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Justice Denied
11 years ago
please sign and pass on to all of your friends, thank you, Paul
please read the whole story on the web
11 years ago
Naked Ambition Charlie Condon is a driven man, but just where is he going? BY BRETT BURSEY -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- POINT has been watching Charlie Condon for some time. It's hard not to; he seems to be on television every time you turn around. But beyond the sound bites, the public knows very little about this man. And that's exactly how he wants it. Two years ago, POINT sent Condon's office a request for an interview. The response: "This office always cooperates with members of the legitimate media. The attorney general is declining your request... We know that the tiresomely liberal staff of POINT disagrees with him on many issues, such as maintaining the noble tradition of The Citadel and ensuring the rights of infants not to be born addicted to crack cocaine. POINT's monthly yowling notwithstanding, the attorney general is doing the job the people of South Carolina elected him to do. And he believes that while he represents the majority of South Carolinians, your publication does not." Condon is not just inaccessible to POINT, he is notoriously unavailable to the "legitimate" media other than through staged events. His colleagues say he is generally aloof, and is seldom in his Columbia office. He works either out of his million-dollar home on Sullivan's Island or in an office rented from the city of Charleston that isn't listed in the state directory. The most the author got from Condon directly was a brief handshake (no smile, fleeting eye contact) as the candidate emerged from filming a campaign commercial. While Condon's voice, regrettably, is absent from this profile, his record speaks for itself. And the stories family members, colleagues and former political opponents tell about Condon reveal a man driven to make it to the top, at all cost. On a brilliant fall morning recently, Attorney General Charlie Condon rose to the podium on the south side of the State House and provided the perfect picture of the man and his politics. Supported by a choir, a band, the governor and an audience inflated by members of his staff -- who were sent a memo encouraging them to attend -- Condon pronounced October "Domestic Violence Awareness Month" and testified to his commitment to supporting the victims by standing tough on criminals. What makes this picture of Condon so revealing is its other side. Like a surreal mirror image, another rally against domestic violence was taking place on the other side of the State House. The event had no choir, no band, no governor. It was sponsored by a coalition of some 30 South Carolina groups that work with battered women. They had been invited to be props in Condon's show but were not offered a meaningful role, according to Susan Higginbotham, director of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA). "In other states, the attorney general doesn't have his own event; he joins the advocacy groups in theirs," Higginbotham said. "We wanted to have a solemn event, not participate in someone's political campaign." Condon doesn't have a working relationship with the members of the coalition, and often even works against them in the legislature. During the last legislative session, for instance, he called for chemical castration of repeat sexual offenders. SCCADVASA and other victims' advocates oppose chemical castration, saying it is a political gimmick. "The issue is violence, not sex," Higginbotham said. "Chemical castration is not a cure, and may make offenders more violent." Although Condon placed Higginbotham on a review committee to satisfy a federal grant requirement, she said he has never sought her advice on policy matters and has never acknowledged her letters offering to help shape productive legislation. "His true interest," Higginbotham said, "is in getting a good clip for the evening news." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "The Condons are Irish, but I think Charlie has some Russian in him, because one day you can be in his inner circle touting his five-year plan, and the next day you're in the Gulag." Bill Runyon, Charleston lawyer -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Condon grew up in Charleston the third of nine children. His father, Joe Condon, was the youngest of three brothers who ran Condon's Department Store. Condon's Catholic-Irish great-grandfather started the family business as a dry goods store in 1896. Charlie Condon's younger brother Danny said that working in the store is a rite of passage for the Condon kids. "Charlie worked here in high school and summers in college," he said. He described his brother as having always been "driven." Condon attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through college. A contemporary at Bishop England High School remembered him as cut-throat, even then. "Charlie was the kind of kid that would take his brothers' friends in a second." Condon graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame in 1975, and received a law degree from Duke in 1978. He met Emily Yarborough at Duke, where she was in medical school. The two married and have four children. Condon worked for a year with a Columbia law firm before being hired as assistant solicitor for the Ninth Circuit in 1980. A few months later, Condon was running for solicitor. Capers Barr, who had been the solicitor for four years, was retiring, and Robert Rosen, an influential Broad Street lawyer and Democratic Party power broker, chose Condon to be Barr's successor. Condon was a Democrat with a good Charleston family background and a fine education. He was an attractive candidate, but there was one problem: Condon was against the death penalty. Prevailing wisdom said that you couldn't get elected solicitor if you wouldn't execute people. Attorney General Cha
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