment” loan in return for his assistance in getting approval for the zoning needed for the nightclub.

{snip}

Cash on the table

On Jan. 17, 2013, agents say they met Cannon at a SouthPark apartment rented by agents for $2,100 a month. It was outfitted with secret recording equipment.

That day, the undercover agent gave Cannon the $12,500 in cash by putting it on a coffee table in front of him. Cannon, according to the affidavit, looked nervously toward a window and covered the cash with a folder.

After the agent shut the blinds, Cannon put the bills to his ear, then fanned them.

The next day, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted in Louisiana on bribery and money laundering charges. After the news broke, Cannon called the undercover agent and tried to characterize his acceptance of the money as a business investment unrelated to his public office, the affidavit says.

In laying out his philosophy as a public official, Cannon told the agent that he would have helped him even without the $12,500. “I’m not one of those Chicago- or Detroit-type folk. . . . That’s not how I flow.”

In an ironic aside during that same meeting, Cannon said that he looked good “in an orange necktie, but not in an orange suit,” the affidavit says.

Starting mayoral campaign

In 2013, Cannon’s political ascendency began to run parallel to the feds’ sting, which had been running more than two years.

When Cannon announced his candidacy for mayor May 21, he invited an undercover agent to attend, the affidavit says.

That month, the City Council approved a streetcar line to west Charlotte. Weeks later, a second undercover agent approached Cannon and said his company was interested in investing along its path. He told Cannon he needed his help persuading potential investors, and he’d fly Cannon to Las Vegas to do it.

Las Vegas: Lies for cash

As part of the Las Vegas trip with the agent, Cannon agreed to create “the false impression with the investors” that Cannon had had a long relationship with the undercover agents, the affidavit says.

In June, during discussions before the trip, Cannon raised the question of how he would be compensated for his role. When the agent replied, “I want to take care of you on this,” Cannon allegedly suggested a contribution to his mayoral campaign.

But the agent refused to pay Cannon before they took the trip. Cannon, according to the affidavit, continued to press for the money up front.

In the end, the agent flew Cannon and his wife to Las Vegas on July 1 and paid for a hotel room. He also says he gave Cannon $1,000 in cash at the hotel.

During the subsequent meeting, four FBI agents posing as businessmen promised to invest up to $25 million each for commercial property along the streetcar line.

Again, the agent reported Cannon boasted of his ability and willingness to make things happen. “Being around for 20 years has helped me a little bit, I think. I’ve gone through probably four police chiefs, five city managers, three mayors, something like that.”

Asked by one of the investors how long and often Cannon could assist with the project, Cannon replied: “As long as I’m elected.”

A second Vegas payoff

Afterward, the second undercover agent had a private meeting with Cannon in Las Vegas. The affidavit says they reached Cannon’s wife, Trenna, by speakerphone, and she personally thanked the agent for the $1,000 from the day before.

After the call, the agent said he paid Cannon another $5,000 in cash for his presentation to the investors. Cannon tucked the envelope containing the bills in the breast pocket of his suit.

{snip}

After returning to Charlotte, Cannon met with an undercover agent in the SouthPark apartment rented by the FBI. There, agents say, they gave Cannon an extra $10,000 for his work in Las Vegas.

Cannon wanted access to the apartment himself. He asked for keys at least six times. An unidentified campaign aide also texted an undercover agent on behalf of Cannon for the key.

When Cannon finally got his own his key, he told the agent excitedly, “Aw, man!”

Payoff in February

On Feb. 21 this year, an undercover agent brought one of the phony Las Vegas investors to Cannon’s office in the Government Center. During that meeting, the affidavit says, Cannon received a leather Fossil briefcase containing $20,000 in cash. Then Cannon asked for substantially more.

“I told Trenna she has a point,” Cannon told the agents.

“She has what?” the agent responded.

“A point, 1 percent,” the mayor replied.

That meant Cannon was asking for a 1 percent payoff from the potential $125 million project, or $1.25 million in all, according to the affidavit.

Then the mayor and the agent talked about the best way to get the $20,000 out of the office.

“I just got to be conscious about that kind of stuff here,” Cannon allegedly said.

[Editor’s Note: Readers may recall Patrick Cannon from his involvement in the cancellation of the 2011 American Renaissance conference when he was acting as mayor pro tempore.]

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • MekongDelta69

    Another corrupt black politico bites the dust.

    How many does that make now?

    • Pro_Whitey

      They got him to resign before conviction. Now that’s a sea change!

      • Katherine McChesney

        What is a ‘sea change”?

        • Pro_Whitey

          It’s damn good jargon, that’s what it is!

          sea change

          NOUN

          1.

          a striking change, as in appearance, often for the better.

          2.

          any major transformation or alteration.

          3.

          a transformation brought about by the sea.

      • Black Swan

        They want him gone and his crime swept under the rug before the upcoming midterm elections. Although in the black community, politicians as criminals is something on which to run an entire campaign.

    • How many does that make? Including the ones that haven’t been caught yet, its ALL of them.

    • model1911

      Not enough.

