RALEIGH — A police report in which one Republican Wake County school board member named another as a suspect in her home’s burglary could damage their election bids for state government offices next month, North Carolina political experts said Monday.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Sunday that school board member and state auditor candidate Debra Goldman named fellow board member Chris Malone as a suspect in a burglary at her home in 2010. Goldman reported the theft of $130,000 in jewelry, cash and coins from her home, according to a police report. Malone is running for a state House seat.
A portion of the report that police aren’t required to release as a public record but obtained by the newspaper also said Goldman and Malone gave conflicting statements about whether they had a romantic relationship. Both board members are married, although Goldman is now estranged from her husband, the newspaper said. Malone was dropped as a suspect in the reported burglary.
Malone and Goldman didn’t respond to emails Monday from The Associated Press seeking comment on the newspaper stories. The voice mail on Goldman’s school board office phone was full, while the message on her home phone didn’t accept messages. Malone didn’t return a message left on his school board office phone.
Malone and Goldman told The News & Observer on Monday they’re going to continue their respective races for higher office. Goldman said in an email the stories were “politically motivated” and “designed to derail my campaign.”
Malone said he had been advised by his attorneys not to comment on the police report.
“I’ve already moved past it,” he said. “I have faith that my constituents know who I am and why I’m running, so I’m just going to keep campaigning.”
Goldman is competing against Democratic State Auditor Beth Wood in the November election. The information disclosed from the police report may help Wood in a campaign year that may not be the best one for Democrats, William Peace University political science professor David McLennan said.
“Goldman’s personal problems and more the questions about her judgment are the ones that are more significant,” McLennan said, adding now “Beth Wood doesn’t have to raise these questions about Debra Goldman’s judgment.”
Wood didn’t return a message left on her cellphone seeking comment Monday but she told The News & Observer on Sunday she didn’t think the news accounts would necessarily prove crucial to the race.
The stories were “politically fatal news” for Goldman and Malone, longtime state political researcher John Davis said Monday. He predicted Wood and Malone’s Democratic opponents would now likely win on election night.
State GOP Chairman Robin Hayes stood by the candidacies of Malone and Goldman on Monday, saying “our thoughts are with the Debra Goldman, Chris Malone and their families during these tough times.”
“All of our candidates were elected to be on the ballot by voters throughout North Carolina during the primary,” Hayes said in a statement to the AP. “The North Carolina Republican Party will continue to ask voters to vote straight-ticket Republican.”
The police report’s narrative said Goldman told police that someone had broken into her home in June 2010 and had stolen $100,000 in jewelry, $20,000 in cash and $10,000 worth of coins, according to The News & Observer. A police investigator wrote Goldman said she kept so much money at home because “she found it very difficult to get money from her bank in order to pay her bills” after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Goldman named other potential suspects in addition to Malone.
According to the police report narrative, Malone said he and Goldman had a “very heated” physical relationship, while Goldman said she rebuffed his romantic advances.
Malone and Goldman were elected to the school board in 2009 as part of a new Republican majority that scrapped a decade-old classroom assignment plan that aimed for diverse student populations.