Thomas Goldsmith and John Frank
State Republicans moved publicly Monday to defend their candidate for state auditor, Wake County school board member Debra Goldman.
But GOP officials also made behind-the-scenes moves to distance themselves from her candidacy, with Goldman now missing from this week’s schedule of joint campaign appearances by Republican statewide candidates.
State Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes issued a statement Monday urging voters to stand behind all the GOP candidates running for state office this year.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, who campaigned Saturday with Goldman, said through a spokesman that he would reserve judgment on the “convoluted situation,” but the spokesman questioned the timing of recent disclosures about Goldman that were based on what he called “a stolen police report.”
A story in Sunday’s News & Observer, citing a police narrative obtained Thursday from an unknown source, reported that Goldman had named fellow school board member Chris Malone as a suspect in a 2010 burglary of her home that involved $20,000 cash she kept in a “ratty pink backpack” in her bedroom.
“Pat believes that the timing of this story, coming after voting has already started, and its basis from a stolen police report, to be troubling,” said Brian Nick, McCrory’s spokesman. “If the allegations are based on facts, Pat hopes that the folks involved are able to tend to these matters, and his prayers are with the families impacted.”
McCrory’s position brought a sharp retort from the camp of his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton.
“Pat McCrory seems to have blinders when it comes to Republican scandals,” said Schorr Johnson, a Dalton spokesman. “McCrory campaigned with Debra Goldman on Saturday and owes the voters an explanation about the kind of candidate he wants as the taxpayers’ watchdog. Walter Dalton supports Beth Wood for State Auditor.”
Cary police are investigating how the document, a narrative containing notes of investigators, was sent to The N&O. Under state law, police are not obligated to release such narratives, but are not prohibited from doing so. The authenticity of the document has not been officially disputed.
The document describes events in June 2010, when Goldman called police to say her house had been broken into and she was missing $100,000 in jewelry, $20,000 in cash and $10,000 in collectible coins.
According to the report, Goldman kept such large amounts of money at home in case of emergency because “she found it very difficult” getting money from the bank right after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In subsequent interviews, the report said, Goldman implicated Malone, a Republican candidate for a state House seat, as a suspect. In interviews cited in the report, Goldman said also that she had resisted Malone’s advances over a period of several months, while Malone said the two had a “very heated” physical relationship. Both Goldman and Malone are married, although Goldman has since become estranged from her husband.
Malone was cleared after interviews and an investigation, and Cary police closed the burglary case in early October 2010, the day before Goldman cast a crucial voted that killed a school assignment plan that both previously had backed.
Nick said McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte, is withholding judgment until more facts are available about Goldman’s actions and the police report.
Also Monday, Goldman and Malone separately broke their silences about the 2010 police report that included conflicting accounts of whether they had a romantic relationship. Both said they intend to continue their campaigns, but did not comment directly on the issues raised by the report.
“I am continuing my campaign for state auditor, and I am saddened that I have to even dignify these reports with a response,” Goldman said in a written statement. “This is all I will say regarding this issue, and I consider the matter closed.”Endorsements uncertain
McCrory’s spokesman did not respond to a question on whether he endorsed Goldman. Her image was taken down or left unidentified on fellow school board member John Tedesco’s Facebook site for his run for state superintendent of public instruction.
And a GOP spokesman did not respond to questions about whether Goldman will appear at party campaign events between Monday and election day, Nov. 6.
Goldman was left several messages from The N&O Friday seeking comment on the allegations in the report, but she apparently did not mention the police report to fellow candidates at a campaign rally Saturday in western North Carolina. Other Republican candidates at the event included McCrory, Tedesco, Ed Goodwin, a candidate for secretary of state, and Paul Newby, who is seeking re-election to the state Supreme Court.
Hayes, who attended the event in Wilkesboro, didn’t learn of allegations about Malone and Goldman until he read the story Sunday morning, a spokesman said. In a statement, Hayes urged voters to continue to support Republicans.
“All of our candidates were elected to be on the ballot by voters throughout North Carolina during the primary,” he said. “The North Carolina Republican Party will continue to ask voters to vote straight-ticket Republican.”
Goodwin declined to comment.‘No reason to drop out’
Tedesco declined comment Monday on the potential impact of recent stories about Goldman on the rest of the GOP ticket.
“I don’t have any comment on people’s personal lives, except that I’d encourage the community to pray for their families,” Tedesco said.
But by Monday afternoon, Tedesco’s Facebook campaign page had changed. A photo from Saturday’s rally which originally was posted with Goldman in it was later cropped to remove her image. Photo captions from the rally that originally mentioned her appearance were changed to remove her name.
On Tedesco’s personal Facebook page, Goldman’s name was no longer listed in the caption for one photo. The page also showed that Tedesco had deleted comments that people had made about Goldman and Malone’s situation.
Tedesco would say only that he periodically updates the Facebook pages to make sure the items are relevant to his campaign.
Tedesco is one of the Council of State candidates who will appear at GOP campaign events this week with Hayes from Asheville to Wilmington, with stops in Raleigh and Smithfield. Goldman is not listed as a participant in any of the events.
In their responses Monday, Goldman charged that the news stories were “politically motivated,” while Malone said he had “moved past it.”
“I am disappointed that The News & Observer would stoop to a new low in its coverage during an election year,” Goldman said in a statement emailed to local media. “It is obvious that these stories are politically motivated, and the timing is designed to derail my campaign. It only serves to continue the newspaper’s history of attacks on me and my family.”
Malone said his attorneys had advised him not to comment on the Sunday N&O story about the report or the details in the document.
“There’s no reason to drop out,” Malone said. “I’ve already moved past it. I have faith that my constituents know who I am and why I’m running, so I’m just going to keep campaigning.”
Malone, a Wake Forest Republican, is running for the open District 35 seat against Lori Millberg, a Democrat from Wendell who formerly served on the Wake County school board.
“I guess the best word is ‘appalled,’ ” Millberg said of her reaction to the 2010 police report. “The overwhelming feeling I have is that I feel so sorry for their families and their kids.” Staff writer Paul A. Specht contributed to this report.