Conspiracy theory

by | Feb 13, 2014 | Democrats, Editor's Blog, NC Politics | 19 comments

For years, the Tin Foil Hat caucus that supports Randy Voller now, and supported David Parker before, spent much of their time obsessing over conspiracy theories about hidden scandals within the state Democratic Party headquarters. One story line centers on consultants, like me, who have done work for the party in the past. According to them, we’re all trying to get into the party coffers through manipulating our connections with party officers or staff.

Well, I’ve got a conspiracy theory for them.

When Randy Voller was elected chair, he brought to the party with him a guy named Michael Carmichael. Carmichael claims to be a political consultant, among many other things.

Party activists took offense at Voller hiring Carmichael with no specific job duties and no oversight from the Executive Council. The activists wanted Voller to go. To settle the feud, Voller and his critics reached an agreement. The critics agreed to quit calling for Voller’s dismissal and the chair agreed to end the contract with Carmichael’s firm, CC & Associates. Everything was over.

Or so it seemed. Now, Voller is trying to bring in Ben Chavis. Know who the other C in CC & Associates is? You got it. Ben Chavis.

Why does Randy Voller keep trying to hire to Michael Carmichael and Ben Chavis? Who are those “Associates?” Is Randy Voller one? Does it not violate the terms of the agreement to hire a member of CC & Associates? And is it just coincidence that the attorney who set up CC & Associates, David Harris, is also now the attorney for the Democratic Party? And does he have a conflict of interest? Does Harris have any background in election law? If not, why the hell is he the attorney for the North Carolina Democratic Party?

I also wonder how long this plan to hire Chavis has been in the works. Is it just a coincidence that Voller waited until after the State Executive Committee on February 1 to fire Dempsey? Or was Voller trying to avoid the scrutiny of the SEC in firing Dempsey and hiring Chavis?

And finally, why would anyone want this crowd dealing with Party money, or anybody’s money for that matter? Voller has or had tax liens against him and also used the Party credit card to go to on vacation to Las Vegas. Even if he paid the money back, it shows a cavalier approach to financial responsibility. Meanwhile, Chavis tried to use NAACP money to pay off a sexual harassment suit and his tenure as the leader of a Nation of Islam Mosque in New York was full of accusations of sexual and financial misconduct.

So, that should be plenty for the Tin Foil Hat caucus to chew on for awhile. If they are worried about consultants plundering the party, their antennas should be flying off their heads right now.


  1. Proudly Unaffiliated

    The competition between corruption and incompetence continues though it is hard to tell which is in the lead now.

  2. cooldela1966

    The Democratic tax plan of not paying your state and federal income tax has quite a bit of support among those who actually have to pay taxes. But I imagine those in the business of tax preparation will oppose it because why go to all the trouble to file your tax return if you are not going to pay the tax.

    However, if the Democrats can make it the law of the land that you do not have to pay your taxes then I am going to join up.

  3. Unaffiliated Voter

    Chavis would make a GREAT leader for the NC party of Slavery … WE the PEOPLE also support the TEA movement, even if we aren’t visibly active…NC’s problem is the lack of Equal Ballot Access, controlled BY the demopublicans. WE the PEOPLE need freedom from this constriction.

  4. John Chrystal

    Meanwhile, back in the realm of reality, WTF, the teapublicans are ruining the State and the Country and SHOULD BE the focus of the Democrats.

  5. Carolina Polly

    The reason Voller is the chair is that – literally – no one else wanted the job. Appears it has become a vehicle for personal gain. What happened in 2011 or what no is irrelevant to his qualifications and track record. It’s a severe damage to the brand of the party and will hurt all Democrats.

    If anyone with credibility would stand for election as Chair, they would be the Chair now. We have no candidate – yet, but inevitably we will.

    The central question should be: what is so special about Voller that it merits overlooking the financial issues, the incredible tone deaf trip to Vegas, the poor administration, the poor hiring (remember he hired Dempsey – who he declares now unfit to serve) and the absurd idea to bring in Chavis (horrific divisive idea).

