HOW I BLUFFED MY WAY THROUGH TWO POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS
AND ROCKED THE POLITICAL FOUNDATIONS OF NORTH CAROLINA
(C) 2006 - R. L. HUNTER, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Early on in my political campaign, I was a guest on a radio show and was asked by a caller named Teddy why I wanted to run for office and participate in such a corrupt system. I confess that I really did not have an answer at that time. However, I have given much thought to this question throughout my campaigns.
I do not want to be part of a corrupt and broken system and that is what we have in this country, whether it is on the local, state or national level. We have a national senate that has become a millionaires' club. We have sycophants from both sides of the aisle who care nothing for us or what is in our best interests, but only about what will keep them in power and what the special interests and lobbyists dictate. Not all individuals are of this ilk and I do not mean to taint them. Unfortunately, such individuals are rare and, if they are so fortunate as to attain public office, they are often so marginalized as to be rendered of no consequence.
So why would I or anyone else want to be a participant in such a system? The short answer is that I don't. Like so many others, I could simply abstain and not even bother to vote as my vote will not really make a difference anyway. From one perspective, that is true. Those who are in control have such immense power that there is little that ordinary people can do to fight it. But every once in awhile, one person makes it through or at the very least thwarts those in power. I wanted to be the one that made it through. I wanted to do my part to clean up my little corner of the world for which I was responsible. And others throughout my career have commented on my writing and research skills and my "fine analytical mind" as one of my professors long ago opined. I wanted to put these skills and talents to work where I felt they could best be used. And I wanted to change the justice system.
A long time ago, I came across a cartoon that depicted attorneys meeting their client for the first time. The client was in jail. The lawyers asked him, "Just how much justice can you afford?" That cartoon was telling.
We have one brand of justice for people like Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh or Patrick Kennedy. How many ordinary people like you or me would have received the kind of special treatment that each of them received? Its not only that kind of treatment. Some police officers are little more than thugs with badges. A few incidents are illustrative of the problem.
In a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an individual named Johnny Gammage was stopped for a traffic violation. He ended up dead following an incident that was described as a “scuffle” by police. In Atlanta, an elderly woman named Kathryn Johnson was shot by officers executing a “no knock” search warrant to search for drugs which she did not have. Frightened, she tried to defend herself and shot at the officers. They fired back and killed her. Recently, a young man named Peyton Strickland was shot through the head by police officers, even before he opened the door. His crime? Allegedly stealing an Xbox360. Nyles Arrington was killed by an off-duty officer because he allegedly tried to steal her car. Another citizen, Robert Wise, was dragged from his car and beaten because he supposedly did not park his vehicle correctly. Rene Thomas, a cook at a Raleigh sports bar, also was beaten up by off-duty police officers. The list can go on.
I am not suggesting that those who commit crimes should be allowed to do so with impunity or without consequences. Those who are adjudged guilty must face the consequences of their acts. However, these individuals are human beings and are entitled to be sentenced only after they have stood trial for their crimes and been found guilty. However, most of the victims that I described received a death sentence with no trial, and often some for relatively trivial crimes. The ones who were only beaten were fortunate; at least they were allowed to live. And it is not just police officers who have this mindset; there are some prosecutors who are equally out of control.
Because of the publicity, most people are familiar with the antics of the district attorney in the Duke non-rape case, Mike Nifong. However, he is by no means the first prosecutor to conceal or fail to turn over evidence. There are prosecutors David Hoke and Debra Graves, who did not turn over a tape recording in the Alan Gell murder case. Prosecutors Ken Honeycutt and Scott Brewer knew of a deal in which a witness received favors in exchange for his testimony and failed to disclose the information. And this is just a few recent North Carolina cases. There are prosecutors in other cases and in other states who have likewise concealed or failed to turn over evidence, prosecutors who kept a favorable informant at the jail with promises of a lenient sentence in exchange for testimony regarding supposed jailhouse confessions, or prosecutors who were concerned with winning and using the prosecutor’s job for higher political office, not about seeking justice. Other prosecutorial tricks are to pile on criminal charges against a hapless defendant and abusing the plea-bargaining system. Read the novel by Thomas Moore, “The Hunt for Confederate Gold.” Although it is a work of fiction, it accurately portrays how the federal prosecutor in that case wanted to use position as a prosecutor as a stepping stone to higher office.
And the problem is not limited to just the criminal justice system. Its prevalent in the civil justice system too. I have heard far too many stories of judges and/or lawyers being in cahoots with each other. Yes, some of these people who tell such stories are disgruntled litigants. Fifty percent of the people who are in court must necessarily lose their cases. But there is more than a kernel of truth to their allegations that justice is for sale in this country. It is clear that justice for the most part has fled from our courthouses. I wanted to change that and restore the concept of justice to our legal system. I felt that I had to try.
After my campaigns concluded, I felt that others out there who were political neophytes like me and who were considering a run for office might derive some benefit from the knowledge that I developed through the course of my two campaigns. As a result, I wrote this book. For those who are current office holders, this book is probably not for you. It is for little people who are new to political campaigns, those who are little people who, like me, feel impelled to try and change the system we have for the better. It also is for those who have run for office and lost and who may not know why and this book may help them succeed in future campaigns.
The early chapters are geared towards the operation of a political campaign and will contain ideas and tips to get you started. As the book progresses, I relate some of the things which I encountered in my campaign, things which you will need to be aware of in your own quest for office. I hope that you find this book useful.