Tuesday, January 12, 2010


According to the grand jury presentment charging former House Majority Leader H. William DeWeese with misuse of public resources, DeWeese once told his top taxpayer-funded political operative Kevin Sidella: "Our saving grace is that everyone does it."

We've certainly seen enough of the evidence gathered (but not used) by Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett (and quite a bit Corbett would prefer that no one had gathered) to know DeWeese was spot-on when he said "everyone does it." But why did he think that would be his "saving grace?"

Because it usually takes a certain amount of moral authority to prosecute someone for wrongdoing. In some parts of the world, that whole thing about "casting the first stone" actually carries some weight.

But it's not just Corbett's colossal effrontery that caught DeWeese by surprise. It's the shocking passivity of the entire Harrisburg establishment. It's a simple question, that - unbelievably - no one has the initiative to ask: Why is it okay for Tom Corbett to use his taxpayer-funded staff for campaigning while prosecuting others for multiple felonies on accusations of the very same thing?

We know without a doubt that Corbett's taxpayer-funded staff made and received hundreds of phone calls - on their state phones, on state time - to and from Corbett's campaign staff. There's no legitimate explanation for these phone calls. Corbett may try to claim that his own phone calls to and from the state phones of state workers on his "personal" cell phone were legitimate state business - but then he's got to explain why he had his campaign pay for them. (At least, he would if anyone ever bothered to ask him) Good luck with that. But what state business can he claim his campaign staff were discussing with his state staff on state phones during state time?

He's charged others for employing campaign operatives in taxpayer-funded positions, even while his own top campaign aides - most notably his chief of staff/campaign manager - rest comfortably in taxpayer-funded positions.

He's spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on campaign ads disguised as "public service announcements."

And, of course, one could argue (we certainly would) that every dime of the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on investigating and prosecuting members of the legislature for the very same type of activity can be considered a campaign expense.

No, DeWeese never counted on the unprecidented level of hypocrisy Corbett has displayed throughout his legislative investigation. But no one ever counted on the disappointing level of apathy that has allowed him to get away with it.


Anonymous said...

Why is okay for Tom Corbett to use his taxpayer-funded staff for prosecuting others for multiple felonies on accusations when they admitted they have nothing to do, and broke work rule, laws. and ethic rules for doing thee very same thing and still on the payrolls for Corbett's whims?

Anonymous said...

How to stop Corbett from Lying and misusing his chosen members of the Grand Juries.

We only have until March to make sure Corbett and the Republicans will not win by these tactics of smear and hate and underhanded use of Government Resources to persecute democrats.

Unions need to unite and use Volunteers to follow all OAG employees, and stop them from Campaigning.

This is the Democratic and American Way to stop the Corrupt Corbett Garbage Train.

We need to run new candidates everywhere and on every level from local committees, to state committees to legislators to senators every local, statewide, and federal offices.

The True Reform movement must trudge in the deep depths of cold-water trenches to find names for our Ballots by March of this year.

The HDCC better quit hiding from Corbett and start taking on Corbett, and if it does not we know some in the HDCC are glad they moved up as others were taken out by Corbett.

If the HDCC does not organize and strike back in the next ten days, we know we have been betrayed.

Part-Time No Show Up Legislators are not up for this job, better look for better Leadership.

Anonymous said...

It's almost over now, guys...can you blog from D-block?

Anonymous said...

Corbett and his office are doing the people's work - putting criminals in jail. If he gets a boost in public opinion for doing his job, you only have yourself to blame for not doing yours.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Corbett and his office are doing the people's work - putting criminals in jail. If he gets a boost in public opinion for doing his job, you only have yourself to blame for not doing yours.

January 12, 2010 7:46 PM

REALLY??? Only case to go to trial was an AQUITTAL. The AGs office spent tens of thousands of dollars prosecuting a man that a jury very quickly determined was an innocent man.

Then the AGs achieved plea deals against several people who simply don't have the money for adequate defense attorneys, just to rack up some "convictions". And if these people are convincing testifying as they are told to, they won't be seeing any jail time.

And the OAG keeps cranking out arrests of their enemies while ignoring cases involving their friends, like Krastek's friend and former co-worker, Jane Orie.

