Five Indictments Possibly Not The End

ORANGE COUNTY – Lately, all the focus has been on five indictments handed out on charges of breaking the Uniformed Athlete Agents Act (UAAA), but Orange and Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall says there are other ongoing investigations involving UNC.

“There is an ongoing investigation in the AFAM department,” Woodall says. “That’s been ongoing for a while.”

Former African and Afro-American Studies Department chair, Julius Nyang’oro was found to have conducted classes he didn’t actually teach. An external review of the department by former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin found that the problem dated back to 1997.

Woodall has not announced who he and the SBI have been investigating, but the question still lingers of whether Nyang’oro and other members of the AFAM department at UNC committed fraud by collecting paychecks from the University.

Wednesday, Georgia-based sports agent, Terry Watson had his first court appearance on 13 felony counts of breaking the UAAA with athlete-agent inducement and one court of obstruction of justice.

Last week, former UNC tutor, Jennifer Thompson appeared on four counts of athlete-agent inducement.

Woodall has said these five indictments are the first in the history of the UAAA that anyone can find. North Carolina adopted the law in 2003, and according to the NCAA website, as of 2010, 40 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands adhere to it. Three other states have non-UAAA laws in place to regulate agents.

Woodall says he can’t say for certain whether or not other states are likely to file similar charges.

“I think, because of what’s happened here, they’re certainly going to become more aware of this, and I think there are some states that know that we have information that we’d certainly share with them if they want to approach us about it,” Woodall says.

Wednesday the News and Observer published a story with the headline: ‘Orange DA adds staff to pursue sports agents…’

“That’s a very misleading headline,” Woodall says. “The DA’s office here has added no staff. I’m going to have a prosecutor who’s already been sworn in to work on this case; his name’s Mitch Gerrell—a longtime prosecutor from DurhamCounty. He’s going to be working on this case, but he’s not truly a member of my staff.”

Gerrell works for the North Carolina Conference of DAs as a special prosecutor to prosecute white-collar crimes. Woodall says his job is to assist DA offices in these types of cases and that’s just what he’ll be doing.

He says he’s also using the assistance of members of the Secretary of State’s office.

“There’s a statute that allows attorney’s from the Secretary of State’s office to be sworn in as assistant DAs to work on cases that the Secretary of State’s office has jurisdiction over,” Woodall says. “So, two of their attorneys are going to be sworn in as assistant district attorneys.”

He says while they will still be working for the Secretary of State’s office, they’ll work under the supervision of Woodall.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall began this investigation three years ago since the UAAA states agents in North Carolina have to register with Marshall’s office. Woodall wasn’t brought into the investigation until about a year and a half later.

Now the waiting games continues for the remaining three indictments, and Woodall says it could still be a little while until we know who else is being charged.

“We’re waiting for other people to be served,” Woodall says. “That can be by them turning themselves in or them being served wherever they happen to be. I really don’t have a specific timeline on that; I think it will be over the next couple of weeks.”

For more on the charges against Terry Watson, click here.

For more on the charges against Jennifer Thompson, click here.

NC Democrats – Following a Lead and Finding a Leader

How are the North Carolina Democratic Party and the National Republican Party alike?

That is easy. Both lost elections this fall and do not know what to do about it.

It is particularly humiliating for North Carolina Democrats. They have to face a legislature totally dominated by Republicans, who have gerrymandered so effectively that it is hard to see how Democrats could regain control in the foreseeable future.

Thus, they are scratching their heads when they hear and read about how the Republicans lost their way and the Democrats won a great victory in November. Or, when they hear that North Carolina demographic trends favor Democrats in the long term.

So, what should the North Carolina Democrats do now?

One party activist told me they should follow the example of national Republicans and “and get some new leadership at the state and district level willing to critically evaluate our mistakes.”

He read that the Republican National Committee has a plan to review the 2012 elections to determine what worked and what did not. Their Growth and Opportunity project will address issues like “campaign mechanics and ground game, messaging, fundraising, demographic partners and allies, third-party groups, campaign finance issues, presidential primaries, lessons learned from Democratic campaign tactics.”

Assuming North Carolina Democrats are willing to follow the lead of the national Republicans, what should they be doing? Before they can follow anybody’s lead, they have to find a leader or a leadership group.

For the first time in 20 years, the Democrats do not have a governor who could claim responsibility to recruit party leadership. Nor are there senior legislative leaders up to the task.

That leaves statewide elected political leaders such as Council of State members Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Attorney General Roy Cooper, Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin, Treasurer Janet Cowell, Auditor Beth Wood, and Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson. None of them, of course, has the clout of a governor. But all have statewide contacts and supporters. Marshall and Cooper have high-profile positions and have earned widespread respect. Goodwin and Cowell have built good networks and are potential candidates for higher office.

Any of them who garnered enthusiastic support from the others would be a good candidate to take the lead in rebuilding the party.

The other major statewide elected official is U.S. Senator Kay Hagan. In recent years, North Carolina Democratic senators have not been active in state and local party matters. They have built their own organizations and fundraising efforts.

Hagan, too, has her own support group, and she is a successful fundraiser. Arguably, she should stay out of state party politics. But she has more to gain than any other statewide elected official from a strong active party. She is up for reelection in 2014 and her prospects would be improved by an enthusiastic, well-organized, and unified party.

Once Hagan or some other individual or small group takes responsibility, the first task will be to recruit and persuade the party organization to select a party chair and executive director who will bring unity and energy to the task. For an example, they could look back to the 1980s, which were also challenging times for North Carolina Democrats. People like current Congressman David Price, popular Raleigh lawyer Wade Smith, and current public relations executive Ken Eudy were recruited to party leadership positions where they helped strengthen the organization and prepared it for a string of successes.

For today’s North Carolina Democrats, time is wasting. The 2014 campaign begins in just a few days.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage. A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.
This week’s (December 28, 30) guest is Kevin Duffus author of “War Zone—World War II off the North Carolina Coast.” Bookwatch Classics (programs from earlier years) airs Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). Wednesday’s (January 2) past guest program features Lee Smith author of “The Last Girls.”
For a North Carolinian who is interested in World War II, here is a perfect suggestion: “War Zone—World War II off the North Carolina Coast.” Author Kevin Duffus reviews the first seven months of the war when German U-boats destroyed U.S. ships off the North Carolina coast at will. He also tells some of the human interest stories that accompanied military action in the North Carolina zone of that war. (Dec. 28, 30)