Some of you know that I carried out a lengthy blog campaign in the summer and fall of 2006 against a secretive group of libertarian cronies of the Koch Brothers, going back AT LEAST to David Koch’s Vice Presidential campaign in 1980 with Ed Clark as the standard-bearer.
I phrase that last very carefully, because, even at the time, they were clearly working at Koch’s behest and paycheck and walked out of the Libertarian Party together a few years later. What I uncovered was what the mainstream media still can’t wrap their heads around: these guys spawn 501(c)3 charities and 501(c)4 “civic leagues” at a rate that would awe a rabbit.*
[* And, following the phony “IRS scandal” that the right wing flayed and pilloried the agency with for years, those organizations are, more or less, off limits to IRS scrutiny.]
But if you focus on the people, they keep showing up again and again and again.
And that’s where James Crumley comes in.
You see, there was this group that was completely opaque, called “America At Its Best“* that was slushing six figure donations into places like Nebraska, Arizona, Idaho and Montana from a Kalispell PO box.
AMERICA AT ITS BEST
PO BOX 1678
KALISPELL MT 59903
[* I’m going to indicate it in bold, to give the reader a visual anchor here, because there are a lot of NAMES here.]
And it seemed to be emanating from Montana or Idaho (just a good pickup truck ride one from the other). Sometimes an Idaho spokesperson would speak for them. Other times, a Montana lawyer.
At the end, every secret organization, from Montanans in Action to America At Its Best turned out to be a Howie Rich operation. (Or, if you prefer, “Howard S. Rich.”)
Finally, after the election, I was able to trace the PAC to a Virginia PAC that Betsy DeVos* had transferred to the groups surrounding Howie Rich of Americans for Limited Government. His ALG treasurer and later President, William Wilson turned out to be the chairman of America At Its Best. Wilson also happened to be THE best-compensated director in every related “charitable”/”civic league” organization Howie was attached to, and they were legion.
in 2006, America At Its Best laundered nearly $5 million of dark money
into state elections from Arizona to Montana, California to Nebraska
(* Yes, our current Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, of the AMWAY Devoses of Michigan had formerly used it for Florida campaign contributions in furtherance of her agenda of private schools and vouchers [tax dollars] to pay for students, just By the By. And Howie Rich is ALSO on the voucher train.
(Rich’s wife passed away earlier this year, and was also influential in the ‘movement.’ According to David Boaz in the Cato Institute’s blog:
As president of the Center for Independent Thought, the parent organization of Laissez-Faire Books, she also launched and managed the Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties and the Roy A. Childs Fund for Independent Scholars. CIT’s biggest project was Stossel in the Classroom, which repackaged ABC News and Fox Business videos on economics and public policy by John Stossel for classroom use. The videos have been viewed by tens of millions of high school students – according to Stossel, reaching more people than ABC News and Fox News…)
And there were three other names listed for America At Its Best: Laird Maxwell, ALG’s “agent” and spokesperson in Idaho; lawyer Duncan Scott of Montana (who I traced back to an Alaska libertarian campaign, a New Mexico “policy institute” and forward to Montana Tea Party prominence — all within the Howie Rich orbit) and someone named ‘James Crumley.’
Well, James Crumley WAS a genius Montana mystery writer (I particularly like Dancing Bear) who died in 2008 and did have some pronounced libertarian tendencies, but I could never nail down whether it was the same fellow. I kind of hoped he wasn’t. James Crumley the writer was a shamefully overlooked writer of astonishing gifts. He didn’t deserve to be linked to the shape-shifters tricking America in the name of “freedom.”
By the by, America At Its Best never filed another tax return and vanished from the Virginia Secretary of State’s database of registered PACs. Evidently it was only for that ONE campaign. The following year, after spawning Eric O’Keefe’s Sam Adams Alliance, and John Tillman’s Illinois Policy Institute (which they purchased from another fellow, and increased the budget tenfold, with the desks in the Wacker Drive offices never moving an inch from ALG to SAA; Tillman later moved to other digs with IPI) America At Its Best folded its virtual tent, and its director, William Wilson moved up from Treasurer to President of Americans for Limited Government who has continued to launch various initiatives, like, say, NetRightDaily (where they’re all squishy about Bill Wilson, gushing hilariously that he is: one of the most eloquent and powerful political figures of his generation), and free political cartoons from Liberty Features and The Daily Torch. Oh, and shaming voters via political mail.
And yesterday, reading the Washington Post, I finally solved THAT mystery.
Here is James Crumley:
James Crumley, who provides marketing services to conservative nonprofits and campaigns, was listed in an IRS filing as one of the directors. In a phone call, he initially said he did not remember anything about the group, including why it was formed.
“I can only speculate since I didn’t even remember this group existed,” he wrote in an email later.
Crumley said he’d learned that the group held no meetings and apparently had no bank account in its first two years. “The organization only existed on paper and didn’t do anything at all,” he wrote.
The Great Montana Writer is off the hook. But listen a bit further:
On July 21, 2014, the IRS approved the group’s application for tax-exempt charity status, which was also signed by [Ray] Wotring, the group’s secretary. In its application, the group said it would be nonpartisan and aim “to develop unbiased research on how government regulations on environmental policy can impact business.” The group by then had changed its address to a UPS Store in Fairfax, which was also used by Americans for Limited Government.
Howie Rich’s Americans for Limited Government? (Rich has left the BOD, but remains the longest-serving BOD member of the Cato Institute. Nearly the lone survivor of the Koch Purge of 2012. And he’s still on the BOD of US Term Limits and Club for Growth, etc. etc.)
DO go on:
The name was changed again in October of that year, to the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, according to records in Virginia. That same month, Whitaker, who had lost a primary bid for a U.S. Senate seat, became the group’s leader, according to Kupec, the Justice spokeswoman.
