Publisher's Note: This article originally appeared in the Beaufort Observer.
Debra Goldman, Republican candidate for State Auditor, is under attack. It may or may not be deserved, but it is not the main issue. The main issue is that North Carolina is one of the most corrupt states in the nation, and more so at this point in our history than in much of the past. But the way the GOP leadership in this state has handled this, and other situations, calls into question whether they are the solution or a part of the problem.
In the interest of fair disclosure, we originally supported Greg Dority for State Auditor. After Dority unceremoniously quit the race, leaving Fern Shubert who would have otherwise been our first choice in a lurch, we ultimately picked Goldman, knowing about the rumors of her personal life, for one simple reason: We think Beth Wood has done an unacceptable job as State Auditor. She has been Auditor during much of the worst period of corruption in the state's history. That is still our position...but not all that needs to be said about it.
We suspect Goldman may as well hang it up. The News & Observer has made her a target for months and has finally come out with a "he said, she said" report that implies Goldman engaged in improper personal conduct with another Wake County School Board member. But expect more. We say she may as well hang it up, not simply because the N&O is after her or even what she may have done, but because if there is any hard and fast rule among the Republicans who consider themselves leaders in Raleigh it is: Don't get caught. Goldman has been caught. She's been kicked off the curb and the bus is barreling down.
From Brant Clifton in the Daily Haymaker
we hear that Greg Dority has piled on. Clifton reports that Dority now says that the reason (let us count them) he withdrew from the Auditor's race was because GOP leaders pressured him to do so, fearing that a run-off primary would bring the mud on Goldman to light. To be sure he does not really think we will believe this reason any more than the others he has offered.
If it were true and Dority actually did tell that story, he must be living in Wonderland where Democrats become Republicans by signing a piece of paper. To drop out of the race to ostensibly protect Goldman from being exposed is about as absurd as thinking Arthur Williams is a conservative Republican. Obviously if the GOP leadership feared Goldman's "mud" they would have seen to it that Dority not only remained in the race, but won it. Again, Greg is not credible.
We don't know why Greg betrayed those who supported him early on. We suspect the lure of an appointive post was coveted more than opposing Goldman. But at this point it does not matter why he dropped out after it was too late. It was a betrayal and the reasons he gave for doing so compound the betrayal. The simple fact of matter is that he torpedoed the best Republican for the position, Fern Shubert. As they say, the rest is history. And the excuses, which change every time its reported that Greg has explained his actions, don't matter any longer.
You might be wondering at this point why all of this about Greg Dority. The story here is supposed to be, if the N&O has its way, about Goldman. The answer is that all of these clowns illustrate what is a serious affliction in North Carolina politics: The lack of integrity. Plus, in this case, incompetence. And that is a lethal mix from which corruption is bound to ooze.
Here's what matters about Goldman. She is not the most qualified candidate the GOP could have put up for State Auditor. Among those willing to run, Shubert by far is the most qualified. But Beth Wood, the Democrat alternative to Goldman, is not qualified either. She has been behind the Auditor's desk while some of the most corrupt practices in state government have happened and she not only was not in the game of cleaning up state government, she was not even in the ballpark. All we need consider to form that conclusion is this: The Golden Leaf Foundation and the Department of Commerce. What we call "economic development" in this state is a cesspool of corruption and Wood has done nothing that we have seen to even attempt to clean the mess up. But the fatal flaw with Wood, in our opinion, is that she did not convince Bev Perdue to join with her in seeking an "honest services" law being adopted in North Carolina. But then Wood gave a pass to everything that went on under Perdue's table, especially Perdue's campaign finance scandal and Wood was not even in the game. Her excuse, no doubt, is also her indictment: She left it to an equally inept State Board of Elections.
For all of these reasons the Republican GOP bosses should have made finding a good person to run for State Auditor (as well as Attorney General) one of their highest priorities. They did not. Now we know what the default button on Hillsborough Street produces. Perhaps they were too busy meddling in local matters to pay attention to their sandbox.
Now Pat McCrory is quoted in the N&O as saying Beth Wood has "done a good job." We seriously doubt that was what he said. McCrory knows that the Democrat administrations of both Mike Easley and Perdue have been among the most corrupt in North Carolina history. He only needed to ask George Holding. He also knows Beth Wood was in office while this happened. Enough said.
So what about Goldman? She's roadkill. (Hope she doesn't report us to the police for that comment). Run over by the bus she was pushed under. But the fault there lies not with Goldman and her personal life. The fault lies with the Powers That Be in the State Republican Party whose job it is to recruit strong statewide candidates. They have failed in both the Auditor and Attorney General races.
We don't have any idea whether Debra Goldman and Chris Malone had an extra-marital affair. But if having an affair is an absolute disqualification to hold office (appointed or elected) in this state then a bunch of people need to hit the road. In both parties. No, the rule is not that it is unacceptable to commit adultery; the rule in North Carolina politics is to not get caught. And that's apparently also the rule in Beaufort County as well, at least in some circles.
What we do know is that Goldman's "events" took place long before state GOP leaders should have vetted her to run on the GOP statewide ticket. They should have known before the filing deadline that the rumors, and more, would come out. And for our money, they should have told both Goldman and Dority to take a hike and put their support behind Fern Shubert. What they got was what they saw, or should have seen, in both Goldman and Dority. They blew it. Pure and simple. Just as surely as they blew the AG race, and for that matter the Arthur Williams, Randy Ramsey etc. mess.
The Lord knows we need to get North Carolina out of the gutter and back on the high road. To do that will require people of integrity running for office and doing the right thing once they are elected or appointed. The solution comes not in stoning the sinners, but in establishing a system that prevents corruption in the first place. To accomplish that we not only need a good housecleaning on Hillsborough Street
, but on Jones Street as well. Perhaps it will come from Blount Street.
But regardless of where the cleaning comes from, throwing Debra Goldman under the bus will not suffice.