Does this sound like a group of people who are "doing their jobs"??? He is only getting a boost in the polls for grandstanding and spending "the people's money" for his personal benefit.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
It's almost over now, guys...can you blog from D-block?
January 12, 2010 4:56 PM


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Corbett and his office are doing the people's work - putting criminals in jail. If he gets a boost in public opinion for doing his job, you only have yourself to blame for not doing yours.
January 12, 2010 7:46 PM

Well, This Is Not True, If It Was True Corbett Would Be Going After Corbett's Best Friend Bob Jubelirer And Mike Long Or Tony Krastek Best Friend Frank Dermody.

Along With The Republican Judges Just Sworn In After Having State Employees Working On Campaigns On State Time While Corbett Was Going After Criminal As You Pointed?

Corbett And Is Staff Will Be Held Accountable.

Anonymous said...

Wecht Is The Perfect Candidate To Take On Corbett And Make Corbett Resign And Be Investigated Before The November Election, Wecht Is Hearing What We Are Hearing, The Orie Investigation Is Directly Leading Back To Corbett's OAG.

Wecht may run for governorBy Carl Prine
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Famed forensic examiner Cyril H. Wecht emerged Tuesday as a potential spoiler in the crowded Democratic primary race for governor.

Dr. Wecht, 78, of Squirrel Hill said he hasn't formed an exploratory committee, raised money for the campaign or -- until last night -- told his wife Sigrid that he was thinking about seeking public office, but he realized the word of his potential bid would spread across the political spectrum.

"No decision has been made," said Wecht, a former Allegheny County commissioner and coroner. He said the word probably leaked when a close friend of his made a comment to a television reporter.

"I've had some discussions but it's still in the early stages," Wecht said. "Let's just say that it's in the realm of political discussion."

Allegheny County Republican Party Chairman Jim Roddey said a potential Wecht campaign could scuttle the bids of County Executive Dan Onorato and state Auditor General Jack Wagner -- two Pittsburgh Democrats vying against Philadelphia businessman Tom Knox, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel and Scranton Mayor Christopher Doherty for the party's nomination.

The primary is May 18, and party candidates must file to run by March 9. Independents have until Aug. 2.

"Isn't it great? I think it's great that he's doing it," said Roddey, 76. "It could make the Democratic race very lively, especially in Western Pennsylvania. You never know what to expect from Cyril. He loves the action and now he's a real spoiler.

"He might make it impossible for a Democratic candidate from Western Pennsylvania to run for office."

"A candidate needs three things -- name recognition, organization and money. Cyril Wecht starts already with a great deal of name recognition," said Allegheny County Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn. "In a field with six people, that's could mean a lot."

Roddey tilted against Wecht in 13 debates during their tough campaign for county executive in 1999, which Roddey won. After a federal grand jury indicted Wecht in January 2006 for alleged abuse of his political office, Roddey began to believe that the case was politically motivated.

In 2008, Wecht's jury deadlocked and Roddey joined prominent local politicians in asking then-U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan to drop the case. She did June 2, but not before Congress began probing the prosecution.

Roddey is rooting for Wecht, but said he won't support him in the general election because he's locally managing Attorney General Tom Corbett's GOP campaign for governor. Roddey said Wecht's candidacy might be designed to trip Onorato.

Onorato never signed the letter urging the feds to drop Wecht's controversial case, and crusaded to replace the elected row office of county coroner with the appointed post of medical examiner beginning in 2006. Wecht served as medical examiner for three weeks before resigning.

Onorato campaign spokesman Dan Fee shrugged off the scuttlebutt.

"Dan Onorato has been focused completely on his own campaign," said Fee, who successfully led departing Gov. Ed Rendell's races in 2002 and 2006. "Dan hasn't been running against any other candidate. He's running solely on his unrivaled record of achievement."

On Monday, Onorato of Brighton Heights announced he has amassed nearly $8.2 million for his campaign.

Neither Wagner nor his campaign in Harrisburg would comment on a potential Wecht candidacy. The Beechview native is slated to make a campaign stop Thursday in Bon Air.

Anonymous said...

Some sound call for 'resign-to-run' law in Pa.
By Tom Infield

Inquirer Staff Writer

When Tom Corbett announced the latest Bonusgate arrests last month, there was almost as much buzz in Harrisburg about how the investigation would affect his run for governor as how it would impact corruption under the Capitol dome.

There's no question that Corbett's powerful role as state attorney general has boosted his campaign to set down his bags next January in the executive mansion. But the Pittsburgh-area Republican is hardly the only candidate to benefit from holding one elective office while vying for another.

