A few other items of note from the campaign finance reports:
1.) Nifong has received public defenses from figures who have declined to identify themselves as donors.
For instance, here’s John Bourlon dismissing allegations that Nifong moved forward with a weak case: “I’m convinced he has something,” Bourlon told the Associated Press. Since
The AP article described Bourlon in the following way: “The criminal defense lawyer has faced off against Nifong hundreds of times over the past three decades.” Bourlon apparently “forgot” to mention his vested interest in the outcome of the race: on February 19, he donated $1000 to the Nifong re-election effort—the second largest individual contribution that Nifong received for the primary campaign.
[The AP added that Bourlon has “seen the prosecutor drop a weak case the day before trial.” That comment begs the question of why Nifong would wait so long to drop a weak case. And does he have a pattern of filing weak cases?]
A similar situation applies to
To my knowledge,
2.) The claim that Nifong enjoys passionate grassroots support is chimerical.
Nifong’s defenders have portrayed him as a man with strong grassroots support besieged by a handful of outsiders. (The nearly 10,000 county voters who signed Lewis Cheek petitions are conveniently forgotten in this scenario.) According to a self-pitying statement on Nifong’s website, “We hear from people all over
A longtime community activist, it would seem, would have little difficulty assembling a flourishing fundraising base from the many people whose lives he touched over the years. Instead, of course, Nifong had to fall back upon soliciting funds from the lawyers who did business with the Durham D.A.’s office. This group formed 83.6 percent of his itemized contributions between January 1 and February 19.
Perhaps Nifong’s paltry record of community service explains his difficulties in raising funds other than from those who needed to solicit his good will. As Liestoppers noted, Nifong claimed the following items as community service:
- Member of Durham County Bar Association;
Crime Cabinet; Durham
- Member of Aldersgate United
; Methodist Church
- Animal Control Board;
- Member of
- former board member, manager, and umpire at North Durham Little League.
Items (1) and (2), of course, aren’t “community service” at all, but are professional responsibilities. As to item (3), I’m not sure that most people consider attending church “community service.”
Item (4)? We learned the depth of Nifong's commitment to the Animal Control Board after he sent an e-mail saying he “was truly dismayed at the number of my fellow board members who signed the Lewis Cheek [petition].” He threatened to quit the board.
So, the sum total Nifong’s “community service”—this from a 27-year veteran of the D.A.’s office—amounts to coaching and umpiring in his son’s little league. No wonder he had trouble raising funds from outside the legal profession.
3.) The lacrosse case provided no financial benefit to Freda Black.
In the final month before the May 2 primary, Black raised just under $11,000. That total was consistent with her fundraising pace over the previous four months. She showed only one new donor from outside
A commenter yesterday suggested that Black was flooded with contributions from "Iron Duke" activists after the lacrosse case emerged. Yet outside of Cearoin, the challenger attracted only six new donors after Nifong went public about the case, all from Durham or Hillsborough; the six donated a grand total of $2199.89. That figure hardly suggests a Duke alumni conspiracy to oust Nifong. None of Black’s April donations came from out of state.
4.) Nifong generously subsidized his friends at the Herald-Sun.
The district attorney flooded the Herald-Sun with advertising, spending more than $7,500 on various Herald-Sun ads. Freda Black, though better funded, spent scarcely half as much on the Durham newspaper.
The relationship, it appears, has been mutually beneficial. The ad-strapped Herald-Sun received a disproportionate boost in advertising revenue. Editor Bob Ashley, meanwhile, has overseen a pro-Nifong news/editorial barrage characterized by excluding all mention of anti-Nifong items; blatantly distorting the remarks of Lewis Cheek; publishing an article on the
It’s worth noting, however, that yesterday’s article by John Stevenson contained a (subsequently verified) scoop—that the three accused players, plus Kim Roberts, would be appearing this Sunday on 60 Minutes. The article was also scrupulously fair, quoting from the police statements of Roberts and the accuser’s “driver,” Jarriel Johnson.
I hope this Stevenson piece signals a return to more balanced journalism, at least on the news pages of the paper. Early in the case, Stevenson produced several good articles, suggesting that he is capable of solid journalism when not straightjacketed by Ashley.
At the very least, yesterday’s story must have produced chills in the offices of Nifong and the Durham Police. Stevenson says it’s unclear whether Johnson cooperated with 60 Minutes. An even more intriguing question: did any police officers involved in the investigation secretly cooperate with the news program?