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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Patrick Cannon scandal taints Queen City

Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon and I attended the same high school. I remember he came to school almost every day in pressed jeans, a blazer and tie. He was constantly on the National Honor Society and a member of almost every club you could imagine. He was handsome, charismatic, ambitious, driven.

Cannon rose to success after overcoming obstacles, such as the death of his father at a young age, being raised in subsidized housing by his single mother and poverty.

Cannon fought hard to become the Queen City’s third black mayor, triumphing over his opponent by only a short lead. Most of Cannon’s former classmates, including me, supported and rallied for him. He was elected mayor of Charlotte on Nov. 5, 2013. Then, Dan Clodfelter was crowned mayor on April 7, 2014. Wait. What?

Cannon was arrested after he was secretly recorded by the FBI accepting over $48,000 in bribes and perks in exchange for pulling strings with the powers that be in planning and zoning. He resigned amid a firestorm of federal corruption charges, the target of an FBI sting that began in 2010. He served a whopping five months in office, and now faces 50 years in prison.

Let’s face it. The mayor was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. How could a person so smart do something so dumb?

“There are probably a number of reasons, all of which most likely have something to do with a lack of character, greed or lust for power,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Robert Duncan in an email interview.

A wise man said that money is the root of all evil. Since Cannon grew up poor, naturally he wanted things he couldn’t have as a child. As a city councilman, he touted the causes of the downtrodden.

But a rags-to-riches fairytale was not in his cards. Cannon’s love of money got in the way.

“Something I would like to see is federally funded elections at all levels,” said Duncan. “It is the corruptive power of money in political campaigns that is slowly turning our democracy into a plutocracy. If money could be taken out of the equation, our elected leaders would truly represent the voters and not some wealthy special interest.”

It would have been helpful if Charlotteans were made aware of Cannon’s atrocious activities before his bid for mayor. According to the FBI’s affidavit, the probe unearthed significant evidence against Cannon well before the November 2013 mayoral election.

“The investigation on Patrick Cannon should have been cleared up before he took office as mayor,” said junior Joshua Weil, president of Guilford College Democrats in an email interview. “It could have saved the city much embarrassment and taxpayer dollars.”

Thanks to the FBI dragging out its investigation for three years, Charlotte will be remembered as the city whose mayor was arrested. But hey, misery loves company, right?

Cannon is not alone in his misdeeds. He is a member of the same elite club as Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Governor Mike Easley, Rep. Terry Spicer, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Gov. Rod Blagojevich. All these politicians were convicted on federal corruption charges involving bribery and abuse of power.

Why do so many politicians fall to corruption? Stupidity.

Over and over, politicians take bribes and abuse their power thinking they are going to be ‘The One’ who gets away with it.


The moral of the story is: there are no short cuts to success. You can’t make an A on the test if you don’t study. If you want to succeed, work hard and be honest. And remember, we, the American people, are depending on you.

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