[Scheduling note: I will be posting periodically today on the Whichard Committee hearing into the DPD's misconduct. Accordingly, this week's Group of 88 profile will run tomorrow.]
North Carolina’s senior senator is Republican Elizabeth Dole. The wife of former Majority Leader Bob Dole, Elizabeth Dole served in the Reagan and Bush I cabinets. As secretary of transportation, she ignored traditional Republican reverence for federalism and played a key role in using federal power to force all states to adopt a drinking age of 21.
Even as several Republican members of Congress have followed the lead of North Carolina congressman Walter Jones; and even as Democratic senator Barack Obama publicly endorsed a Department of Justice inquiry, Dole has remained silent.
A letter sent over her signature to a DIW reader suggests that she is unaware of significant developments in her own state.
Dated June 27, 2007, the letter read:
Thank you for contacting me concerning the indictment of lacrosse players from Duke University. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to take this opportunity to respond.
As you may know, in the spring of this year [sic], three players from Duke University's lacrosse team were charged with rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping. All three players have maintained their innocence.
As a U.S. senator, I have no role in specific criminal justice cases, and it would be inappropriate for me to intervene in, or publicly comment on, an ongoing criminal investigation [sic] and pending judicial proceeding [sic] such as the one involving the lacrosse players.
Again, thank you for contacting me with your concerns. Should you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or visit my website at http://dole.senate.gov.
With my warmest best wishes,
With Attorney General Roy Cooper previously mentioned as a possible challenger to Dole in 2008, perhaps the senator had partisan reasons to pretend the case was still alive. But Cooper has made it clear he’s not going to run, and Dole appears likely to win a second term.
Moreover, by claiming that it would be “inappropriate” for her to urge a federal inquiry into Mike Nifong’s misconduct, is Dole accusing her fellow Republicans—such as Jones, Kansas congressman Todd Tiahrt, and New York congressman Peter King—of behaving in an “inappropriate” fashion?
Is Dole aware that the Justice Department has authority to open a civil rights inquiry into the authorities’ behavior in this case, an issue on which it would be most appropriate for her—as a sitting U.S. senator—to comment?
Finally, is it possible to believe that in late June, the state’s senior senator was unaware that the highest-profile “criminal investigation” in the state’s history had ended more than two months before?