Terms of Unlimited Endearment, Part IV, The Friends of Howie Rich
"The political process no longer represents the people -- it represents money. It's been bought. While we were being sold a bill of goods about how the market 'empowers' us because we get to choose between the mint-flavored and the cinnamon-flavored toothpaste, thus expressing our individuality, we lost something important in our vision of a just society...."Our Story So Far: In Part I, we established that a shadowy group, allied ofttimes with Grover Norquist, was funding multiple ballot initiatives in multiple states. In several, like Nebraska, Oklahoma, California, Idaho, Oregon and, perhaps Montana, Michigan, Missouri and Nevada, they were supplying over nine dollars in every ten to hire professional out-of-state petition collectors, with unprecedented amounts of cash, to qualify their initiatives.
Molly Ivins - 7-13-06
Those initiatives fall into several categories, the main two being slick eminent domain (Save our Homes) measures and slick "TABOR"-style "Stop OverSpending" (SOS) initiatives. They are also behind a Terri Schiavo style law in Nebraska, a school voucher law in South Carolina, some sort of judicial recall initiative in Montana, and others.
And, this year, as TABOR so wrecked Colorado that the voters repealed it, Measure 37 --passed in 2004 -- is gutting Oregon's land-use planning, and is now in a version being pushed in several other states, including Idaho funded with a huge influx of Howard Rich/ALG money.
In Part II, we showed you one of their initiative subcontractors, Aron Political Consultants, who qualified measures for the ballot in Oregon, California and Nevada.
In Part III, even as the regional and national media began to connect this all to a face in New York, one Howard S. Rich, a/k/a "Howie" Rich, we established that, at least in Montana, one Rich-controlled group, "America At Its Best" was laundering money into Nebraska and Idaho from an ex-New Mexico state senator's law office in Kalispell, Montana, and wondered if "Montanans in Action" was funded from the same source.
We showed you how, through several astroturf groups ("astroturf" = "fake grass roots")-- including Americans for Limited Government, the Fund for Democracy, U.S. Term Limits, America At Its Best, and others -- the money was being shuffled around to make it look as though Howard Rich was contributing less than it actually appeared.
So, while the national media attempts to catch up, never quite asking the next question (no one has yet reported on the Nebraska campaign finance document disclosing that ALG supplied ALL funding to "America At Its Best" to the tune of $2.3 million), it's time to take this to the next level.
We have a face, sort of. Howard Rich has a very few images available on the internet. And we know that he lives at 73 Spring Street, New York City, 10012. But there is still more to this story than meets the eye.
Part IV: The Friends of Howie Rich.
On July 13, Capitol Weekly published a report by Shane Goldmacher, entitled
New York developer's eminent-domain crusade comes to CaliforniaAs readers of this column already know, the tally of states, and of cash in the Capitol Weekly is low. In fact, Rich's "Fund For Democracy" kicked off the Prop. 90 campaign with a straight-up donation of $1.5 million. (So far.) At LEAST Mr. Goldmacher didn't just stop with the "an Illinois-based organization" for ALG, which is where most media have thus far stopped. I'll tell you WHY ALG has that Chicago suburban address later on.
... Through a web of organizations, Rich is backing eminent-domain initiatives in Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma and Washington with $4 million --though no state has received as much financial support as California. In each of these efforts, Rich himself is never disclosed as a major donor. Instead, he steers his contributions through nonprofit intermediaries, such as the Fund for Democracy, which he is using to finance California's Proposition 90 campaign.
But WHO is Howard Rich? That's the question that no one seems to have asked. The Capitol Weekly piece is recommended -- as far as it goes. But there's a whole lot more.
In the photos from Thomas Szasz's (pronounced, "sauce") 85th Birthday Party, Howie Rich looks more than a little like Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons," sitting in a suit with a lavender shirt and matching lavender tie.
He's third from the left. The rest of the photos (with better of "Howie" Rich) are at:
There are several photos of his wife, Andrea Millen Rich. http://www.szasz.com/andrea1.JPG about whom more later. And pay special attention to the photo captioned "Ed Crane, President of the Cato Institute, gave a final toast to Tom." It's important: http://www.szasz.com/crane1.JPG
To make sense of this, it is necessary to take a little trip back in time to 1982, where a major dustup and schism within the Libertarian Party ranks was underway -- in a strange historic irony, in Billings, Montana.
The document I quote from is obviously skewed to a specific point of view.(I am not providing the "Craniacs" point of view, because it isn't important to what we're covering. Be certain that they have a point of view, however.) What you need to see is who is on Howie Rich's side of the controversy. From a report by The Libertarian Forum, vol. XV, no. 7, September 1982.
"On Sunday, August 8, in Billings, Montana, only a few miles from where the imbecile General Custer got mowed down at the Little Big Horn, the National Committee of the Libertarian Party held one of the most dramatic and significant meetings in its history. Eric O'Keefe, ex-radical turned Craniac National Director, was ousted from his long-held post by National Chair Alicia Clark. Alicia's right to fire O'Keefe was upheld by the NatCom by a vote of 17-11, after which it was approved by 20-7 Alicia's naming of former Texas L[ibertarian] P[arty] Chair Honey Lanham as interim Director for a six-month period."[You can access the complete LIBERTARIAN FORUM in .pdf form from 1969-1984 at http://www.mises.org/journals//libertarianforum.asp ]
(The term "the Crane Machine" is prominent over several months of the FORUM, as well.)
Eric O'Keefe is a name that shows up today as the treasurer of Americans for Limited Government. It is, as we shall see, not only the same Eric O'Keefe, but the O'Keefe who's been leading the charge on school vouchers in South Carolina, under the name of yet ANOTHER group, "LEAD Foundation."