    When political figures get a pass (say Bill Clinton) for their behaviors, it’s because they have overwhelming positive traits which outweigh the negative. In the case of Voller, the redeeming trait is that he wanted to be Chair. Nothing more. No special talents, charm, brilliance, ability, no track record of management/business success. The point of the post is the party moved out one set of consultants and another in…. ??

    As to big money, there is very little of that at the party (frankly never was much). It is in the 501c3 and 501c4 universe. They (nor I), care too much about the meanderings of the Party inside pool. The Party is overwhelmingly living off the tax checkoff which the Republicans will eliminate before the next Governor election – take that to the bank.

    The fuel for the party has been that checkoff combined with the now dead and buried “Basnight” system where donor cash went to GA leadership and distributed as needed. That died with the loss of power. The alleged “big donors” never really played with the party and today they are gone.

    It’s not you vs. them or me. It’s a question of competence, vision and integrity. We look like a clown show.

    The question to be asked: Is Randy Voller the best choice to Lead and Manage the Party. I say no, not even close. The leadership temperament and track record are not there. The problem is: who will stand for election? Who will take the personal pain? Who will put the mission above themselves? Who will take the Chair and find a competent Executive Director and let them work?

    A weak leader is far better than a person who damages the brand and will absolutely deter voters from the Democratic party in November. The SEC has awakened to that reality and they owe us better. They owe us a leader.

    We can do far better than this Chair.

  6. Mark Hufford

    Chris, I understand your perspective and I know you’ve done a ton of great work on behalf of the Party. This is a frustrating beast with many moving parts.

    Unfortunately, it is imperative that the Party get its act together for the good of both the state and the country. As I mentioned the other day, holding the majority in the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance. No question, thanks to this recent round of PR gaffes, the Koch brothers and Art Pope and their ilk smell blood in the water. Don’t believe for a second they’re not watching.

    Whether Thomas is blogging or reporting is irrelevant. The facts he’s brought to light are significant. Just when the Party could be moving forward and capitalizing on the Raleigh march’s impressive turnout, and building real momentum, Voller has taken a massive dump on the steps of Goodwin House. I consider this to be not just iincompetence, but dereliction of duty.

    Sure, plenty of people have made a living off of working for and with the Party. But the Chair needs to be beyond reproach. By bringing up Chavis at this time, he made a PR blunder to rival John Edwards’ open-zipper policy. The timing couldn’t have been worse, and any professional in any business, politics or otherwise, would have had Chavis vetted and eliminated him. The fact that Voller didn’t do so is egregious and is grounds for his removal.

    Chris, I’ve never met Randy Voller, but I worked my butt off for three years to empower the Party’s grass roots. I won’t give you a history lesson, but I remind you that Jerry Meek was opposed by every power broker in the Party and was able not only to empower the grass roots, but to strengthen the top tier of the Party, as well.

    If Voller has any decency, he will step aside so the Party can pull together and move forward. It’s the only hope to restore the Party’s newly tarnished image. Doing so would be a class move, and I hope you’ll encourage Voller to do so.

    • Chris Telesca

      Mark: I agree that the Party needs to get its act together for the good of the state and the nation. But I believe that will not happen without some very substantial reform within the Democratic Party itself. Like Howard Dean said – you got to take back your party before you can take back your government.

      As for these PR gaffes as you call them – some if not all of them are created/exacerbated by the very consultants and big money donors (very few of whom are elected party officers or delegates) who are fighting to get control of the Party away from the grassroots party officers.

      Re reporting vs. blogging: Reporting implies some sort of journalistic integrity and impartiality – free of personal bias. Blogging could be free of those things – but also could be full of them. Report facts by all means – but leave the editorializing out if you have personal or professional biases. Or at least state them up front.