Six of the seven men hoping to succeed Gov. Rendell, who cannot run for a third term, are elected officials. All six - four Democrats and two Republicans - are capitalizing on the influence and attention that accompany their present jobs.

In Pennsylvania politics, that comes with the territory.

"This is such a normal part of the standard procedure that citizens don't even take note of it," said Berwood A. Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College.

But five states - Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas - bar certain elected officials from using their positions as stepping-stones. Those provisions are often called resign-to-run laws.

Some say it's time for Pennsylvania to have one.

"You can't claim you are working a full-time job while simultaneously running a full-time campaign," said Eric Epstein, founder of RockTheCapital.org, a Harrisburg citizens group that advocates political change.

The same week Corbett was announcing the third wave of arrests in his probe of the legislature, Democrat Jack Wagner was getting headlines in his capacity as the state's elected auditor general.

Among other things, Wagner wrote to the state's 500 school districts warning them to steer clear of certain risky investments of taxpayer money. Then he told the media.

In December 2008, Wagner issued only four news releases about his work as auditor general. Last month, after the onset of his campaign for governor, he put out 11 times that - 44.

In Pittsburgh, around the time of Corbett's Bonusgate news conference, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato was announcing a 2010 county budget and boasting that he was holding the line on property taxes.

For most of the year, Onorato said in a Dec. 17 interview, he had made weekly trips to Philadelphia to drum up money and support for his Democratic gubernatorial bid.

Other gubernatorial candidates are also well-positioned to use their current posts as billboards: Republican Sam Rohrer as a state representative from Berks County, Democrat Chris Doherty as mayor of Scranton, Democrat Joseph M. Hoeffel III as a Montgomery County commissioner.

Doherty was sworn in last Monday for a third term as Scranton's chief executive. On Tuesday, he posted a news account of the ceremony on his gubernatorial campaign Web site.

For politicians, there's an added advantage to holding one post while trying for another. If your campaign fails, you can go back to your job.

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach of Chester County planned not to seek reelection this year but to run for governor instead. When it became clear that he could not succeed, he dropped out of the governor's race on Thursday.

Within 24 hours, Gerlach, a Republican, announced that he would instead run again for his seat in Congress.


Anonymous said...


Among the current candidates for governor, only Democrat Tom Knox is not an elected official. Whatever attention he gets he'll have to earn on the campaign trail or buy with advertisements. As the only multimillionaire in the bunch, he can afford it. He spent $12 million on his unsuccessful 2007 bid for mayor of Philadelphia.

Knox is calling for adoption of a resign-to-run provision. "I believe that you should complete one job before moving on to the next," he said.

State Rep. Babette Josephs (D., Phila.) held a House hearing on Dec. 14 on a bill to make Pennsylvania's attorney general wait at least four years after leaving office before running for governor.

"This is such an important position," Josephs said in an interview. "I want people there who consider being attorney general their professional and personal destination, instead of a stepping-stone to someplace else."

Josephs stopped short of suggesting that lesser officeholders must quit before jumping in to a new race. "I'm not sure that other offices really carry that import," she said.

Her bill has gained little interest in Harrisburg. But Joe Sterns of the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank, said a constitutional convention should consider a broader resign-to-run law.

Sterns, who testified at Josephs' hearing, noted in an interview that the auditor general has significant powers, too.

"Jack Wagner can audit people and agendas," he said. "Obviously, there is the potential there to use the power of the audit to make a name for himself and advance his gubernatorial endeavors."

Jennie Bowser, an official of the National Conference of State Legislatures, testified at the Josephs hearing that, besides the five states with resign-to-run laws, nine have considered them since 2001.

One aim of such measures, she said, is to keep officeholders focused on their current jobs rather than diverted by other ambitions.

But states with resign-to-run laws have found they have a downside.

In Arizona, the resignation requirement has become fodder for what Bowser called political gamesmanship. Officeholders seeking to trade up are often accused of running a below-the-radar campaign long before openly announcing their candidacies.

Yost, of Franklin and Marshall, said it might not be a bad thing to permit current officials to seek higher office. It often makes for strong fields of candidates, he said.

He cited the 1994 governor's race: Republican Tom Ridge, an Erie congressman, defeated Democrat Mark Singel, the lieutenant governor. The field included the state attorney general, the treasurer, and two House leaders.

"The question is: Are the candidates' actions in the public interest?" Yost said. "But that is the debate all the time. We always look at politicians as self-interested."

Rendell, though he was Philadelphia's district attorney and mayor before he was governor, said he made a point of never running for one office while holding another.

"His feeling was that he made a commitment when he ran for election to serve a term," Gary Tuma, his spokesman, said. "And he felt he had to live up to that commitment to serve out the entire term."

Anonymous said...

When it comes to Tom Corbett, things need to be overdone.

After all, this is a guy who wants to be governor of the fifth-largest state in the nation.

And yet:

Tom Corbett has no governing experience.

Tom Corbett has misused the power of the prosecutor by picking and choosing who he charges and who gets a pass.

Tom Corbett spends all his time campaigning for governor, despite being paid by the taxpayers to be a full-time attorney general.

Tom Corbett has people in his state office taking campaign-related phone calls on state phones on state time.

Tom Corbett refuses to even investigate, much less prosecute, his

Republican supporters - like Orie - but he throws the book - hell, he throws the whole library - at Republicans who aren't his friends.

And the hits just keep on coming.

Those are just some of the reasons I have focused much of my time, my words and my blog space on Tom Corbett.

And until he answers the questions about his lack of experience, I will continue to ask them.

And as long as he continues to commit the same "crimes" he's charging others with, I will continue to criticize his hypocrisy.

And unless he stops campaigning full-time while being paid by the state to do a full-time job, I will continue to point out the double standard he sets for himself and others.

Because on most of these issues, the "real media" is pretty much giving Tom Corbett a free ride.

Seriously. Here is a guy with more skeletons in his closet than Count Dracula, and yet the guy can basically say or do what he wants with impunity.

OK, there is the occasional newspaper story - although the Pittsburgh media appears to have let the "Orie vs. the Intern" story languish without follow-up. (I communicated with the intern, by the way. She has a very compelling story to tell.)

And there was the wonderfully insightful report on WHTM-TV in Harrisburg about how Corbett's state workers keep calling Corbett's campaign workers on state phones on state time.

However, beyond that, it appears Corbett can say or do anything he wants and get away with it.

And he knows it.

And THAT is not fair to the people of Pennsylvania.

And the Pennsylvania media OUGHT to know that.

Corbett likes to say that he and his investigators will "go wherever the evidence leads them" to get to the truth.

Well Corbett should be under the same media scrutiny, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Because the people of Pennsylvania has suffered enough from corrupt, incompetent government.

They deserve the truth - wherever the evidence leads.

Anonymous said...

Todd Eachus's audacity to make these statements surrounding the Bonusgate investigation.

Eachus declined to say if he thinks state Attorney General Tom Corbett’s investigation into the House Democratic Caucus and the illegal award of bonuses to state workers for campaign work might affect his chances at re-election.

“It’s been a serious investigation, and the House Democratic Caucus has taken it seriously.

But I think you’ll note from my comments all year that I have not commented directly on this investigation.

And as difficult as that is, because I think people know me, I’m extremely direct, no one should be commenting on a grand jury investigation,” Eachus said.

“Because as (House) leader I’ve managed the entire investigation from Harrisburg, it’s not appropriate for me to comment,” he said.

No, Todd, you "managed" to get into the middle of the Bonusgate by an invitation to speak before the grand jury empanelled in the probe.

If memory serves us correct AG Tom Corbett is MANAGING the Bonusgate probe, not you.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, this editorial demonstrates that Todd Eachus should have more pride in the district he represents and decide not to run again rather than his bold move to announce he will run.

Obviously this do-nothing legislator has no other options but to keep sucking at the taxpayer tit as a means of earning a living.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but your shrill is showing. Time to start getting your affairs in order boys. I'm afraid you'll have to stay on topic once the trial begins. Might want to get a prescription for that ADD that seems to send you in every direction but your own. Is there a mirror in the house?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Excuse me, but your shrill is showing. Time to start getting your affairs in order boys. I'm afraid you'll have to stay on topic once the trial begins. Might want to get a prescription for that ADD that seems to send you in every direction but your own. Is there a mirror in the house?
January 13, 2010 9:14 AM"

Ther mirrors at the OAG are covered but not for long.

DAG Krastek as been removed from doing the Veon Trial because he could convince a Jury of the his manipulated Grand Jury findings, in the Ramaley Case.

Shortly, he will be brought up on Ethical Violations under the ABA and PBA.