South Carolina's THE STATE newspaper carried a story on June 11, bylined AARON GOULD SHEININ, that reported, in part:
[Howard] Rich is president of U.S. Term Limits and is a major sponsor of national school choice campaigns. He is also active in the libertarian Cato Institute.And, in a 1/3/05 story, STATE reporter Claudia Smith Brinson reported:
Efforts to reach Rich were unsuccessful.
U.S. Term Limits has the same address as the LEAD Foundation, the nation's top school choice advocacy group. LEAD also has the same address as Americans for Limited Government, the registered agent of www.scrgov.org, the Web site for SCRG [South Carolinans for Responsible Government].
During the 2004 elections, the Michigan-based All Children Matter paid for radio ads and mailers here that promoted candidates supporting tuition tax credits.That O'Keefe and Rich were thick as thieves (pardon the colloquialism) in 2006 is not surprising. They were prominently linked in 1982, as well. From that same LIBERTARIAN FORUM:
"Our current focus is in South Carolina," says the Web site home page for LEAD Foundation in Washington, D.C. LEAD stands for the Legislative Education Action Drive, a conservative group supporting tuition tax credits.
Several factors turned LEAD's attention south, said Eric O'Keefe, president of both. First was Sanford's gubernatorial campaign. "School choice became an issue, and it didn't seem to hurt him" during the campaign, O'Keefe said.
But the most revealing ranting of the day was emitted by Howie Rich, possibly the top Craniac straw boss on NatCom. In her explanation of why she fired O'Keefe, Alicia had mentioned that Eric had repeatedly failed to carry out NatCom and her own directives to: expand much-needed internal education, help build state parties, and assist in fund-raising.The Crane being referred to here is, Edward Crane III, the founder and President of the Cato Institute, on whose board Howard Rich sits to this very day.
All these three vital areas of activity were grievously and consistently neglected by O'Keefe, despite Alicia Clark's epeated urgings. What he had done instead was to devote virtually all Headquarters' resources to campaigning, particularly to assisting the Craniac ventures of Howie Rich's Campaign of '82 and especially the Randolph race for governor of Alaska. In the course of his philippic, Howie Rich thundered that all these other matters were "peripheral," that only campaigns really counted. Evidently, ideas, principles, state parties and even financial stability could go hang. There spoke the naked, sinister voice of the Crane Machine.
While you may not yet know what this means, surely at this point we can draw some conclusions. First, that these folks have been connected and working in league at LEAST since 1982 (or 24 years, now) if not longer. And, secondly, even at that early date, there were accusations that the only thing they cared about politically was winning, by whatever means necessary.
Oh, and the most vehement opponents of the O'Keefe sacking (today, Eric O'Keefe proudly lists "former National Director of the Libertarian Party" on his bios. He does not mention that he was tossed out on his ear) are listed as: "The seven opponents were the hard-core Craniacs: Herbert, Hocker, Johnston, Key, Palm, Andrea Rich and Howie Rich."
Undoubtedly, they had their point of view. But the charges leveled at them in 1982 seem eerily familiar in 2006. Ed Crane and Eric O'Keefe also are board members of Americans for Limited Government, which has been donating all that money in Nebraska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington State, Missouri, Arizona and Nevada.
The first pattern that we saw emerging in these reports was one of interlocking groups funding similar initiatives through multiple astroturf organizations, all emanating from Howie and Andrea Rich's townhouse in New York, at 73 Spring Street.
The second pattern that emerges is that the same players show up over and over again on each other's boards, at each others' parties, and in each others' political campaigns. Rich writes glowingly of an O'Keefe book published by his wife Andrea's (recently sold) company, Lassaiz Faire Books in 1999, WHO RULES AMERICA? (77 pages):
"Eric O'Keefe wrote the plan that produced a term limit sweep across the country in 1992 and 1994 establishing term limits on legislatures in 18 states and a strong national movement to limit congressional terms. In this book, he outlines a new strategy for Americans to take back Congress from the career politicians."Andrea has her OWN astroturf group, as well:
--Howard Rich, U.S. Term Limits
Center for IndependentEric O'Keefe writes papers for Ed Crane's Cato Institute.
Thought, New York, NY
Andrea Rich, President
And they're all Presidents and Chairs and Board Members of a dizzying array of "groups" -- and so on and so forth until one becomes dizzy just trying to follow the endless interweaving of monied, ex-Libertarian radicals.
And all of them left the Party in 1983 -- O'Keefe, Crane, Rich and Rich and others -- evidently together. Crane had run the most successful campaign the Libertarians ever mounted, Ed Clarke's Presidential campaign in 1980.
Term Limits was where this series started, with Paul Jacob (whose radio spots are syndicated through ALG and who formerly headed USTL), and Rich's money coming back into Oregon to RE-introduce term limits (as they're doing in Michigan and other states as well). And USTL, ALG and, evidently, LEAD all have the same address (an office building near a golf course in Glenview, Illinois, if you use Google maps to view the satellite shot). And lord knows what else. There seem to be more organizations that this old confraternity of ex-Libertarians run than there are ex-Libertarians to run them.
The office of USTL and ALG in Illinois is, by the by, in the suburb in which ALG "President" (as opposed to Chair Howie Rich) John Tillman lives (and has his OWN astroturf group, http://www.socialsecuritychoice.org. Tillman is currently the ALG "donations" point man, and most (though not all) ALG monies are disbursed from that address: 240 Waukegon Road, Glenview IL 60025. Earlier, when O'Keefe was handling the exchequer, the disbursal address was 504 E Madison St, