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Fund raiser reveals Jim Black's continued ties to Duke Mansion

North Carolina State House Speaker Jim Black is at it again, and so are his financial backers.

Despite an ever expanding list of ethically shady scandals and legally murky moves attributed to Black, despite a grand jury that seems to be investigating and in some cases indicting everyone associated with him, Charlotte's big money people once again flocked to his side for a fund raiser.

That fund raiser, held June 29 at the Duke Mansion, was -- not surprisingly -- a bit ethically sketchy itself.

Last year, it was discovered that Black and two other legislators had put aside multi-million dollar "discretionary" funds that they used to dole out state money to organizations run by or affiliated with their friends and campaign supporters. In January, the Charlotte Observer reported that among those questionable "donations" was $200,000 to the Duke Mansion and another non-profit associated with it called the Lee Institute. This was after half a dozen of the mansion's board members gave Black $40,000 in recent years, the paper reported.

The public scrutiny apparently hasn't slowed down Black or the mansion board much. Among the list of sponsors for the June 29 fund raiser at the mansion were Cyndee Patterson, president of the Duke Mansion and the Lee Institute, and at least two board members.

Also on the list were some of the most prominent business and land development names in Charlotte, including Peter Pappas and Shelco's Ed Shelton.

Ted Arrington, a UNCC Political science professor, says he's not surprised that Charlotte's elite are still raising money for Black: "He's still a very powerful person," said Arrington. And as long as that's true, money will continue to flow his way.

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