      And regarding “dumps” at Goodwin House – there have been many dumps taken at Goodwin House – both literally and figuratively. When homeless people used to sleep and do other things on the back porch, the staff couldn’t be bothered to clean up. Sallie Leslie called me up and I came over with a pressure washer and pump sprayer and I cleaned things up more than once. Then I figured out a way to keep the homeless folks from coming back so that no one actually “dumped” anywhere at Goodwin House. So believe me when I say I know about “dumps” at Goodwin House. In my opinion – Randy is doing what he promised to do – clean up the mess others left (and some were continuing to leave until just recently).

      And talk about the momentum of the march in Raleigh. When folks contacted Executive Council members, some of them referred to Dr. Ben Chavis as an “uppity n*****”, and anyone who supported Chavis was a “n***** lover”. And I would also like to point out that the members of the Executive Council who gave Randy the hardest time from the get-go also failed to vote for a motion in June 2013 to support Moral Mondays. Randy enjoys the support of the AA community and other minority communities/caucuses/auxiliaries.

      Randy is cleaning things up – others are actually making the big stink about it for a variety of reasons. I know you might not be able to differentiate between the two – but I can.

      I have no problem with folks making a living off of working for and with the Party. But those people need to realize that they work for the Party officers. The officers don’t work for them. I have seen way too many examples of disrespect and insubordination take place at Goodwin House that I wonder if any of these people could make a living at another job if not for their parents or friends helping them at every step!

      As far as the NCDP Chair being beyond reproach – you mean like Ceaser’s wife? Where does it say that in the Plan of Organization that we can only elect perfect people to party office? People can run for any office they want to and we as voters should check them out before we vote for them. Randy was very up front with his background when he ran. He revealed all the information about his business and tax issues in his own website. That of course made the LexisNexis data search done by an NCDP contractor at the request of consultant working with the Mansfield for Chair campaign a totally unnecessary misuse of NCDP resources.

      Sorry – I don’t agree that considering Chavis is grounds for his removal. And that’s the great thing about the Democratic Party: it’s not just up to you or any other small group of well-connected people.

      And about your grassroots work. My motto is to “trust but verify”. According to the SBOE, there’s only one Mark Hufford registered to vote in NC, living in Burke County, and last voted in 2006? Is that you? And if so, how or why would work your butt off to empower the Party’s grassroots and yet not be registered to vote? But then again – many campaign workers and even party staffers aren’t registered to vote – at least in NC.

      Re Jerry Meek: I was there supporting Jerry all the way. Yes he was opposed by every power broker. But once Jerry won election, they shut the hell up and didn’t challenge everything he did and said. They didn’t attack him on the internet, make up fake Twitter accounts, personally attack him and cause his personal business to suffer.

      But the big difference between things when Jerry was Chair and things as they are now is that the Democrats controlled both the GA, and the Governor’s mansion. The transactional donors were supporting Dems and there was plenty of money for consultants to overcharge for mediocre work, and for the offspring of big donors to get cushy jobs with the party or a campaign as a stepping-stone to a state job with benefits and a pension assuming they couldn’t finagle their way into a big-time consulting job.

      Not sure what you mean by strengthen the top tier of the Party. If you mean he got more Democrats elected at the top of the ticket, I wish you would elaborate more on that. Jerry implemented a statewide version of Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy which both Barack Obama and Beverly Perdue sought to get rid of (Obama in June 2008 according to an e-mail I have, and Perdue with the selection/election of David Young). That set us up for the defeats in the 2009 municipal and the 2010 general elections.

      During the summer of 2010, Bev Perdue was telling other big donors to give directly to the candidates and not to the Party. Funny that she would say that when she picked Party Chair David Young.

      When David Parker won in 2011, the transactional donors were going away. David and Jay had to do more with less – and deal with the massive distraction of the DNC Convention being located in Charlotte. Too many folks were focused on the convention instead of building the party and getting out the vote! And people played ball with David until he refused to give his blessing to a statewide version of what donors and consultants foisted on Wake County Dems – then they unleashed Hell on him and the Party. Many people still consider those donors, consultants (and the electeds/candidates who listened to them) as being responsible for the cluster-flop that was 2012. Count me in as one of many who feel that way – and still do.

