November 2010 elections, Not the end, End of beginning, Winston Churchill
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”…Winston Churchill
I greatly admire Winston Churchill. His words, his actions preceding and during World War II were the glue that saved England and the world. His words still ring true.
We must change congress this November 2010. That, as Churchill stated, is not the end, but perhaps the end of beginning. Once we change congress we must forever remain vigilant and clean up the US Justice Dept., courts and state and local government. This is an ongoing duty.
Here is an example from my home state of NC. I received the following in an email this morning.
“The following is a condensed timeline created by NCGOP staff from Exhibit 1 of the SBOE report on gubernatorial candidates released June 25. This version focuses on the Perdue Campaign Committee. It is not intended to be a verbatim recreation of the SBOE timeline. It includes excerpts from the BOE timeline, but also includes content that is wholly the work of the NCGOP, not the SBOE. However, it is accurate in its description of events included in the SBOE timeline.”
“Bev Perdue and the Perdue Campaign lied about reasons for non-disclosure of flights. On October 15, the NCGOP conducted a press conference outlining our suspicions that, like Mr. Easley, Gov. Perdue and her campaign had utilized private and corporate aircraft in violation of NC law by not disclosing properly or reimbursing properly the flights.
Subsequently, on two different dates, the Perdue campaign acknowledged a total of 41 flights it had failed to disclose. According to the Governor and her campaign staff, this long pattern of non compliance and non disclosure was the result of “computer software glitch.”
We now know this was a lie.
On page 6 of the Board of Elections report on campaign flights, there begins a lengthy discussion of $28,000 in corporate flights paid for by New Bern lawyer and good friend of the Governor, Buzzy Stubbs. This discussion consumes many paragraphs and several pages of the report.
John Wallace, the Perdue committee’s lawyer, who performed a similar function for Mike Easley, and therefore should have plenty of experience in these matters, initially explained “that flights were not disclosed and/or properly paid because the campaign was unaware that Mr. Stubbs was paying for flights.”
But according to what Mr. Stubbs told Kim Strach and Chairman Leake, he had on many occasions told the campaign that he was paying for the flights and inquired about how his payments for the flights had been handled, because he was aware that he had already given the maximum amount allowed by law to the Perdue campaign. Mr. Stubbs specifically identified Peter Reichard and John Wallace as individuals with whom he had discussed his concern about proper accounting for his payments. Mr. Stubbs stated that he had been told of a variety of ways the travel payments could be handled and he often was not comfortable with the information he was being provided.
Finally, on October 23, 2008, Mr. Stubbs sent a letter to the Perdue committee with copies to Wallace and Reichard.
In the letter, Mr. Stubbs states that he has personally reimbursed his law firm in the amount of $28,498.04 for “payment in kind in the form of airplane transportation for Bev Perdue.” He included a copy of his personal check to the law firm in that amount.
Despite this very tangible evidence from a donor of over $28,000 in flights, Gov. Perdue and her campaign failed to disclose the flights as required by law in their 48 hour reports. Nor did they disclose these flights in their 2008 year end report, filed over three months after they received Mr. Stubbs letter on October 23.
No, Gov. Perdue and her committee didn’t acknowledge the flights at all until their 2009 mid-year semi-annual report in July 2009. And only after the Easley investigation indicated to them they had better get busy.
It is pretty clear that, were it not for the ramifications of the Easley hearings, Gov. Perdue and her campaign would never have disclosed or paid for the flights. Keep in mind that the Stubbs flights represent only half of the flights that were ultimately disclosed.
In addition to the bogus excuse about the mysterious “computer software glitch” and Mr. Wallace laughably disingenuous claim that the campaign was unaware that Mr. Stubbs was paying for the flights, the Perdue committee has offered various other explanations as to why the flights were not disclosed.
My personal favorite, expressed by Mr. Reichard was that “the campaign had no process in place to track and disclose information regarding flights.” Not only does this fly in the face of Mr. Stubbs many conversations with Reichard and Wallace, it also does not align with documentation provided by the Perdue committee.
A quote from the report on page 5: “based on the documentation…completed.”
What we have here is the Gov. Perdue campaign first knowingly and willfully failing to disclose contributions as required by law, and then engaging in lies in an attempt to cover up.
Now might be an appropriate time to remind you of some public utterances from our Governor while all this was going on.
“In the 21st century we must conduct the business of government in ways that bring transparency and accountability to the people… I have set high expectations for myself and for everyone who works for North Carolina. We will be open, ethical, and put the public’s interest first.” March 9, 2009 State of the State Speech
“I’m the Governor who has thrown open the windows of the state government. I believe in hanging it out there to share. I don’t try to hide anything.” December 14, 2009
“I am really sick of all this, I’ve been very, very driven by the need for transparency and ethics in government…. I myself did an audit of my campaign. I paid people money to audit my campaign. I want to be sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed. I’ve been doing that relentlessly for a year.” February 18, 2010
“I’m the governor for 15 months who’s done anything possible to throw open the windows of state government, to have full transparency, to focus on ethics and how people set government straight,” April 20, 2010
That brings me to the 2nd revelation and major conclusion.
