Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Victoria Peterson claims Jackie Wagsaff is making deals for personal gain as a member of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People
An audiotape obtained by the Rev-elution reveals possible conflicts of interest and back door deals by Jackie Wagstaff, Political Committee chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. The tape was obtained from a member of the Durham Committee.
On the tape, Victoria Peterson, who has run for numerous public offices in Durham, claims Wagstaff used her clout as a member of the Durham Committee for personal gain. The tape raises questions related to Peterson’s support for Wagstaff after she was censured as Political Committee Chair by the Executive Committee.
"I pretend like I support her, but how much respect do you really think I have for the girl,” Peterson says.
Peterson admits to paying Wagstaff $550 to get the endorsement of the Durham Committee in her bid for City Council. Peterson says Wagstaff failed to fulfill the agreement after Donald Hughes, her son, filed to run for City Council against Peterson.
"Jackie said if I got her some money, that she'd help me get the Committee endorsement,” Peterson says on the tape. "I gave her the money and she agreed to help me do some things in The Committee.”
The Durham Committee member recorded the conversation with Peterson without her permission. The informant claims Wagstaff has been questioned about making deals by members of the Durham Committee. When Walter Dalton was endorsed as Governor by the Durham Committee, the informant claims the Durham Committee had issues with Wagstaff being paid by the Bob Etheridge campaign to serve as a poll worker.
"Let's say you're a candidate, and you want to have people at the polls. You don't give Jackie $1,000 because she wheels-and-deals. She was getting paid by The Committee to push Dalton, but was taking side money from the Bob Etheridge's folks,” Peterson says. “This woman is a wheeler and dealer."
The informant alleges Wagstaff and then-Political-Chair Andre Vann bumped heads when Vann and then-treasurer Keith Bishop uncovered Wagstaff's plan of pretending to have countless people working polls for The Durham Committee by sending them to Vann and Bishop to be paid. The informant says Wagstaff was working a scheme to hustle the Durham Committee of finances.
Peterson’s comments supported the informant’s accusation.
"Girlfriend has been working deals, trust me. We (Peterson and Wagstaff) were supposed to be getting a Republican in The Durham Committee to run at-large three years ago in the City Council election.”
The informant questioned Wagstaff’s motives and state-of-mind after she fought to have the Durham Committee’s books audited by Republicans.
“The Executive Committee had a major clash earlier this year, due to Jackie Wagstaff wanting to have the Republicans audit our books,” The informant alleges. “The organization was fine with an audit, but strangely, Wagstaff, a registered Democrat, seemed Hell bent on having the Republican-led State Board of Elections audit The Committee's books.”
Peterson suggested that Wagstaff has an agenda.
"She's now trying to get up with Thomas Stith, to see how she can get paid to push a Republican agenda in The Committee, now that she is Political Chair," Peterson alleges on the tape. "The word needs to go out to all candidates, especially these white candidates, to not give her any monies.”
Comments made by Peterson should be judged critically. Can her assessment be trusted after standing as a devoted supporter of Wagstaff as Political Committee Chair? Should we take Peterson’s comments seriously and challenge her on efforts to manipulate the political system?
Is the real story regarding the release of the tape about Wagstaff’s contravention, or is it more about Peterson’s ongoing effort to press a Republican agenda within the Durham Committee? Or, is the real story about how divergent views have circumvented the work of the Durham Committee.
As damaging as Peterson’s comments play out, even more injurious is how the internal battles of an important organization curtail the mission to improve the lives of all black people.
You be the judge.