by William L. Anderson: Civility…or
will remember the infamous Duke
Lacrosse case of five years ago when Durham County District
Attorney Michael Nifong falsely charged three lacrosse players from
Duke University with rape. What made the case extraordinary, however,
were not the charges per se, but the fact that they were
transparently false, and yet the mainstream media and the Duke
administration and much of its vaunted faculty ignored the evidence
to proclaim that they were true.
In the end,
the case fell apart because Nifong was caught lying, and the accuser,
a prostitute named Crystal Mangum couldn't keep her stories straight.
(And there is even much more that has not been told that many of
us know, including how Mangum came to choose these particular three
players, but that is something for another article.)
disbarred in 2007 and even served a day in jail for lying to a judge,
although the Bush administration blocked any further criminal investigations
of Nifong and others who took part in what clearly was a frame.
(Durham police officials and a nurse employed by Duke University
Medical Center fabricated documents and other statements in order
to bolster the case, but in the end it fell apart and North Carolina
Attorney General Roy Cooper declared the players to be "innocent"
of all charges.)
of this case, however, will not die, and the government has decided
that it has not victimized these young men and their families enough,
so the Obama administration's Internal Revenue Service has loudly
announced that it has levied a $6.5 million lien on the assets of
Reade Seligmann, one of the three people originally charged. According
to the IRS, Seligmann paid no taxes on a settlement that he and
the two others received from Duke in 2007.
the media has jumped on this one in an attempt to promote an "Aha!"
atmosphere. "See, we TOLD you these were dangerous people!"
The worst offender has been the Detroit News, which screamed
out in a headline: "Controversial ex-Duke lacrosse player
owes IRS $6.5M; lawyer calls it mistake."
York Daily News, which from the start of the case was pro-Nifong
until it no longer could stand behind the lying DA, was
not much better with its blaring headline: "IRS claims
former Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligmann owes millions, lawyer
says bill is mistake." The Raleigh News & Observer,
which was ground zero for the outright false and misleading stories
when the case first broke, jumped
on the story as well, including an inflammatory quote from a
local tax lawyer, Jack Cummings:
enough zeros there that somebody has bound to have thought about
it and decided that they didn’t owe any tax,” Cummings said. There
are tax exemptions for some financial settlements, though probably
not this type, he explained.
As you can
see, the mainstream media wants readers to believe that maybe (only
just maybe) Reade Seligmann was not a rapist, but he is a
tax cheat, and that should give us pause as to the first
set of charges against him. We knew it all along! He is an arrogant
guy who got away with rape and just decided that paying taxes was
reporters seem to be incapable of doing even basic research, depending,
instead, upon whatever pronouncements come from government agencies,
there are a number of questions and issues that I will bring to
the fore that have been ignored by the vaunted journalists. This
first is this: Reade Seligmann did not even receive $6.5 million
in his settlement with Duke, so the media and the IRS are claiming
that he owes more taxes than what he received in the first place
in 2007. (Granted, a lot of journalists want the USA to be more
like Sweden, which once taxed author Astrid
Lindgren at 102 percent.)
Yes, the settlement
was secret, but people talk, and the information was not difficult
to find. Furthermore, as Reade's attorney Jim Cooney has noted,
Seligmann did pay taxes on what he received from Duke. Keep
in mind that Cooney not only is a well-known and well-respected
attorney whom I know well, but also was recently recommended for
a position on the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (someone
else received the nomination from the Obama administration). In
other words, Jim Cooney's words carry a lot of weight, and when
the N&O implied in its story that he was lying, we can see once
again that getting an important story straight is not important
to that newspaper.
So, why would
the IRS publicly go after Reade Seligmann, especially if he can
prove that the agency is wrong? No doubt, the story that will be
spun is that there was some bumbling in the bowels of the IRS and
that someone just made an honest mistake, and the agency is sorry
for its error, blah, blah, blah. Such an explanation will fly with
the media, which will protect the agency at all costs.
is much more to the story of Reade Seligmann and the aftermath of
the Duke Lacrosse case that makes people like me suspicious of what
has happened. Let me explain.
settled with Seligmann, David Evans, and Collin Finnerty, the three
have filed suit against Nifong and Durham. Furthermore, a number
of other former Duke lacrosse players have
filed suit against the university for its reprehensible conduct
and for its alleged complicity with Nifong and the Durham police.
