And it actually paved the way for the sham lawsuit itself:
Through the SCV, the UNC System directed its $74,999 payment into the hands of Sara Powell, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division Inc.
Those funds incentivized Powell to cut her own deal on behalf of the UDC, allowing the SCV to “turn around and sue the (UNC System Board of Governors), so we could settle it and give them $2.5 million,” one person close to the UNC System's board said.
It's like when you detect a suspicious odor in your fridge, and then you discover a container of ancient leftovers hidden behind other stuff. You think it smells bad before you open the lid, but then you're gagging and racing it outside to the trash can. There are so many aspects of this case that stink, but quite possibly the worst one is the effort to avoid/evade scrutiny by the Attorney General's office. The UNC Board of Governors gave away a pile of cash so they would be forced to give away a much bigger pile of cash. Forget the damn statue for a moment; that activity alone is enough to have that Board completely replaced, or at least all the Board members who were involved. But don't expect BergerMoore to lift a finger. And don't expect the Board of Governors to police itself, either:
Sturges confirmed the $74,999 payment’s purpose was to pay off the UDC for Silent Sam, appearing to misconstrue which documents his team had already released publicly.
“I can, I have it right in front of me, but I mean, that was used to pay the UDC for their right, title and interest in the statue,” Sturges said.
When Sturges was asked to share his legal documentation of the SCV’s $74,999 payment to the UDC, he responded, “Well, unfortunately I probably can’t do that. But anyway, I’ll talk to you later."
Jim Holmes, one of the five UNC System Board of Governors members involved in the SCV negotiations, said he couldn’t comment because of ongoing litigation with DTH Media Corp., the parent company of The Daily Tar Heel, which alleges that the board violated the state’s Open Meetings Law when meeting about the $2.5 million Silent Sam settlement.
“I don’t want to avoid anything,” Holmes said. “There will be a time when I will answer any and all questions out there, and the bright light of sunshine will make everybody see the logic, but I can’t talk about any of it right now."
I have a feeling his reticence has more to do with keeping Judge Baddour in the dark about all of this than the DTH lawsuit, as said judge is supposedly "reviewing" that agreement right now (unless he finished that review and I missed it). Whatever the case, no amount of "sunshine," however bright, will make this mess seem logical.
Can't praise DTH enough
This story would be completely different without the coverage from the Daily Tar Heel. It might not even be a story anymore, just a footnote.