The bigger problem is Krastek misdeeds before the Grand Jury are set in stone in the Presentments and the entire OAG Staffers are stuck with such errors, and will not achieve a conviction either.

Anonymous said...

People who confuse brains and luck can get in a whole lot of trouble.

Seeing through the Grand Jury Presentments is not the same as winning the Trial.

Anonymous said...

GOP: We'll take back the House:

GOP leaders have privately settled on a strategy to win back the House by putting the vast majority of their money and energy into attacking Democrats — and turning this election into a national referendum on the party in power.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, one of 10 leaders who attended a strategy session in Annapolis, Md., this week, said the party will attack Democrats relentlessly for the stimulus, health care and cap-and-trade bills.

Internally, Republicans call it the “80-20 strategy,” which, loosely interpreted, means spending 80 percent of the time whacking Democrats and the remainder talking up their own ideas.

Cantor said he is more confident than ever this gives Republicans an authentic chance of netting the 40 seats they need, especially after reviewing data provided by five GOP pollsters during the leadership retreat.

It showed what other public surveys reveal: widespread unease with Democratic policies.

Cantor conceded that the public is far from thrilled with the GOP — in fact, the party’s image is worse than the Democrats’ — but he argues that Republicans will benefit most from the public loathing of Washington.

“I don’t think that we Republicans can even remember what it feels like to have wind at our back,” Cantor said. “We can win back the majority.”

Is this really possible?

Independent analysts say it’s doubtful — but not implausible, for the very reasons Cantor cites.

More likely, Republicans will trim a big chunk of the majority, perhaps by two dozen or more, but fall short of the 40-seat pickup they’d need to reclaim the majority, those analysts say.

What follows is the Republicans’ case for how and why they can pull it off. (The accompanying story explains why Democrats think otherwise.)

Democrats are in the dumps maybe deeper than in 1994, where it was expected they would retain the majority but lost if it for 12 years.

Republicans aren’t as delusional as some think: They know they aren’t going to win a popularity contest with the public right now.

But Republicans don’t think they have to, as long as the public remains down on Democratic rule.

“It is in the mind-set of the public right now: Washington’s out of control,” Cantor said. “They do not have the economic security in their life yet.

The 10 months’ time [until the election] is not enough for people to regain their sense of security, no matter where this unemployment rate goes.”

A newly released CNN/Opinion Research poll shows a majority of Americans disapprove of the president’s handing of every domestic issue surveyed — health care policy, the economy, taxes, unemployment and the budget deficit, some by double-digit margins.

Cantor contends that President Barack Obama’s agenda is so unpopular that he offers this advice to the president: “Stay the course.”

A wave is building.

It’s not often that a party picks up 40 seats on the power of its ideas — at least not in contemporary elections.

The 1994 election, which saw the GOP nab 54 seats, was a reaction to President Bill Clinton and a Congress long dominated by Democrats.

The 2006 election, which saw Democrats win back control, was largely a rejection of Bush-era Republicans.

But signs of a similar wave — the size and power of which are unknowable — are out there. Poll after poll is showing Democratic incumbents are “upside-down” — more unpopular than they are popular.

“There is a sense that the growth in spending and what’s going on here is out of control,” Cantor said.

McCarthy laughed off the Democrats’ talking point that they won’t be taken by surprise; they know they’re in a toxic environment.

“You can be prepared for the tidal wave,” McCarthy said, “but it knocks me on my butt — it goes over the top of me. The
the GOP will offer a check and a balance on unfettered power.”

Anonymous said...

Nifong's Top Investigator Toppled

Posted: Jun 25, 2007

Durham, N.C. — Interim Durham County District Attorney Jim Hardin said Monday that investigator who handled the Duke University lacrosse sexual assault case would no longer be employed by the office.

Linwood Wilson was the chief investigator for former District Attorney Mike Nifong. He appears to be the first casualty after Nifong was disbarred and suspended from his office in the last week.

Wilson was hired as a part-time employee in December 2005 in the worthless checks division of the District Attorney's Office, and he was promoted to chief investigator last October. He was responsible for handling the office's investigation into the Duke lacrosse case, including interviewing the accuser, Crystal Mangum, last December, nine months after the sexual assault allegations were made.

Shortly after Wilson interviewed Mangum, rape charges were dismissed against the three lacrosse players who had been indicted in the case.