The charity’s mailing address was moved from Virginia to an office suite at a prestigious spot on K Street in the nation’s capital — a virtual office and mailing address shared by 200 organizations.
Kupec did not respond to questions about how Whitaker connected with the nonprofit.
Whitaker? You mean the guy currently acting as the Attorney General of the United States of America, Whitaker?
In the three years after he arrived in Washington in 2014, Matthew G. Whitaker received more than $1.2 million as the leader of a charity that reported having no other employees …
Ah. But what caught my attention was the name Ray Wotring, which I knew well from ALG’s tax returns. He had come to them straight from George Mason University, which is more or less owned lock, stock and barrel by the Kochs. Geroge Mason’s Mercatus Center is to their brand of libertarianism what BYU is to Mormonism — a sort of seminary embedded within a lay-seminary.
A Virginia resident named Raymond Wotring and two others filed papers to create the Free Market American Educational Foundation, state and federal records show. Its stated mission was to “conduct research and provide informational studies on free market concepts in relation to government regulations and policy.”
Wotring and one of the other founding members had also served on another conservative nonprofit, Americans for Limited Government, which shared the same mailing address, records show.
Served?* How about spokesperson and Treasurer? And on the Board of Directors?
[* I hate the passive verbs that reporters are so addicted to in these not-at-all-passive days, don’t you?]
This isn’t mere correlation WHEN you are familiar with the history. The odds of it being coincidental are pretty much the same as the odds that Lee Harvey Oswald was just cleaning his mail-order rifle at the Texas School Book Depository when it just went off accidentally three times, killing President Kennedy and wounding Governor John B. Connoly of Texas on November 22, 1963.
So, what we have here is …?
Howie and Trump. Hmmm.
Let me point out that Eric O’Keefe, former President of ALG, figured out how to beat a special investigation into HIS opaque finances in the Wisconsin recall elections by lawyering up, by packing the state supreme court and ultimately having the investigation shut down.
They even tried to have the prosecutors themselves prosecuted as a warning to any presumptuous state prosecutors not to EVER look under the hood of the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Eric O’Keefe, one of three directors. Club for Growth State Action? Formerly, at least, Howie Rich. Gee.
O’Keefe offered open advice to Trump on HOW to do just that.*
(* Not coincidentally, ALG’s press releases currently listed show no fewer than eighteen that directly charge Special Counsel Robert Mueller with various ‘crimes.’ Americans for Limited Government is rather rabidly partisan in their support for and defense of Trump.)
A lesson from Wisconsin’s witch-hunt: Shut down Mueller’s investigation
OPINION by Eric O’Keefe
February 28, 2018 07:00 AM
The discoveries in Wisconsin’s John Doe case and the Robert Mueller investigation teach the same lesson, unaccountable agencies have become powerful tools that partisan cabals can use to undermine representative government.
Disturbing revelations now appearing in special counsel Robert Mueller’s “dirty dossier” investigation of President Trump bring to mind a similar case in which political differences were criminalized and partisan prosecutors spied on Americans.
The parallels to today’s “dirty dossier” investigations are striking. Compare the leaders at the Obama-era FBI to officials at Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, GAB, who, our litigation revealed, designed and led attacks while hiding behind the equivalent of a special prosecutor. Like the Obama-era FBI’s view of President Trump, GAB evinced deep contempt toward Walker and his supporters — or “sheeple,” as one senior GAB staffer termed them. And like the FBI, GAB officials received ill-deserved reverence from the media to which they constantly leaked.
The John Doe abusers had national ambitions. We uncovered discussions by the prosecution team strategizing ways to silence conservative critics in the media, including Sean Hannity and Charlie Sykes, as well as to dig into the private business of Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, Paul Ryan, and Newt Gingrich.
The discoveries in Wisconsin’s John Doe case and the Mueller investigation teach the same lesson: Unaccountable agencies have become powerful tools that partisan cabals can use to undermine representative government….
The tone of Ultimate Victimhood is certainly a dog whistle for Mr. Trump. (And, hopefully for Mr. O’Keefe, Trump had forgotten that O’Keefe was one of two floor managers attempting to derail Trump’s nomination at the GOP National Convention in 2016, after having served a couple of years as coordinator for the Kochs’ initiative to kill Obamacare.)
But ask yourself this: why is it that this sudden “astroturf” group emanates from the orbit of these reptilian political shapeshifters to pay $1.2 million for Matthew G. Whitaker to move to Washington D.C. and make more money than he’d ever seen in Iowa? Given Whitaker’s message (shut down the Mueller investigation) and their angry pronouncements, can we doubt that his message and their desires coincided?
Given the shady past of these players and their seemingly consistent modus operandi, is it difficult to divine what Matthew G. Whitaker represents, and what it is that he is at the Department of Justice to do?
Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes
And NONE of this is conspiracy theory. It’s just straight up fact. Some conspiracies actually DO exist. Generally, ultimately, they backfire. I think that it is because the Universe as a process (and not a thing) is functionally antithetical to the manipulations that conspiracies attempt to restrain it by. Remember, the CIA conspiracy to find a mind control drug not only resulted in the chemical synthesis of ergot mold from rye seed but also to the dissemination of that synthetic extract to psychology departments as distant as Harvard and Stanford.
The synthetic version was called LSD and one of the subjects was Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest among other classics of NON-mind control literature. Whoopsies!
(Oh, and Timothy Leary and Baba Ram Dass, among others. etc.)
And isn’t that America At Its Best, after all? Are they not ALL honorable men?
At least now I know who James Crumley is.
[NOTE: A lot of this is covered at greater depth in “The State of Journalism in Nebraska.”]