"All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities," Frank Herbert once wrote. "It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible."
Herbert wasn't thinking about the power the Clay County auditor wields when he wrote his Dune series. But the weasel who currently occupies the position is making the science-fiction writer's point just the same.
After weeks of dodging NBC Action News' Russ Ptacek, William Norris, the 27-year-old auditor of Clay County, has acknowledged a prior felony conviction. Norris admitted to The Kansas City Star that he pleaded guilty in 2006 to a felony count of aggravated stalking in Grundy County, Missouri.
Norris says he received a suspended sentence and was placed on probation for five years. He told the Star's Glenn E. Rice that he requested and received an early release from probation.
The case is now sealed, but Norris faces the potential that he could be removed from office. State law says felony convictions disqualify individuals from holding elected office. Ptacek reported last night that the Clay County Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation. Ptacek's full piece on Norris is scheduled to be broadcast on Wednesday.
Norris' apparent inability to handle a breakup with a girlfriend when he was 20 isn't his only issue. Before the Republican primary last August, the Star cast doubt on Norris' claims that he was a graduate of William Jewell College and a CPA. (Turns out, he's neither.) Ptacek is reporting that Norris embellished his work record.
In wounded-animal mode, Norris has filed a restraining order against Ptacek, according to Tony's Kansas City.
More than 35,000 residents of Clay County voted for Norris last November. Every one of them should feel embarrassed today.