    • Paleoconn

      Can anybody name an honest black politician. It’s amazing how there are great black intellectuals and elites like Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, but their community doesn’t elect these types to represent them; they only go for the crooks and race hustlers.

  • JackKrak

    How long until the DOJ calls off all political corruption investigations because of the “disparate impact” on blacks?

    • DNA Explains It All

      Not long, I have already read about how the man be targeting black “leaders” to entrap them. Could any of this actually be because of their inherent criminal tendencies? OH NO, couldn’t possibly be THAT.

  • Cannon won’t be in orange very long. Federal inmates wear khaki.

    • You should offer your services to Hollywood as a consultant. I enjoy (maybe not the right word–am interested in) your knowledge of prison life. You’re smart and Hollywood types could trust you. Maybe we should write a book together.

      • So CAL Snowman

        I would buy that book

      • baldowl

        Don’t forget me, although I was only a NC state, uh, guest.
        A white man can learn a lot in prison. You wouldn’t believe some of the things we’ve seen.

      • The issue shoes in the feds are basically navy “low-quarters” with steel toes, for work-safety. I managed to get myself issued a new pair just before my release, and I deliberately did not ask my mother to send me any release clothing, so I still have those shoes. I had to put arch-supports in them, but those shoes last and last.

  • Luca

    I like this one better: California state senator Leland Yee, Democrat from the Bay Area, big gun-control advocate busted for gun running. Does the hypocrisy get any better? Lots of news coverage on this one about the Asian gang connection too.

    • What seems to the naked eye to be political hypocrisy is often a political weapon being wielded.

      • Luca

        Not when undercover FBI wire taps, videos and affidavits are submitted into evidence. Then it is just pure criminal hypocrisy. I only wish that Senators Boxer and Feinstein were his co-conspirators.

        • Black Swan

          They have protection and immunity at very high levels.

  • IstvanIN

    Why did he resign? In NJ mayors can stay in office and collect a paycheck until the bars on their cell closes. Ask the mayor of Trenton.

    • Oil Can Harry

      And in our nation’s capital the corrupt pol is immediately re-elected mayor as soon as he makes parole.

  • Tom Mixx

    I’m amused…

  • My goodness, but Eric Holder is going to have to step in and stop this targeting of blacks. It’s an obvious attempt to intimidate our beloved Africanus-Americanus citizens from participating in the political process. If this isn’t stopped, why soon slavery will be legalized again. Remember the Holder legal philosophy: Blacks–innocent until proven guilty and still innocent after that.

    • mrcan

      That sounds like racism…. Blacks are in fact above Crime!

      • DNA Explains It All

        Rather we will just declare crime to be below them, either way THEY are above the law. Just need the law to be dragged down to a reachable level, like test scores.

      • Jesse_from_Sweden

        They best way to reach equality is of course to raise the limit of evidence required to convict blacks until the number of convicted black criminals equal the number of convicted white criminals, in correlation to their total number of the population.

        Never mind that crime rates are different, it’s outcome that matters.

  • Sick of it

    We couldn’t get our crooked black mayor recalled, but said mayor has since been arrested for – GASP! – theft. They just can’t help themselves.

  • Sick of it

    We’ve had one? The irony is that it would have been possible but generally only back when blacks were kept out of office. You know, old school types.

  • Frank_DeScushin

    Most blacks do not see the high rate of black politicians getting busted for corruption as a sign that black politicians are in fact more corrupt. Instead, they see it as a sign of white racism and “da man keepin’ a brotha down.” In their minds, all politicians take bribes, embezzle, and illegally wield their power; but black politicians get arrested because whites want to maintain their power.

  • dd121

    I’d like to see NBC do w White Paper on the systemic corruption of the negro race. I know how much the networks love the truth.

    • It wouldn’t be much of a problem. A quick synopsis of governments in sub-Saharan Africa is all it would take.

      • Jesse_from_Sweden

        Hard to find good facts and statistics from Africa.
        It’s far easier to just look at black-run cities in USA compared to white-run cities.

  • So CAL Snowman

    When this story broke on CNN, there was no picture and no mention of Cannon’s political affiliation. Right away I knew he was a black democrat. They always post a picture and political affiliation if it’s a White republican male that did something wrong.

    • Quite right. I remember Randy “Duke” Cunningham was all over the news. The leftist MSM were tickled pink that a famous US navy jet fighter ace with a Navy Cross, two Silver Stars and a Purple Heart was nailed for corruption in congress.

    • dcc2379

      CNN thought: Too bad Patrick, his given slave name, isn’t Victorian white and Republican. Even if Christie didn’t cause a bridge dispute, even thought it wouldn’t take him years to read a few paltry emails like it would the IRS (imagine if Nixon told the Senate it would take years to listen to the tapes about Watergate), this is a waysisest sto’ee if I’ve ever heard one. After all, being poor and black is more important than being honest and white. Why I do declare!

