Good grief

Republican candidates Debra Goldman and Chris Malone: What were they thinking?

October 22, 2012 

If it were a soap opera, well, the name possibilities would be almost endless: “The Middle-Aged and the Restless” perhaps, or “All My Conservatives” or “As the Stomach Turns.”

The News & Observer reported Sunday and Monday on Cary police reports in which Debra Goldman of Cary, the Republican candidate for state auditor in the Nov. 6 election, had named Chris Malone of Wake Forest, Republican candidate for a state House seat, as a possible suspect in the theft of $130,000 in jewelry, cash and coins from her home in 2010.

The reports were given to the paper last week by an unknown source. The picture that emerges, especially with regard to Goldman, who seeks a prominent and important statewide post, is of someone who lacks the character and judgment the public should expect from such an officeholder.

The jewelry and cash that were reported stolen were in a “ratty pink backpack,” Goldman told police, and the coins were in a suitcase. Malone was questioned but not pursued as a suspect, and the case was closed without an arrest.

Both Goldman and Malone are members of the Wake County school board. The burglary allegations have cast an even brighter light on an alleged romance between the pair, who both are married although Goldman is estranged from her husband. Ron Margiotta, former school board chairman and Republican ally of the two when the GOP ruled the board, told The N&O that “it seemed to be common knowledge” that the two were having a relationship.

Goldman seems to deny a romantic relationship. Malone told police they had a physical relationship that was “very heated.” Mercy. If those two aren’t blushing, the rest of us are.

Malone, in his legislative campaign against Democrat Lori Millberg of Wendell, will answer to the voters of his district. Those voters certainly couldn’t be blamed for questioning his fitness for higher office on grounds of improper personal conduct.

The situation is even more serious with Goldman. Already, she won the GOP nomination for auditor with virtually no significant professional qualifications. Her opponent, Democratic incumbent Beth Wood, is a CPA who has done a good job during her first term uncovering waste in state government.

Because the auditor’s office is in effect a teacher grading the papers of other state agencies, character counts more than ever. The auditor has to be, and has to be seen by the public as, a straight shooter and someone who can attend to the public’s business without a swarm of needless personal distractions.

Goldman behavior here is curious indeed. This “ratty pink backpack” story with the cash and the jewelry inevitably raises questions about her judgment.

She told police, The N&O reported, that she kept so much cash around because after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, she “found it difficult” to get money from her bank to pay her bills. Frankly, it’s a bizarre story that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Voters ultimately will make their own judgment on Election Day, but they really should not have to wait. The state Republican Party could show gumption by officially withdrawing support for both Goldman and Malone in their campaigns. That would make a positive statement on the party’s recognition of the importance of personal integrity in candidates.

Taking a stand like that would be preferable to just advising people to stay tuned.

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