Friday, November 14, 2008

Nifong’s Nov. ’06 election: a Duke role?

At Liestoppers Meeting there’s a very thought provoking post: “Who wanted Steve Monks?”

Attorney and then Durham County GOP chair Steve Monks, you’ll recall, was a write-in candidate in the November 2006 Durham District Attorney’s election won by the incumbent Mike Nifong who was subsequently disbarred, forced to resign his office, and jailed for one day for some of his actions related to the attempted frame-up for gang rape and other felonies of three obviously innocent Duke University students who were members of the school’s Men’s lacrosse team.

Durham County Commissioner Lewis Cheek was Nifong’s principal opponent. A Cheek victory would have forced NC’s Gov. Mike Easley to replace Nifong.

Monks was seen by most observers as doing nothing more than playing a “spoiler” role that would help elect Nifong.

The carefully organized “Who wanted Steve Monks?” post cites $7 thousand dollars in contributions given Monks campaign during a 2-day period by three people with very close and important ties to Duke. One of those was John McMahon, a former chair of Duke’s board of trustees, who died this past Oct. 30 at age 87. (Obituary here)

Seven thousand dollars is a lot of money in a Durham DA race, especially for a write-in candidate with no chance of winning.

The money was given at a time when Duke’s president, Richard Brodhead, and its board of trustees chair, Robert Steel, were principal enablers of the frame-up attempt Nifong began leading in March 2006.

The public portion of the Brodhead/Steel frame-up enablement began on March 25, 2006 when Brodhead released his first public statement following publication that morning of a Raleigh News & Observer story which, among other things, promulgated the deliberate falsehood that the members of Duke’s lacrosse team had not been cooperating with police.

Although Brodhead knew the Duke students had been extraordinarily cooperative with Durham Police, his statement made no mention of their cooperation. Instead, Duke’s president urged everyone to cooperate with police.

Neither Brodhead nor Steel has ever explained the decision to say nothing about the students’ cooperation; or why Brodhead’s statement was worded in a way that gave credence to what both men knew was a lie about the students’ refusal to cooperate.

From that first public statement right through the November ’06 election neither Duke leader said a single word critical of Nifong’s travesties that were so obvious by March 30, 2006 that the North Carolina State Bar, anticipating the filing of ethics complaints against Nifong, that day opened a file on the matter.

With Brodhead’s and Steel’s still unexplained enablement of the frame-up as background and with the large contributions to Monks’ coming in a 2-day period from a few people with close ties to Duke’s leadership, “Who wanted Steve Monks?” asks a reasonable question:
why did three people with very close ties to Duke University’s leadership make, over the course of two days, what were in terms of the amounts typically contributed to major DA candidates, extremely large contributions to a “spoiler” write-in candidate expected to take votes from Nifong’s principal opponent?

Mind you, the question is asked not rhetorically, but as a true interrogatory.

We don’t know the answer to the question. But it cries out for answering.

I encourage all of you who are following the Duke case who haven’t yet read “Who wanted Steve Monks?” and the comments in response to it to give them a read here.


Anonymous said...

I know Laney Funderburk. While I wish he hadn't supported Monks, I believe it was strictly one Durham Republican supporting another. In NO WAY, did Laney want Nifong in office. Cheeks was a detriment to that election as well even though I understood his decision to run but not serve.