Pete's Prep: Thursday, April 12, 2018

Gantt  denies getting Greene's graft cards

The former Chairman of the Buncombe Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) says he is not the "then-serving County Commissioner" mentioned in the federal indictment against former County Manager Wanda Greene.

It's been about a week, and so far only two former Commissioners have publicly denied they received the embezzled gift cards from Greene.

The Asheville Citizen-Times has the story today:

"I am not the 'former commissioner' mentioned in the bill of indictment which charges Wanda Greene and her son, Michael Greene, of criminal activity," Gantt said in a statement Wednesday.

"I never received or used any county-issued Wal-Mart/Sam's Club (gift cards), or credit cards during my time on the Buncombe County commission. I have cooperated fully and will continue to fully cooperate with the FBI and the office of the U.S. attorney in their investigation of this matter. As part of that cooperation, I have testified before the grand jury and am available if further testimony is requested and/or needed."

Gantt - a lawyer - states he is not the commissioner mentioned in the indictment, so this would seem to address every incident mentioned. But he then states he never "received or used any county-issued" graft cards.

Were Greene's graft cards "county-issued?" Did he ever receive any gift cards from Greene?

I know this might be nit-picking, but Gantt is a lawyer and former politician. So, I feel like the words can be interpreted to leave him some wiggle room.

The report says former Commissioner Holly Jones also says she didn't get any of the graft, either.

Multiple attempts by the Citizen Times last week to contact the three other then-serving commissioners — K. Ray Bailey, Carol Peterson and Bill Stanley — were unsuccessful.

After a week?

Not good.

But the reporter - Jennifer Bowman - just updated this story!

Another former commissioner has denied ever receiving gift cards bought using public funds.

"I am not the commissioner mentioned in the indictment of Wanda Greene," K. Ray Bailey said in a statement Thursday. "I have and will continue to cooperate with the FBI, SBI and their investigation."

Bailey, who served on the board from 2008-12, also said he couldn't recall receiving a county-issued credit card, "and if one was issued, I never used a procurement card for any purposes."

So that leaves Peterson and Stanley.

Is this an apple or a banana?

Yesterday, progressive The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights tweeted this:


This is a great lesson in Narrative Building 101.

In this video, Vitter clearly states: 

"I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions which are correctly decided, and which I might disagree with. Again, my personal, political, or religious views I would set aside. That is Supreme Court precedent. It is binding."

Vitter is taking the position that any opinion she has about a Supreme Court decision is irrelevant because it's precedent. She's bound by the ruling.

This is also not a new concept.


If Vitter answers this question... ANY ANSWER... she opens the door to offer her opinions about every other Supreme Court decision.

Let's pretend she replied, "Absolutely! I agree with the Brown v Board Education decision. It was great."

And then Sen. Blumenthal says, "What about the Heller decision?"

Or the gay marriage ruling.

How could Vitter refuse to offer her opinions of any Supreme Court rulings if she offers her opinion of one?

Simply put: it was a trap.

An the Leadership Conference is using it to marshal forces against her. It doesn't matter what her opinion actually is. All that matters is whipping up the outrage machine to block her appointment. And if it requires smearing her as a racist - so be it.

And CNN was happy to spread this narrative:

CNN plays its part in the narrative building

From the CNN story:

Wendy Vitter, one of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees, refused on Wednesday to say whether a landmark civil rights opinion was correctly decided, triggering outrage and renewed criticism of the President's efforts to reshape the judiciary.

At issue was Brown v. the Board of Education -- a seminal opinion that held that state laws requiring separate but equal schools violated the Constitution.

The headlines promote the idea that she was refusing to answer whether desegregation was good or bad. She wasn't.

The clickbaity headlines stir the outrage and lend credibility to the smear ("CNN is reporting it! It must be true.")

The body of the article goes on to explain how this is a common approach in confirmation hearings. But it's obvious virtually none of the progressives commenting on the Leadership Conference tweet or the CNN tweet are aware of this long history.

So, is this headline an apple?

Or a banana?

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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