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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Kevin Geddings' Just Desserts

Kevin Geddings was largely responsible for taking my belief in the political process and slowly cutting off its air supply. He was the red-haired, big-eyed political consultant and one-time Chief of Staff to former South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges. Geddings' phone calls came at odd hours. His voice always started with a friendly tone, but quickly went the other way. He didn't like me and I certainly didn't like him.

At the time of Hodges' run for second term, I was a pest--a reporter on a mission to point out that 40-50% of what Geddings and Hodges said was a lie. While my mission was broader than that (I was actually pointing out lies and half-truths across the political spectrum), Geddings didn't see it that way. He saw himself as a politico who could both topple giants and turn nobodies into kings. His success made him millions. His shakedown skills were the stuff of a Carl Hiaasen novel. Hell, Geddings was portrait of half the people Hiassen writes about. And he didn't much like me.

In the end, I thought that the process (and my small part in it) seemed to win out. Geddings' man got sent back into private life and Geddings ability to slay giants was no longer the stuff of legend. I won a big national award and subsequently gave up on it all (due largely to a lack of dedication by my employer's senior management...and, well, yeah, money). Geddings took off to neighboring North Carolina to see if he could repeat his success.

What went unreported during most of Geddings' time here was that, beyond making millions in the political consulting business, he was also peddling influence and access like a kind veggie burrito at a Dead Show. It's only recently been revealed that he was once charging people in line for government contracts $30,000 for a dinner date with Governor Hodges. Apparently, Geddings had that kind of money dropped into a little shell corp he ran and subsequently paid out to...well, him and his wife. [For more, check out John Monk's excellent piece in Sunday's The State]

What it now appears was that Geddings may have been the king of the shakedown, but he was woefully inept at figuring out how many times he could shear a sheep. He went to the well too many times with a company called Scientific Games (they are the people who print up many of those scratch-off lottery tickets you see in convenience stores). Apparently the people at SG finally got tired to of the Geddings shakedown and gave him up. Last October, a North Carolina jury convicted Geddings of fraud. By this point, Geddings had worked his way back up to a seat on the North Carolina lottery commission.

Monday, a federal judge in North Carolina will tell Geddings whether he will go to federal prison for his crimes in the Tarheel state. While I hate to see any family lose their breadwinner and father figure to prison, I'm not going to shed a tear if Geddings ends up spending some time in the pen. His face is the one I see when I think of the day I figured out my vote doesn't really count.

Kevin Geddings (photo from The State)

Take care, Kevin. And thanks for the memories.

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Blogger BG said...

Why is it always pasty white guys? Can't they use some of this kickback cash to take a week in Aruba and get some sunshine?

I'm shocked this prosecution wasn't timed by the DOJ to coincide with an election.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Otis said...

Oh, it WAS. The actual conviction was in October 2006. Sentencing, however, is tomorrow.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't hate the player, hate the GAME. They wouldn't sell it at Wal-Mart if it weren't legal....would they?-FB

12:02 PM  
Blogger rj said...

it's always delightful to see assholes get theirs.

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be careful not to gloat about the misfortune of others.


10:18 PM  

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
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