      Please don’t even question Randy Voller’s decency. He’s not the one putting out the “Valdmir Voller” twitter garbage, or making untrue personal attacks on his opponents or their staff. If you had talked with Randy or known his history, you would know that he is one of the most decent and honest people you’d ever want to meet. He speaks from the heart.

      I feel that the only hope to restore the Party’s long-tarnished image is to get the consultants and donors to shut the hell up and stop trying to re-do the Party election of 2011 because their candidate didn’t win. And to accept the fact that the grassroots is going to win in the end because the demographic point that way. And the only people killing off the Democratic Party in North Carolina are the big donors, consultants, and the candidates/electeds who listen to them.

      I don’t plan to encourage Randy to resign. I think it makes more sense (and more of a class move) to tell the big money donors, consultants and candidates/electeds to accept the will of the voting SEC members. How do I know? Because I’ve accepted defeats in elections I have run for, and have worked with candidates who have won (not always gracefully) that I didn’t vote for. I did that with Keith Karlsson when he won as Wake Dems Chair in 2005, and I did that with David Young in 2009. I didn’t agree with what they wanted to do with the party, and I damned sure didn’t agree with Young authorizing NCDP to pay Perdue $10,000 for her first-class upgrades and other stuff that her millionaire husband should have paid for. But I worked with them anyway.

      I will certainly tell Randy to vet candidates better. I will also tell him to hire better staff who are dedicated to the party and the state and to every candidate on the slate – not just to one candidate at the top of the ticket. I will tell him to hire staff who have had professional jobs in the past and won’t be disrespectful and/or insubordinate. I’ll also tell Randy to stick to his plans to reform the NCDP because the long term health of the Party is worth it!

      I would also tell the griffter con-artist consultants and their surrogates they will surely get their just deserts in the not too distant future.

      • Mark Hufford

        Well, Chris, you seem to have an answer for everything.
        Apparently you don’t recall the several times that you and I met. I helped Jerry in his campaign for state chair and was the first person hired under Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy. You seem to enjoy political history, so I would refer you to Bob Moser’s “Blue Dixie” if you want to read more about some of the tactics that worked well back then, and sadly have been tossed to the wind by successive Party leaders.
        I resigned my job with the Party and left North Carolina in 2007, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about what a mess things have become in a state I spent 20 years in.
        And I’m sorry, but you’re quite naive about how people treated Jerry both before and after he upset Ed Turlington and won the chairmanship. The difference between him and what I’m seeing today is that Jerry went out of his way to seek out different opinions and to truly involve others in decision-making. Even people who had opposed his candidacy for Chair. As he had done for many years as vice chair, he criss-crossed the state repeatedly so that he understood better than anyone the Party’s pulse. He involved people in making innovative plans that worked. They worked because people took ownership of them.
        You’re also a little misguided in how easily money flowed into the party back then. It did so because Jerry was diligent about call time and spent hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours fundraising on the phone and in personal meetings — the main job of the Chair. When the good old boys held back, he found new sources of revenue and, yes, he embraced the grass roots.
        We do agree on one thing — we’re a big tent party, but there’s no call for the bigotry you mentioned. Of course it sickens me to hear anyone make comments like that, and doubly sickens me when they call themselves Democrats.

  7. Mark Hufford

    Fascinating, and sadly, not all that surprising. Good reporting, Thomas. Holy cow.

    • Chris Telesca

      Thomas is not reporting – he’s blogging. There is a difference.

      But Thomas has raised an issue that many Democratic activists are concerned about: that some folks (consultants and others) are trying to get into the party coffers through manipulating our (their) connections with party officers or staff.

      No one is saying that all consultants are trying to do that. We are saying that some consultants are trying to do that. And when they don’t get their way, they don’t care if they destroy party officers or the party itself.

      Although some consultants are party officers, so their actions to manipulate connections and derail the party might just have a conflict of interest. Consultants should realize that while sometimes you are trotted out to clubs and auxiliary groups as miracle workers or mercenaries to be loved and cherished, no one elected them to do a damned thing in the Party. You may be hired by a party officer, or you may be hired by staff – but you don’t run the party. I don’t see a damned thing in the Plan of Organization that says I have to listen to a word that you say unless you’ve been hired by a party officer to do something that’s part of a strategic plan that an Executive Council or Committee votes on. Here in Wake County, we haven’t had a strategic plan worked out by the Chair who consults with the Executive Committee then brings it to them for a vote since May 2008. But we sure have hired us some consultants!

      I personally want to elect every Democratic candidate on the slate. But it’s not enough to elect them then let them serve only their big money donors. I want to hold them accountable for working to turn our party platform into public policy. And that would be a party platform worked out in the party from the precinct level on up so that it reflects more diversity than just the opinions of a privileged few folks who can write big checks.

      And I’d like to see more precincts and counties organized so that more Democrats can have a say in how our party functions and fund the party through many more recurring small dollar donations. Something which, by the way, was supposed to have happened already.

      The Taxpayer Checkoff Committee was hit up for grants by the Caucuses. But instead of just giving them the money, the TPC decided to loan them some money to be paid back once a recurring small dollar donor program was started up. And the TPC invested some money in the start up costs as well. Voller, Nesbitt, Hall and the majority of the TPC liked it – so why hasn’t the recurring small dollar donor program been started up? Because it would have adequately funded NCDP, the Caucuses and the Districts for GOTV – instead of starving the party and leaving control with the consultants and staff. That much was evident at the public meetings I’ve been to.

      Thomas – let me know when you get interested in covering what happened to the money the Taxpayer Checkoff Committee invested in the Small Dollar Donor Program. I won’t even try holding my breath because I doubt that such a grassroots program would interest you.

  8. H Leonard

    Many years ago I went from being a registered Democrat to Independent because I was sick and tired of both the Democrats and the Republicans. Both parties have been and still are in accelerating death spirals. The only real difference these days between both parties are that they like to waste time and money differently based on their own ideologies, and blocking the movement forward towards rational progress. The latest issue with Voller and the Dems is proof positive that the Democratic party in North Carolina is being sucked rapidly towards a black hole of irrelevancy, to be rapidly followed by the current Republicans.

  9. David Joyner

    Stay all over this. Both C’s are just what we need to capture the independent vote. Maybe Voller is an R. In any case, we don’t need him or his cronies!

  10. jwwilliamson

    Years ago a wily old mountain politician gave me this sage advice: “You can’t out-think a man who’s not thinking.” Mr. Voller currently fits that MO. He’s a catastrophe, and I’m afraid he’ll never hear the fat lady singing over the thrumming of his own ego.

    • MBrock

      Exactly. Good comment on great column. Thanks.

      • William A. Franklin

        Martha, wash your mouth, Consorting with white trash here.

        • MBrock

          Bill, If you don’t have any response to the facts presented by Mills, then I am going to ignore your childish name calling. I have discussed this with others who are more informed on the situation than I. They support Mr. Mills story.

  11. Paleo Tek

    The N&O is reporting that Vollermort is backing down on the Chavis nomination, “at least for now.” I think calling this a conspiracy might be an overstatement, something more like “corrupt machine politics by a gang of incompetents” seems more fitting. Can the NCDP be salvaged? It’s pretty obvious that the Party Chairman does not have the confidence (m)any except those he’s been feeding. It sounds like yesterday’s conference call must have been pretty entertaining, but really, isn’t it about time for the grownups to step in?

  12. Kimberly Moore-Dudley

    You’ve won the day’s award for smartest man in America. Amen.

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