  • TheAntidote

    This story reminds me of a scenario from a short story by Flannery O’Connor. A family of Polish refugees from communism had gotten management jobs on a dairy farm in the deep South. The father of the family had discovered some Negro field hand stealing chickens from the coop. Outraged, he had marched the Negro with the chickens to a meeting with the Southern lady who owned the dairy operation.
    The Southern lady was utterly confused. Didn’t the Pole know that it was normal and natural for a Negro to steal, and that the important thing was to make sure they never had the opportunity to steal too much?
    Petty theft is acceptable and expected in Africa. Here in America they absolutely CANNOT keep their hands out of the cash register.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    A major political scandal unraveled in Charlotte Wednesday as Patrick Cannon resigned as Charlotte’s mayor after federal investigators arrested him on bribery and corruption charges.

    A day after his stunning arrest on corruption charges, State Sen. Leland Yee withdrew from the Secretary of State’s race.

    Yee is accused of consorting with notorious felons, accepting money for his cash-strapped political campaigns in exchange for favors and promising undercover FBI agents he could deliver connections to international gun runners.

    I plan to re-read the articles again to relish, delight in and enjoy the information.

    Beyond excellent!!

  • Anon

    What difference whatsoever does this make? The very last thing the black people who voted for this guy care about is that he is corrupt. They could wake up tomorrow and all be lead off into chains, whipped and told to get to work as slaves because Cannon took bribes to allow it….and they would still idolize him. To their mind, the more he can get away with, the higher status he is.
    No one who could possibly replace him, would be any different. And arresting him solves none of the following problems.
    1. Blacks are not interested or even capable of doing anything positive with the vote. So they should not be allowed to.
    2. No black, elected, is in any way a good thing, for anyone, of any race….only various levels of bad. So they should not be allowed to run for office.
    3. No money invested in black neighborhoods ever goes toward anything positive…..only empowering corruption. Any real solution involves keeping white peoples’ money out of the hands of blacks.

    • “Any real solution involves keeping white peoples’ money out of the hands of blacks.”
      –Anon

      That is exactly why I regard the GOP’s endorsement of Big Government as a criminally insane betrayal of us.

  • phorning

    Your comment made me curious, according the articles I found, the mayor of Charlotte is a part time position. Even including his expense allowances, he made less than 50k a year. It sounded like there was some discussion of changing it to a full time job in the past but they haven’t yet.

  • me

    If you vote for a Negro, you’re going to get corruption. Period. This includes the Clintons, by the way….

  • Pelagian

    Bad day for minority politicians. Google: California state senator Leland Yee arrested in FBI sweep

  • Black Swan

    I wonder how much longer it’ll be before criminal politicians will be able to get away with outright theft, misappropriation of funds, bribery and outright corruption, without anyone calling them out on their crimes, like brutal dictators in Africa or communist bosses in China.

    • dcc2379

      You got to be kidding me. It is already happening. What do you think the ulterior motives of Obamacare and the stimulus were? For example, Obamacare spent $800 million to a Michelle O. flunky to build the website. The contract for the website was no bid, so Republicans could not get records on it. Want more examples? Move to Illinois.

  • Black Swan

    What’s that old expression about power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

    They say there is no greater aphrodisiac than political power.

  • Jesse_from_Sweden

    Well, he wanted the 1 percent. 1,25 million dollars, that’s a nice spot of cash.

    But you also have to keep in mind that these sums are what they can prove….
    It’s doubtful that this was the only extra money he was making on the side in various deals, it’s just the only extra money that they have solid evidence on….

  • Shocking but not surprising.

  • Joe Sewell

    Something strange is going on here as of late. Race baiting in the controlled media appears to have stopped and the Chosen’s favorite pets are taking a hit. Hmmm… The local negroes and antis won’t be happy about this at all. I recall the local (and not so local) antis publicly celebrating about running Jared Taylor out of town….

    • Aditya Vivek Barot

      My theory: pre-midterm elections house-cleaning to impress that last remaining straight white males that vote Democrat.

      About three weeks before said elections, a rapid series of exceedingly well-publicized arrests of Republican officials.

  • Marc Zuckurburg

    Politicians can be bought on the cheap.

    Take it from me, your favorite friendly neighborhood weasel.

  • model1911

    ” How do you throw away millions of dollars in future earnings for 50k of dirty cash today?” Like most african-Americans, low impulse control and limited future time orientation.

  • Puggg

    Patrick Cannon?

    Oh, I thought you meant Nick Cannon.

    • PvtCharlieSlate

      Tremendous improvement.
      Too bad it’s only temporary and superficial.

    • Some Guy

      Black face = Completely racist
      White face = Brilliant and funny

      http://thestir.cafemom.com/entertainment/170190/nick_cannons_whiteface_stunt_isnt

      “Black people have been discriminated against throughout American history. White people have been in a position of power relative to other ethnic groups throughout American history. There is a power imbalance that still exists between the two to a certain degree.”

  • Some Guy

    My CNN news app on my phone a had a picture of the White Governor of NC and not this black Mayor. Anyone not familiar with the case would have natural assumed the mayor was White. Accident…I think not!

    • Pat McCrory was once Mayor of Charlotte. But very likely not a corrupt one.

  • mobilebay

    Scariest group I’ve seen since those “Walking Dead” commercials!