Jackie Brown, who managed Mike Nifong’s primary campaign but then was a key player in the Recall Nifong-Vote Cheek effort last November, has given an interview to the ABC Law and Justice unit. This is the first time that the public has received any behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Nifong effort, and Brown’s revelations are fascinating.
1.) Nifong’s motives were personal--as in financial*.
You’d like to think that politicians are motivated by grand ideals or well-considered ideologies, but the reality is usually far more banal. In Nifong’s case, it’s about as banal as it gets: he wanted to maximize his pension.
“Some of his first words to me were that he really didn’t want to do this—meaning the campaign,” Brown said, “but that he needed three years and some odd months for retirement.”
To me, this is the most convincing explanation of Nifong’s motives yet to appear. It’s clear he’s not an ideologue—as his earlier decisions on rape cases suggested. Nor is he a good politician—as his pre-case appearance before black voters suggested.
2.) Politics affected the case--but in the November election, not the primary.
Brown offers an intriguing political analysis, suggesting that “by the time November got here, if he had come out and changed his mind and apologize then he probably wouldn't have gotten re-elected.”
In short, Nifong was stuck: if he dropped the case and apologized, he would have been exposed as a fraud and lost what had become his base in the African-American community; if he pressed forward, he was heading straight into what we’re now seeing—ethics charges and national ridicule.
3.) Nifong should have no role in the case.
Brown: “I would like for him to recuse himself and to let another prosecutor come in and look at the case.”