They also have filed suit against Nifong and Durham.
filed suit in federal court more than three years ago, but so far
nothing has happened, as Duke has managed to keep the whole thing
at bay. Duke's lead attorney is Jamie Gorelick, one of the most
important Democratic operatives in Washington and who served as
the number two person in the Clinton administration's Department
of Justice. If there is a prominent Democrat or Democratic entity
in need of a fixer, Gorelick often comes to the rescue.
is a private university, it also is a major player in the Democratic
Party, both nationally and in North Carolina. Furthermore, Durham
is the most important base for the North Carolina Democratic Party
and if ever there was a one-party entity, it is Durham, which is
one of the most hard-left municipalities in the country.
was president of Duke before being elected to the U.S. Senate in
1986 (and he served as a Democratic governor of North Carolina before
coming to Duke). John Burness, Duke's general "fixer"
in Durham and someone who made vicious and dishonest off-the-record
comments to reporters during the lacrosse case (which was one of
the reasons that Duke's lawyers felt compelled to settle with the
three falsely-accused lacrosse players), is returning to his position
as a prominent Democratic Party lobbyist in Washington.
Burness has just finished serving a term as interim president of
Franklin and Marshall College. Burness is proof that at least in
politics and at Duke University, no dishonest deed goes unrewarded.
Other faculty members and administrators that acted in an especially
reprehensive manner during the lacrosse case since then have been
promoted and honored, which demonstrates that while Duke's motto,
“Eruditio et Religio” [Knowledge and Faith] should be changed
to "We Reward Lying" or maybe the more informal, "Lies
It is no accident,
then, that Duke hired someone like Gorelick, and the fact that the
case has been dead in the water for three years seems to be proof
that the university and its political partners, the City of Durham
and Durham County, have received good services from their outside
legal counsel. This latest incident involving Reade Seligmann only
heightens the suspicion that this is not an act of mistaken zeros
by a bumbling IRS agent, but rather a concerted effort to discredit
someone that North Carolina Democrats see as a political enemy.
What Duke University
and Durham, along with the mainstream media, did to Reade Seligmann
was utterly shameful. The way that Duke subsequently rewarded the
worst offenders in this case, including promoting the most dishonestly
vocal faculty members to being deans and high-level administrators,
demonstrates that the
leadership of that university is proud of what it did. It is
proud of the fact that it managed to become the first university
in U.S. legal history to be cited in a change of venue document
that claimed the university created an atmosphere that endangered
the rights to a fair trial by the three falsely-charged lacrosse
involved in this case knows that Reade Seligmann does not owe the
IRS a dime and the truth ultimately will come out in official form.
However, in the meantime, Duke and Durham can enjoy watching him
be demonized in the media, journalists can get another shot at this
"controversial" young man who has managed to be well-respected
and well-loved wherever he has been, and Jamie Gorelick can make
more money billing Duke.
Like the Bourbons
of France who "learned nothing and forgot nothing," we
are seeing what "Progressives" do to people who manage
to fight the odds and proclaim the truth even when "Progressives"
are trying desperately to shout them down. Reade Seligmann is about
the truth; he always has been, and he always will be, and he truly
is a young man of very good character, and members of the Progressive
Political Classes in this country generally do not have the same
high level of moral fiber.
we will find that this all was an "innocent mistake,"
and that an agent just got some numbers wrong. Maybe Gorelick really
had nothing to do with this sorry episode. But, given everything
I have seen transpire in this case, from the original N&O fabrication,
"Dancer Recalls Details of Ordeal," (which is no longer
available) to how Duke has protected and rewarded the case's worst
offenders, you will have to excuse me if events like this make me
suspicious. Very suspicious.
L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him
mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland,
and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig
von Mises Institute. He
also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit