The Wilmington TV station broadcast an eight-minute story featuring excerpts from an interview with "Jay," a 47-year-old man alleging that state Sen. R.C. Soles, D-Tabor City, sexually assaulted him when Jay was 13 years old.
The interview was conducted before Jay spoke with Carolina Journal's Don Carrington. CJ's story is here. In both stories, Jay said the sexual encounters continued, at Soles' insistence, for several months until Jay left Tabor City. Jay also said he decided to come forward now because he heard media reports that Soles, now age 74, had become increasingly violent with the young men (many of whom are current or former legal clients) he encountered.
Soles' lawyer, Raleigh attorney Joe Cheshire, told WWAY he believes in Soles and that he believes Jay sought to extort money from the senator. (Jay denied that motivation in both stories and has not publicly identified himself.) Cheshire also attributed the stories to "political enemies" of the senator.
After Hall speaks for about 20 minutes, Leake closes out the Easley hearings for today.
The board will go into closed session tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock to discuss matters relating to the criminal investigation. The public portion will convene at 9:45.
I'm outta here. Got a story to file. See you in the funny papers.
Hicks out, Hall in, 5:20 p.m.
Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, who filed the complaint with the SBOE, is now speaking.
“It’s ludicrous to think that a candidate involved in raising huge amounts of money and his staff would not want to know how they are staking up," Hall says of the governor's special account.
Holy cheese doodles, Batman! 5:10 p.m.
Hicks say that Easley told him to tell the board that he wants the board to refer the case to the district attorney for further investigation.
"Do I think there's enough evidence to justify a criminal case? Absolutely not," Hicks says. But Easley wants the case referred.
They're really going after Campbell here, looks like.
The case would go to Wake County DA Colon Willoughby.
Hicks punches Mac some more, 5:05 p.m.
Similar to his cross-examination of Campbell on Monday, Hicks is going after McQueen pretty good.
“It just didn’t happen. It would be a foolish thing for a man to do," Hicks says of Campbell's testimony that Easley asked him to submit a false invoice.
Easley didn’t get to his position “by doing foolish things.”
“He gets there by being very wise and careful about what he does," Hicks said.
Hicks says he wants the SBOE to refer the case to the district attorney and go after any charges they can find.
Hicks continues to throw Campbell under the bus, 5:00 p.m.
Hicks now speaking. He rails against Campbell again. Says McQueen sent a "false e-mail" to a news reporter saying that he had been paid for all of his flights.
Hicks says there are criminal aspects to this case -- not for Easley, but for Campbell.
Cooney makes closing remarks, 4:45 p.m.
"There is no evidence from the way in which the party operated, not a shred of evidence from the way things actually occurred, that there was any kind of a scheme or plan” of running money through the Dem party to the Easley campaign, Cooney says.
Nothing inappropriate, 4:35 p.m.
No evidence indicating that the Easley Committee engaged in any inappropriate fundraising activity, Wallace says.
A lawyer's 5 minutes, 4:30 p.m.
Wallace began his monologue on the cars and flights by saying he wouldn't talk more than 5 minutes.
It's been 1/2 hour and counting.
Airplane talk, 4:15 p.m.
Wallace says the airplane issue is more difficult because there aren't as many records.
He indicates that the first responsibility for the flight problems lied with McQueen Campbell, because he failed to report the flights to the treasurer of the committee.
“No one knew better what flying he did in connection with campaign events, and no one had more knowledge with respect tot hose flights, than McQueen Campbell," Wallace says.
Leake asks whether the committee is ultimately responsible for reporting the flights.
“I certainly would agree that the committee ultimately has the responsibility to report this to the board, and I would suggest to you that in that respect the Mike Easley Committee failed to live up to all of its obligation," Wallace says. "That being said, the treasurer has the responsibility to report to the best of his knowledge. What we’re all learning here is that more is required.”
Wallace defends car deal, 4:05 p.m.
Wallace, a lawyer for the Mike Easley Committee, argues that it has paid back the full amount owed for the Bleecker GMC SUV that was provided to Easley's campaign, and also paid fees to the SBOE.
“The committee recognizes its failure to address this situation” at the beginning, Wallace says.
“If the board feels like there is more that should have been done, we are receptive to the board’s guidance on that matter. From our perspective, I don’t know what more could have been done," he says.
Asbridge excused, 3:55 p.m.
Asbridge is excused. Leake then gives the various lawyers involved a chance to make their closing arguments.
“Gentlemen, at this point, we’re going to allow you to briefly tell us what you think about this cause,” Leake says, emphasizing the word "brief."
GOP candidates and planes, 3:45 p.m.
Attorney John Wallace now questioning Asbridge.
Asbridge, who is a forensic expert, says he was hired to research past news accounts of the campaigns for Patrick Ballantyne, Fred Smith, and Bill Graham, all Republican candidates for governor in 2008.
Photo Credit: Don Carrington
Asbridge says there is no evidence that Ballantyne paid for flights he took during his campaign, either with cash or in-kind.
Attempt here appears to be to say that GOP does stuff just like Easley did. Similar to Cooney's earlier suggestion that GOP funnels donations through the party for candidates, too.
Fred Smith bought a airplane for $2.5 for flights around the state, Asbridge says. He says that it appears Smith did not report those flights, but can’t prove they were for campaign purposes.
He found no evidence in newspaper accounts that Graham’s flights were reported, but he can’t prove they were for the campaign purposes, either.
SBOE hearings convene, Anthony Asbridge called to stand, 3:35 p.m.
Anthony Asbridge, a former special agent with the IRS, is now testifying.
He says he was asked by Cooney to provide forensic services. He reviewed public records from news accounts, financial reports filed with the SBOE, and also publicly available flight info available for airplanes.
Adjourns for lunch, 2:16 p.m.
So much for my prediction. The SBOE hearing just adjourned until 3:30 p.m. for a late lunch.
Looks like we might go tomorrow, too.
"It's highly unlikely that we will conclude our business today," Leake says.
Approaching the 5 hour mark, 2:15 p.m.
Falmlen is still testifying as we approach the 5-hour mark. He might outdo Easley.
Cooney back in the spotlight, 2:00 p.m.
Cooney is now asking questions again -- and yes, he's at his chart on the easel.
Cooney's premise is that Easley raised more money for the party than the party raised for Easley.
McQueen troubles, 1:55 p.m.
Easley’s lawyer, Tommy Hicks, attempts to further discredit McQueen by getting Falmlen to say that Campbell’s in-kind contribution documentation for the flights were not accurate.
Cooney and Falmlen, 1:40 p.m.
Cooney continues asking questions of Falmlen. You can tell they rehearsed this thoroughly.
Basic premise: N.C. Dems did nothing illegal or questionable.
Chart is back, 1:31 p.m.
Cooney just put up the chart he originally had on Monday -- the one that blocked the WRAL-TV pool camera. Deja vu.
Cooney goes after GOP, 1:30 p.m.
Cooney produces documents showing that the GOP contributed $80,000 to the Vinroot Campaign in 2000. He then points out that the Republican Party raised just over $80,000 from donors who had maxed out their contributions to Vinroot that year.
"Is there anything wrong with the Republican Party doing that?" Cooney asks.
"No, sir," Falmlen repleis.
"Is there anything wrong with the Democratic Party doing that?" Cooney asks.
"No, sir," Falmlen replies.
They're baaack, 1:25 p.m.
Cooney has the hattrick on the easel -- he just pulled it out for the third time during the hearings.
Cooney now asking questions, 1:20 p.m.
Cooeny is trying to establish that memo's line about raising "soft money" could have merely meant that the commitments were "soft" and not firm.
Brace yourself for Cooney's easel, or maybe easels plural, to soon return.
Hit the snooze button, 1:15 p.m.
SBOE member Robert Cordle now questioning Falmlen. More softballs.
Cordle's main line of questioning centers on coordinated campaign documents that N.C. Dems want to keep portions of secret.
Cordle indicates that both parties want to keep their strategies secret.
Not sure mode, 1:10 p.m.
Falmlen goes into "I don't know mode" on memos provided by Earls indicating that the Easley campaign relied on soft money funds from the N.C. Democratic Party.
'Double in-kinded,' 12:55 p.m.
Under questioning from Earls, Falmlen says the flights were "a bit of an anomaly" and that they were "double in-kinded."
Raising money, 12:50 p.m.
SBOE member Anita Earls now asking questions.
Earls asks whether any other candidate in the coordinated campaign had a “special code” like Easley did.
“No, but no one was raising this kind of money, at this level,” Falmlen says.
Funnel money, 12:45 p.m.
SBOE member Peaslee is asking Falmlen questions, suggesting that the “special account” was really used as a way to funnel money to Easley. Falmlen denies it.
Giving money back, 12:30 p.m.
Falmlen says the state party gave back around $24,000 earlier this year to ensure that their reporting for McQueen Campbell's flights was correct.
He also says that he wasn't aware of the N.C. Democratic Party arranging travel for Easley.
Benefits to Dems, 12:15 p.m.
SBOE member Bill Peaslee asks whether Falmlen believes that whatever benefits the Easley Committee also benefits the Democratic Party.
"Not everything, no," he replies.
Photo credit: Don Carrington
Jim Cooney, lawyer for the N.C. Dems.
Photo credit: Don Carrington
Falmlen continues his testimony.
Account controversy, 12:05 p.m.
Lots of conflict between Falmlen, Jim Cooney, lawyer for the N.C. Democrats, and SBOE member Winfree over whether there was an actual, physical account for the funds raised by Easley – a “special account” referred to earlier.
Falmlen says it was just a ledger, or a "source code," not an account. “These funds aren’t residing in a special place that says 'governor' on it,” Cooney says. “It’s an event code. It’s not a physical place where the money is going to reside.”
Falmlen says he never received “direction” from the Easley Committee, only “requests.”
Saying no to the governor, 12:00 p.m.
Falmlen says he doesn’t recall specific examples of telling Easley he wouldn’t spend the money raised by Easley the way the former governor wanted him to, but he’s “sure that he did.”
Funds for the coordinated campaign, 11:47 a.m.
Falmlen says that Easley raised around $2 million for the coordinated campaign during the 2000 and 2004 election cycles combined.
SBOE hearing comes back to order, 11:43 a.m.
SBOE members back from mulling documents.
Hearing still in recess, 11:25 a.m.
Photo credit: Don Carrington
Tommy Hicks, Easley's lawyer
Photo credit: Don Carrington
Chairman Larry Leake (right) and SBOE member Robert Cordle (left).
Board members continue to review documents.
One point of contention is whether the "plan" from the Democratic Party really contains confidential information.
Obviously, reporters want to see the whole thing.
Board recesses for 15 minutes, 10:50 a.m.
SBOE takes a bathroom break. Oh, and some SBOE members want to review documents, too, before proceeding.
Account was for fed candidates, 10:45 a.m.
Falmlen says he "reattributed" funds raised by Easley to a federal account that he reported to the Federal Elections Commission.
Targeted races, 10:35 a.m.
Leake asks whether Easley had any say in how the "special account" funds were spent.
Falmlen says Easley gave them "advice and council" about where to spend the money.
“We had numerous conversations about what the” legislative landscape was, and what the candidates’ monetary needs were to fulfill their budget for campaign operations, Falmlen says.
Decisions were made in a “very collaborative way,” but the final decision was made by the party, he says.
No other purpose, 10:30 a.m.
Falmlen testifies that in 2006, there was a "special account," which was a physical bank account, where funds that Easley raised went. Those funds were then used for legislative candidates.
The purpose, he says, was to assist in the election of Democratic legislators, and for no other purpose.
Governor's fund is back, 10:20 a.m.
Falmlen says they created a separate “event code or source code” to track funds raised by Easley for the coordinated campaign. This was also known as a “governor’s fund.”
Falmlen denies that the party ever funneled money to Easley in order to potentially bypass campaign finance limits.
Falmlen says he is “unequivocal” that Jay Reiff never said he would raise money for the party but they wanted 80 percent of it back.
Falmlen says he never received requests from Easley or his representatives to receive corporate funds or to raise monies if most of the funds went to back to the campaign's benefit.
Treated as a request, 10:10 a.m.
Falmlen says that he treated requests from Easley, the Democratic nominee for governor, as requests, not as commands.
"The party had a vested interest in ensuring that he was elected, but I would look at everything" and consider whether it was a good expenditure of resources, Falmlen says.
“There certainly were occasions when we said no" to Easley, he says.
Primary services, 10:00 a.m.
All of the participants in the coordinated campaign signed off on the plan, Falmlen said.
Photo credit: Don Carrington
He said the coordinated campaign was primarily related to get out the vote efforts.
“We do what can be the most benefit for the entire ticket, which would be get out the vote activities," he said
Leake asks whether the gubernatorial candidate is the one that people are really focused on.
“That’s correct,” Falmlen says.
Proprietary documents, 9:50 a.m.
Falmlen says that the Democratic Party did create a written plan for fundraising for the coordinated campaign. Falmlen agreed to produce the plan for the SBOE.
Leake says the party has some concerns about the proprietary nature of the plan, and a belief that portions of it should be kept for the eyes of the board only.
Leake said that they will review the plan today and ask Falmlen questions about it. He also said they would have to at some point determine which parts of it might be proprietary and which might not be.
Coordinated campaign questions, 9:45 a.m.
Leake immediate asks Falmlen about the Democratic Party's coordinated campaign.
Falmlen says it was an effort to get voters to vote a straight party ticket.
SBOE convenes, 9:40 a.m.
Scott Falmlen, state Democratic Party executive director between 1999 and 2005, is sworn in. He's supposed to be the only witness today.
More easel issues, 9:30 a.m.
Jim Cooney, lawyer for the N.C. Democratic Party, just said he plans to use two easels today.
Newt Gingrich--"one of the nation's leading conservative figures," possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate, and recent
convert to Catholicism--is endorsing a stimulus package supporting, ACORN
backed, Margaret Sanger Award winning pro choicer in the 23rd district of NY
just because she's a Republican. Now there's a man of principle.
A political odd couple, Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton, is on a education reform tour of the country and they visited BASIS high school in Tucson where I taught AP courses. BASIS is also featured in the new ed reform documentary "2 Million Minutes."
Gingrich said he agreed to help with the effort, impressed by
Obama's "bold" position on charter schools and his willingness to upset
the special-interest apple cart. "If we just have the courage to go do
something, we can get it done."
The visit coincided with last night's screening of a documentary
lauding BASIS for its rigorous approach to education. The charter
school, which has 650 students in Tucson and is working on opening a
branch in Oro Valley, has already been crowned as among America's best
high schools by Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.
Students are required to take at least six advanced-placement
exams, and pass at least one. They also must pass not only the course,
but an end-of-course exam in every subject to be able to progress to
the next grade. If they fail even one of the tests, they must repeat
the grade level.
After popping into classrooms, Gingrich said that not only was he
struck by the academic focus of the students, but that it was being
done without a lot of expensive gadgets in a fairly bare-bones
He railed against education colleges for hijacking schools and
placing the "how to teach" on a par with lesson content. As a charter
school, BASIS does not have to hire certified teachers, he said, noting
that the former head of Intel, who has a doctorate in physics, could
not teach in California schools.
He said the educational establishment has been fighting reform out
of "pure, naked self-interest. When they see a school like this,
How will Congressional efforts to overhaul health care, in bills that grow by 500 pages with each draft, effect state government?
Exploding Medicaid enrollment: John Hood last week called ObamaCare the Big Take because it would expand Medicaid rolls in the state by 44 percent or more.
Disappearing federal bailout money: The expansion of a program that is bankrupting states will more or less coincide with the end of federal money to bail states out from their current financial straits. So there is great concern about the effect it will have on the rest of state spending.
Losing choices: State employees who get insurance through the individual market may lose that option and be forced back into the state health plan, even obese smokers.
Hurting state employees and taxpayers: Since there is no effective way to control cost in any of the bills before Congress, costs will rise even faster for state employees and taxpayers.
Hurting state retirees:Then we can watch the unfunded liability for future retiree health benefits explode, too.
Hard to believe that the Berlin Wall fell twenty years ago on Nov. 9th. I was stationed there in the early 70s with the Army Security Agency and I have been back several times, post-Berlin Wall. Since I was in military intelligence, I could not go into the East Berlin. The Wall was an important landmark when traveling in the in West Berlin. I found that without the Wall for a landmark that I would get lost every time I visited the city.
Here is a USAToday article on Berlin that is worth reading. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech gets credit, but of course not a mention of Reagan's "Tear down this Wall" speech. The article and I both recommend the movie "The Lives of Others."
Voters will sometimes approve an income tax increase, as witnessed recently in Columbus, Ohio. As a true blue Wolverine, I think this may be indicative of the quality of education at THE Ohio State University. But, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman shared some lessons that governments in North Carolina could learn, especially those looking to raise taxes next Tuesday.
"The [$100+ million in budget] cuts we made in [fiscal] '09 did not include any public safety officers. We closed 11 recreation centers and we cut all functions of city government by significant amounts."
"You have to have total and complete transparency -- of your books, your finances."
"There must be a reform plan. ... determine what it is you can do better as a city, and then do it."
"[Y]ou have to take some cuts yourself. I cut my salary and the salary of everybody that I had control over. We had to show our citizens that this is the real deal."
Mayor Coleman also demonstrated one of the major flaws in the way some government officials think.
There is no way we could raise anywhere near close to the revenue we needed through cuts.
And this from a man who has reduced city spending without cutting funds for public safety - one of the first things on the chopping block for those less committed to good government.
I wasn’t bowled over, like some political observers evidently were, by Mike Easley’s testimony yesterday. In fact, as I wrote on CJO today, I thought that as the hours wore on, the former governor’s confident blarney began to fail him.
A good example of his poor performance was captured by Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Jordan Schrader:
Easley said he remembers what happened with the first of the two bills from Campbell. His version of events:
Campbell called after the 2004 campaign to complain the campaign wasn't
paying him on time for flights, so Easley suggested he bill the
campaign in advance, for a block of time in which he would fly Easley
in the future.
• Later, Campbell called to say the campaign had questioned the bill,
so Easley called his campaign treasurer's assistant, Rebecca McGhee,
and told her to pay the invoice.
“I told her, ‘Look, I know what this is. Get it paid,'” he said, “and I went back to my work.”
testified earlier that Easley told her to pay the bill even after she
told him the invoice was for flights that had already taken place and
that it wasn't backed up by documentation.
Easley said he was busy in 2005 trying to persuade the legislature to create a state lottery.
just know I was in the middle of working legislators to try to get that
vote. And I just thought, ‘You know, this is the last thing I need is
to be in the middle of this doggone invoice problem,'” he said.
The governor’s claim didn’t square with the facts, and then he made it worse with his pathetic “I’m too busy saving the children to pay attention to the law” routine. Any viewer exercising his critical thinking skills knows how to interpret that. Apparently, some pundits around town lack the critical distance necessary to figure all this out.