Officials with the District Attorney's Office said Wilson would "no longer be employed by the Durham DA's office" after Monday. Officials declined to comment further, and it was unclear whether he was fired or was asked to resign.

Separately, a Superior Court judge set a Thursday morning hearing in a civil complaint seeking to remove Nifong from office.

Although Nifong was suspended as Durham County district attorney last week, he remains on the job until his July 13 resignation takes effect.

Judge Orlando Hudson suspended Nifong with pay, saying his presence in the district attorney's office raised credibility questions in all prosecutions. Gov. Mike Easley appointed Hardin, Durham's former district attorney, as an interim replacement until someone could be named to fill the rest of Nifong's term.

At the Thursday hearing, Hudson will address issues raised by Durham resident Beth Brewer. She filed a civil complaint in February demanding that Nifong be removed from office.

Raleigh attorney Robert Zaytoun, who Hudson appointed as a special prosecutor in the case, will present evidence in an effort to prove that Nifong displayed willful misconduct in his handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

The North Carolina State Bar's Disciplinary Hearing Commission stripped Nifong of his ability to practice law on June 16. The three-member panel found that he had violated 27 of 32 ethics charges in the Duke case, including lying to the Bar and the court regarding the lack of DNA evidence against the three lacrosse players charged with attacking a stripper at a March 2006 team party.

Under State Bar rules, the disbarment isn't effective for 30 days.

Anonymous said...

Nifong Could Face 2nd Bar Complaint

Posted: Jan 15, 2007
Updated: Jan 16, 2007

Raleigh, N.C. — The former prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case could face another complaint from the North Carolina Bar.

Last month, the bar filed an ethics complaint against Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong for his pretrial comments regarding the case in which three lacrosse players face charges of kidnapping and sexual assault on an exotic dancer hired for an off-campus team party. The complaint says the district attorney's conduct was dishonest and deceitful.

The committee that handles complaints meets again Thursday. The bar won't confirm or deny whether it is looking into another complaint, but some observers say there is reason.

They say Nifong broke other professional conduct rules by failing to turn over exculpatory evidence, which works to a defendant's benefit rather than a prosecutor's, to defense attorneys in a timely manner.

The evidence in question is test results in which no DNA from any lacrosse player was found on the accuser.

After a December hearing, Nifong insisted he did nothing wrong.

"There was no attempt to hide anything," he said, adding that defense attorneys only had to ask for the evidence.

Nifong's pretrial hearing regarding last month's ethics complaint is next week. A bar trial is set for May.

Anonymous said...

Nifong: Grassroots Groups Trying to Run Him out of Office

Posted: Mar 2, 2007

Durham, N.C. — In a letter to the North Carolina State Bar, the embattled former prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case complains about how grassroots groups are trying to run him out of office.

The Dec. 28 letter is an attachment to Mike Nifong's written response filed Wednesday to an ethics complaint filed by the North Carolina State Bar.

In it, Nifong cites one group, Friends of Duke University -- a group of alumni, parents and supporters of the school -- that takes aim at how he handled the case and has also provided instructions on a blog about how to petition for the DA's removal.

"A well-connected and well-financed (but not, I would suggest, a well-intentioned) group of individuals … have taken it upon themselves to ensure that this case never reaches trial," Nifong writes in the eight-page letter to the State Bar's Grievance Committee.

The letter was dated the same day the Bar initially filed an ethics complaint against Nifong for allegedly breaking rules of professional conduct in the case against the three Duke lacrosse athletes accused of sexually assaulting an exotic dancer last March.

Nifong continues in the letter: "If this seems like paranoid delusion to you, perhaps you should check out Web sites... such as (Friends of Duke University)."

But the founding member of the group, University of Maryland law professor and Duke graduate Jason Trumpbour, offers no apologies.

"I think Mike Nifong has to realize he is the author of his own misfortune," Trumpbour said.

"Given his conduct, he doesn't deserve to be in office," he added. "I got involved in this case, because early on, it became clear to me that these defendants were not getting a fair trial."

WRAL was unable to reach Nifong for comment on Friday.

In its initial complaint, the State Bar cited more than 100 examples of public statements Nifong made to the media, including WRAL, since the case broke in March. In part, the Bar said those comments "have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused."

In January, the Bar amended the complaint, adding that Nifong allegedly withheld DNA evidence from defense attorneys -- exculpatory evidence that could negate a defendant's guilt.

