@NCCapitol

Goldman says burglary story was politically motivated

Posted October 22, 2012 6:28 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2012 6:57 p.m. EDT

— Wake County school board member Debra Goldman said Monday that someone is trying to derail her campaign for state auditor by leaking a 2010 police report that details a burglary at her Cary home. The report goes on to suggest Goldman might have had a romantic relationship with fellow school board member Chris Malone, who is running for state House.

Goldman denies the relationship and says the furor caused by the report won't sidetrack her effort to become state government's chief financial watchdog.

"It is obvious that these stories are politically motivated," Goldman said in a statement. "The timing is designed to derail my campaign."

Copies of the 23-page report were delivered anonymously to WRAL News and at least one other news outlet last week, just as early voting began throughout North Carolina. The report details the burglary in which Goldman told police that $20,000 in cash, as well as $100,000 worth of jewelry and $10,000 worth of coins from a coin collection were stolen from her home on June 12, 2010.

According to the report, Goldman said she kept large amounts of money on hand after having trouble accessing her bank account following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Much of the report is not a public record, and it is unclear who provided copies to the media or how they obtained the document. In a statement, Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore said her agency is investigating how the report became public.

"Due to the seriousness of this situation and to ensure we have not violated the public's trust in our department, we started an official Internal Investigation through our Professional Standards Division and the investigation is being led by Captain Tracy Jernigan," Bazemore said.

Goldman has not challenged the authenticity of the report, and Bazemore said it does appear to be authentic.

According to the report, there were no signs of forced entry after the burglary at Goldman's house. Goldman told police she had lost her keys the week before at a Wake County Board of Education meeting.

Goldman initially told Cary police that she believed her opponent in the 2009 school board race and other political opponents might be behind the theft.

Several days later, she went to police with the possibility that Malone might be responsible. Malone, also a Republican, is running for state legislature in House District 35.

According to officers' case notes, Goldman said Malone wanted a romantic relationship with her. She told police that he frequently sent her text messages, sometimes after midnight.

"Malone told Goldman even though he knew she was not interested in a relationship with him, he had to tell Goldman he was in love with her," the report said.

Police questioned Malone, who said he and Goldman were involved in a romantic relationship for several months following their election to the school board. Both were married to other people at the time.

It was "like high school kids dating," Malone told officers, according to the case notes.

Goldman contradicted Malone, telling police that the relationship was never romantic and that she rebuffed his advances.

Police cleared Malone of any involvement in the burglary.

WRAL has been trying to reach Goldman for comment since last week. In her statement Monday, she said, she is continuing her campaign for state auditor.

"I am saddened that I have to even dignify these reports with a response," she said. "This is all I will say regarding this issue, and I consider the matter closed."

Malone says media coverage of the police report will not keep him from pushing forward with his campaign. Asked to respond to the specifics of the police report, both Malone and his lawyer, Philip Isley, declined to comment.

Former Wake school board Chairman Ron Margiotta told WRAL Monday that he asked Goldman and Malone about their relationship while they were on the board together. He said they denied it was romantic. Margiotta said he now wonders whether their relationship affected the board's vote on its 2010 reassignment plan. Goldman broke ranks with the Republican majority, and the plan was changed significantly.

Whether or not this incident affected Wake County school board policy, it could affect both Goldman's and Malone's campaigns for higher office.

Goldman, in particular, has been a target of criticism by conservative grass-roots Republicans activists who say her candidacy was pushed by the state party.

Democratic Auditor Beth Wood said Monday that she did not intend to use material from the report in her campaign against Goldman.

"It's always been about the credentials and her lack thereof," Wood said. Wood is a CPA and a specialist in government auditing. Goldman is not an accountant by training.

Lori Millberg, the Democrat running against Malone for state House, said she, too, would avoid mentioning the episode on the campaign trail.

"I have said from the start that I don't want any part of that," said Millberg, adding that rumors about Goldman and Malone have been circulating since she got into the campaign. "I feel so bad for their families."

House District 35 is considered Republican-leaning by many analysts, although voter registration there is closely divided and operatives with both parties are paying close attention to the district.

Asked if it would affect the election, Millberg said, "It's hard to say why people vote the way they vote....I'm just going to continue running my campaign as I have been running it. I believe I'm more qualified to serve."