RALEIGH D. McQueen Campbell III, who resigned from the N.C. State University Board of Trustees in disgrace, has found a second act at the university and is again rubbing shoulders with prominent NCSU leaders, this time as an aerial chauffeur for the universitys top coaches.
When he was last in the public eye, the Raleigh real estate broker was testifying at a 2009 state Board of Elections hearing into alleged campaign law violations by former Gov. Mike Easley. In a plea arrangement, Easley was convicted of a felony tied to violating six state campaign finance laws. The violations were all related to a $1,600 helicopter flight Campbell provided him.
Now Campbell, an aviation enthusiast who has bought and sold dozens of planes and helicopters, is using flights to spend time with NCSU coaches and is trading the service as in-kind gifts for his membership in the universitys booster club. A plane owned by the Campbell family has been used for ferrying basketball coach Mark Gottfried on five flights so far, beginning last year, and football coach Tom OBrien once in 2010, according to a tally supplied by NCSU.
Campbell said in an emailed statement he hadnt been the pilot on every occasion, and that the donated flights were something his family began before he got involved. The flights, he wrote, were an expression of the Campbells long-standing support of the university and NCSU athletics.
We love NC State and love to fly, he wrote. When asked to help we always try to do so when we are available. These flights are only a small fraction of our support to NC State and the Wolfpack Club.
Campbells notoriety may make the flights with NCSU coaches seem odd, but there is nothing illegal about them, and there has been no hint of impropriety.
Campbell resigned as chairman of the NCSU Board of Trustees in 2009 amid questions about how Easleys wife, Mary, got a high-paying job at NCSU. He initially said that he hadnt played a role in her hiring, but emails released by the university showed that he had.
The scandal also cost Chancellor James Oblinger and Provost Larry Nielsen their jobs. They stepped down and took other positions at the university. All three had said that the governors office had not played a role in creating Mary Easleys job. The emails showed, though, that Campbell had worked with Gov. Easley, Oblinger and Nielsen to create the job.
Campbell was a close associate of Easley, who appointed him to the NCSU board. He provided a host of flights to Easley for campaign and personal trips, and also twice made flights for speakers at an NCSU speakers series that Mary Easley created.
Staff writer J. Andrew Curliss contributed to this story