In his written response this week, Nifong said he did not intentionally violate ethics rules and denied that he intentionally withheld evidence.

A series of public hearings will be held before the State Bar's Disciplinary Commission and will eventually lead to a public trial, possibly in June. If the Bar finds Nifong guilty, he could be disbarred.

Amid mounting scrutiny of his handling of the sexual assault case, Nifong recused himself from it in January and asked the North Carolina Attorney General's Office to appoint a special prosecutor.

The criminal trial for the defendants -- Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans -- was expected to go to trial this spring but has been delayed as new prosecutors review evidence in the case.

Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans were indicted last year on charges of first-degree rape, sexual assault and kidnapping, but Nifong dropped the rape charges in December because the accuser said she could not testify with certainty that she was raped.

All three suspects still face the two other charges. Throughout the investigation, they have maintained their innocence in the case

Anonymous said...

Disciplinary Committee Finds Nifong Broke Ethics Rules

Posted: Jun 16, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C. — Mike Nifong violated 27 of 32 rules of professional conduct during his prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, a disciplinary committee ruled Saturday. (Watch committee chairman F. Lane Williamson read the decision.)

The committee must now decide if the longtime prosecutor in Durham County, who has already pledged to resign his post as district attorney, should be stripped of his law license.

The North Carolina State Bar charged Nifong with making misleading statements misleading and inflammatory comments about the three athletes, lying to both the court and bar investigators, and withholding critical DNA test results from the players' defense attorneys.

The committee, after deliberating for a little more than an hour, unanimously agreed with the bar on almost every charge, including the most serious allegations -- that Nifong's actions involved "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation."

Nifong's attorneys and State Bar counsel spent the morning offering their closing statements to the three-member disciplinary committee.

Dudley Witt, said his client made "multiple, egregious mistakes" but none were made intentionally.

"It didn't click," Witt said as he tried to explain away one of his client's errors. "His mind is just his mind. That's the way it works. It just didn't click."

"How can you possibly explain that away?" said disciplinary committee chairman F. Lane Williamson, who repeatedly interrupted Witt as he discussed the DNA testing during his closing statement.

"It wasn't just one little oversight," Williamson said later. "This was conduct over an extended period in a very high-profile case."

The DNA tests found genetic material from several males in the underwear and body of the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum, but none from any lacrosse player. Aware of those results, Nifong still moved forward with the case and won indictments against David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty.

After the decision was read Saturday afternoon, Evans father, David Evans Sr., testified that the stress he and his family were put under for more than 13 months as the family waited not knowing what would happen while questioning why Nifong pressed ahead with the case.

"He placed his career and reputation on a woman he didn't interview and persisted with this case and then gave up the case because of a conflict of interest," Evans said. "And then the word of the Attorney General of North Carolina says they didn't do it."

Special prosecutors with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office later concluded the three players were "innocent" victims of a rogue prosecutor's "tragic rush to accuse."

Bar prosecutor Douglas Brocker told the disciplinary committee that as Nifong investigated the allegations a stripper was raped and beaten at a March 2006 party thrown by Duke's lacrosse team, he charged "forward toward condemnation and injustice," weaving a "web of deception that has continued up through this hearing."

"Mr. Nifong did not act as a minister of justice, but as a minister of injustice," Brocker said.

A tearful Nifong pledged Friday to resign as district attorney -- no matter the outcome of the ethics trial. If convicted, the committee could suspend Nifong's law license or take it away entirely.

Even if disbarred, Nifong's troubles aren't over -- the players' attorneys have pledged to seek criminal contempt charges next week in Durham from a judge who has already taken care to remind Nifong he has the authority to impose punishment.

Anonymous said...

"It has become increasingly apparent, during the course of this week, in some ways that it might not have been before, that my presence as the district attorney in Durham is not furthering the cause of justice," Nifong said, adding later: "My community has suffered enough."

But even after saying he would resign, Nifong was incapable of agreeing that no crime was committed. Asked late Friday if he still believed the accuser was attacked, Nifong paused for several seconds before answering that while he could not say it was a sexual assault, "something happened to make everybody leave that scene very quickly."

That enraged the players' defense attorneys, who immediately rejected Nifong's attempt to take responsibility by leaving office.