That Gary Bartlett, Chairman Leake, and John Wallace colluded in an attempt to derail, distract, and obstruct the investigation by SBOE into the financial irregularities and illegalities of the Perdue for Gov. Campaign.
I now refer to the timeline that is an addendum to the SBOE report.
It documents that we first filed a complaint on October 15, 2009, asking the SBOE to investigate the Perdue Committee.
According to the timeline developed by SBOE staff, there is no mention of taking any action on the complaint until almost 3 months later, on January 12.
It is not until March 23, according to the timeline, before Bartlett authorizes Kim Strach to interview the first witness that same day, after waiting over 5 months to begin the investigation. Bartlett tells Strach that the board wants a resolution to the matter quickly so the interview needs to be wrapped up quickly.
By contrast, again according to the timeline, Mr. Bartlett received a letter from NC Democrat party Executive Director Andrew Whalen on February 15 requesting all correspondence between candidates Smith and Graham and SBOE office and any rules on advisory opinions on the subject.
The next day, Feb 16, Bartlett advises Strach to draft a letter for Whalen and compile all responsive documents. The letter is completed and the documents collected that same day.
The next day, two days after Whalen’s request, Bartlett directs Strach to hand-deliver letter and documents to Andrew Whalen at NCDP headquarters. It is delivered that day.
That same day, and only because I asked for a meeting with Bartlett, I received a one paragraph letter acknowledging an investigation of the Perdue campaign is underway, four months after we filed a complaint.
Later, on Feb 23, Whalen filed a complaint regarding Republican candidates. Bartlett and Strach meet the same day to discuss. It took three months before our complaint was even discussed at the SBOE.
As weeks go by, on repeated occasions, Chairman Leake and Mr. Bartlett direct Strach not to personally follow-up with campaign staff, but to restrict her contact to letter drafted by Mr. Bartlett.
Then, unbelievably, as detailed in several places in the timeline, Strach is told by both Bartlett and Leake that John Wallace and Zach Ambrose, Perdue COS as Lt. Governor, her campaign manager for Gov, and her COS as Governor, will determine who Strach will be allowed to interview.
It is unheard of for a law enforcement agency to allow attorneys with clients under investigation, or as in Mr. Ambrose’s case, targets of the investigation, to determine which witnesses will be allowed to testify. This is collusion and obstruction of justice.
Leake takes over the investigation on or about April 1, when Strach becomes aware of a notebook in John Wallace’s possession that has detailed information regarding flights that Perdue took.
Strach makes repeated attempts to obtain the notebook from Wallace. As before, with flight information at his disposal (see page 4 of the report, first two paragraphs) Wallace delays, and finally offers the assertion that the notebook is protected by “attorney-client privilege.”
Weeks go by and Strach has still not been granted access to the notebook and Bartlett is aware of this.
Then on April 27, Strach advises Bartlett that she will be in Wilmington the following day to deliver the Rusty Carter report to the New Hanover Assistant DA, Tom Old.
April 28 – Bartlett sends two SBOE staffers (McClean, Wright) who have had no involvement in the investigation henceforth to interview Wallace while Strach is out of town.
Strach finds out about this while she is in Wilmington and contacts Bartlett to make sure he tells McClean and Wright to copy the entire contents of the notebook. Bartlett tells Strach that Wallace will not allow that.
With the discovery of the notebook, Leake inserts himself into the investigation, apparently in collusion with John Wallace. Leake begins to schedule interviews, some of which Strach is excluded from. He and Bartlett prevent her from interview Wallace and Ambrose. Leake sits in on interviews with Strach and in some instances limited the length and breadth of the interviews.
This is highly inappropriate behavior and fraught with conflict. This is like a judge sitting in on witness depositions in a case he will be called on to judge impartially.
It is apparent that Bartlett, Leake and Wallace, acted, often consulting with each other on several occasions, to derail the investigation away from issues and witnesses they considered dangerous to Gov. Perdue and her committee.
And Mr. Bartletts’ conclusion in his memo the Board that there is no evidence that there is no intent of wrongdoing is an embarrassment to the people of North Carolina.
Accordingly, we call today for Executive Director Bartlett and Chairman Leake to resign their positions immediately. It would be the first honorable thing they’ve done in this matter. Failing that, Gov. Perdue should remove Chairman Leake, appoint a replacement, and ask the Board to immediately begin a search for a new Executive Director.
Because any of this is unlikely to happen, by letter today, we are asking Wake County District Attorney to launch an investigation into obstruction of justice at the NC BOE, particularly the actions of Mr. Bartlett and Chairman Leake.
Furthermore, we intend to press forward with our public records request. We want all documents, correspondence, email, records of phone conversations and drafts of reports leading up to the one released on Friday. We specifically want to see if Mr. Bartlett or Chairman Leake edited the request and the timeline submitted by the Kim Strach before releasing it on Friday. We will press on until the people of North Carolina get the answers they deserve. “