GOP leaders feared scrutiny of Goldman, opponent says

tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comOctober 24, 2012 

  • VALIDATING THE POLICE REPORT Cary police are confirming the authenticity of a 2010 police report leaked to the media that details allegations Wake County school board member Debra Goldman made against fellow board member Chris Malone. In a written statement Tuesday, Police Chief Pat Bazemore said the narrative report provided to The News & Observer last week by an unknown source “does appear to be a copy of our police report.” In the report, Goldman named Malone as a suspect in a 2010 burglary reported at her home and both board members gave conflicting statements about whether they had a romantic relationship. Bazemore said she has launched an investigation “to determine how the media could have gained access to information that is not public record.” Under state law, police are not obligated to release such narratives, which contain the notes of investigators, but are not prohibited from doing so. Bazemore said the report received by The N&O was printed Oct. 28, 2011 by a Cary police detective in response to a request from Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby. Bazemore said the report was faxed to Wllloughby and the copy made by the detective has remained in her locked file cabinet since then. "I remain confident that the officers, detectives, supervisors, and Records staff involved in the investigation of this matter have not released this report to anyone that does not have the authority to receive it," Bazemore said. Willoughby, who is out of the office at a conference, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

State Republican Party leaders were aware of a reported relationship between Wake County school board members Debra Goldman and Chris Malone, yet they still discouraged other potential GOP candidates from opposing Goldman in her run for state auditor, a former opponent said Tuesday.

Party leaders were worried that Goldman’s character might emerge as an issue in a runoff that was possible because she won less than 40 percent of the vote in the five-person Republican primary race. Those leaders cleared her path to the nomination without a runoff, Greg Dority, a former Beaufort County GOP chairman who finished second to Goldman in the May 8 primary, said Tuesday. Dority, an executive in the security field, is a 1981 graduate of N.C. State who has run unsuccessfully for Congress three times in the last decade.

Goldman is running for the statewide office in the Nov. 6 general election. According to a Cary Police report from June 2010, Goldman reported a break-in at her home and subsequently implicated her board colleague Malone as a suspect. In interviews with Cary police, Goldman and Malone gave contrasting versions of their association. Malone said they had a “very heated” physical relationship, but Goldman said she rebuffed Malone’s desire for a romantic bond. Malone was cleared as a suspect in the reported burglary.

Wayne King, North Carolina GOP first vice chairman, said Tuesday he had no knowledge of the relationship before he saw news accounts of it.

“I never heard anything like this until this article that I read in your paper Sunday,” King said.

Goldman did not return calls Tuesday.

When he was considering entering the auditor’s race earlier this year, Dority said he was approached by Wake County residents who wanted to tell him about Goldman’s conduct so that he could use it against her in the primary. Dority declined to take that approach, but the idea arose again when he talked to out-of-state political consultants about whether to take part in a runoff.

“They told me quite frankly that, ‘For you to win this race, you are going to have to hit hard and attack her on the issue of character,’ and I didn’t feel comfortable with that kind of race,” Dority said Tuesday.

Dority said his conversations about whether to run were with people he described as “senior party elements, very wise, very experienced,” who acknowledged to him they knew about the reports involving Goldman and Malone. Dority declined to name the people he consulted.

“They laid it out that it could be a big problem for the entire ticket,” Dority said. “Without the proverbial documentation, it would be a difficult thing for me to substantiate the allegations.

“Without the documentation, they thought they could get through this.”

Backing off Goldman

Since the emergence of the police report, state party officials have distanced themselves from Goldman, leaving her off a campaign tour that’s designed to boost other statewide candidates. Pat McCrory, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, dodged a Charlotte broadcast reporter’s question Tuesday on whether he had cast a ballot for Goldman in early voting.

“I voted for my Republicans. That’s what I did,” McCrory told WBT reporter Chris Miller.

Asked if Goldman had been among them, McCrory replied, “Thank you.”

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the 2010 police report continued to shake up the political landscape. Common Sense Matters cited the questions about whether the two school board members had a sexual relationship in a robocall urging people to vote against Malone, the Republican candidate for the state House District 35 seat.

“With these kinds of distractions, it’s no wonder the schools screwed up student assignment plans and the bus schedule,” says the phone call. “Don’t reward Malone’s unprofessional behavior by sending him to the state legislature.“

Common Sense Matters is a liberal advocacy group that spent more than $100,000 last year to defeat Republican school board candidates in Wake County. This year, the group is targeting Republican candidates in several state legislative races.

In the May primary, Goldman finished with 34.4 percent of the vote, falling short of the 40 percent mark needed to avoid the runoff that Dority could have requested. Dority took second with 23.9 percent. Fern Shubert was third with 18.4 percent.

After Dority’s decision, he won plaudits from a party leader.

“I commend Greg for his decision not to seek a runoff after careful personal thought and consideration,” King said in a May 17 statement. “I applaud him for the manner in which he conducted his campaign. I look forward to working with him to help Debra Goldman and Pat McCrory win in November!”

Shubert, a CPA and former legislator, said party officials attempted to dissuade her from running for state auditor on the day she filed for the slot. She heard the news indirectly, but determined through a chain of contacts that it was King who wanted her to drop her bid for the state auditor’s post.

“He came to an event in Union County, and I went up and asked him what was up,” Shubert said Tuesday.

“He said, ‘We really really needed you to run for treasurer, you have all the qualifications’,” Shubert said.

Afterward, Shubert said, she wondered why a party official would suggest that she run for a specific office the day after filing closed for state offices. Judy Kidd, a precinct captain in Union County, was with Shubert at the event and confirmed her account Tuesday. Efforts to reach King about Shubert’s account were unsuccessful.

After she placed third in the primary, Shubert said, she agreed to endorse Dority at his request and after hearing his plans for the office.

“He sounded better to me than anything else I heard about out there,” Shubert said. “I have no doubt that Mr. Dority had every intention of running until someone got to him.”

Staff writers Anne Blythe and John Frank contributed to this report.

Goldsmith: 919-829-8929

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service