"(The accuser) and Mike Nifong are the only two people in the country who believe something happened in that bathroom," said Seligmann's attorney, Jim Cooney. "She is mentally unbalanced, and he -- as was pointed out today -- operated in a world in which he never considers ethics or his duties."

Nifong acknowledged Friday he was likely to be punished by the disciplinary committee for maybe getting "carried away a little bit" when talking about the case. He said he regretted some of his statements, including a confident proclamation that he wouldn't allow Durham to become known for "a bunch of lacrosse players from Duke raping a black girl."

Brocker pounded on such statements on Saturday, saying Nifong "repeatedly trampled" on the constitutional rights of the lacrosse team. There is simply no way, Brocker said, that Nifong couldn't have known he was making improper comments to reporters.

"They (were) clearly going to cause public condemnation of anybody who was charged," Brocker said.

Brocker also focused on when Nifong learned about the full extent of the DNA test results and when he shared that information with the defense.

Nifong gave defense attorneys an initial report on the DNA testing in May 2006 that said private lab DNA Security Inc. had been unable to find a conclusive match between the accuser and any lacrosse players.

But lab director Brian Meehan testified this week that he told Nifong as early as April 10, 2006 -- a week before Seligmann and Finnerty were indicted -- about the more detailed test results.

"The positive results were the truth," Brocker said. "They just weren't the whole truth."

Nifong testified when he gave the defense the initial report, he "believed at the time that I had given them everything." In court documents and hearings in May, June and September, he told two different judges that he had no more evidence that could be considered helpful to the defense. He said he didn't realize until months later that the additional DNA information was missing.

"My first reaction was a variation of 'oh crap,'" Nifong said. "'I didn't give them this?'"

It was an argument that appeared to carry little weight with the committee.

"He knew. He admits he knew," Williamson said during Witt's closing. "How could he not know if he had read it? How could he not know?"

Anonymous said...

Nifong gave more than 50 interviews, many with the national media, according to his own account and confirmed by the News & Observer In these interviews, Nifong repeatedly said that he is "confident that a rape occurred," calling the players "a bunch of hooligans" whose "daddies could buy them expensive lawyers. Since early April 2006, however, Nifong has generally refused to talk to the media.

On July 18, 2006, defense lawyers charged that Nifong made "unprofessional and discourteous" remarks. During a preliminary hearing, Nifong said, "[Defense] attorneys were almost disappointed that their clients didn't get indicted so they could be a part of this spectacle here in Durham." One lawyer ascertained that "Nifong's statement is an insult to the legal profession as a whole and is certainly unwarranted by any facts in this case." Others saw it as a personal insult. Immediately following the remarks, Nifong went on vacation and could not be reached for further comment.

On October 27, 2006, Nifong stated in court that neither he nor his assistants had yet discussed the alleged assault with the accuser, saying they had so far left that aspect of the investigation to the police.

On December 12, 2006, Congressman Walter Jones, Jr., R-NC, wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, "asking for an investigation into Nifong to determine whether he is guilty of prosecutorial misconduct".

On December 16, 2006, it was revealed that Nifong and DNA lab director Brian Meeham conspired to withhold exculpatory DNA evidence from the final report submitted to the defense team. DNA findings, by law, must be immediately reported to the defense.

On June 16, 2007, the North Carolina State Bar Disciplinary Committee unanimously voted to strip Nifong of his law license after delivering a verdict of "yes" (i.e., guilty) to 27 of 32 charges. The committee found that Nifong's previous disciplinary record and acknowledgment of his improper pre-trial statements were substantially outweighed by (among other things) the players' vulnerability and his failure to acknowledge the "wrongful nature of (his) conduct with respect of the handling of DNA evidence.

On January 15, 2008, Nifong filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.[90] He listed assets of almost $244,000 and liabilities of over $180.3 million, the bulk of which being six $30 million "unsecured nonpriority claims," one for each of the six members of the 2005-2006 Duke Lacrosse team suing Nifong, among others.

While the filing automatically delayed the civil suit against him, it may not protect Nifong from civil liability for his actions in the case. Unsecured creditors can still pursue claims against someone filing for bankruptcy if the debt was incurred through "willful and malicious injury" to them. Indeed, Seligmann's attorney, noted Triangle lawyer David Rudolf, said that the players intend to pursue such a claim.

Judge William Stocks ruled against Nifong's Bankruptcy claim, and announced that the plaintiffs can pursue their lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

The vote in November will not be for Republicans, it will be against President Obama.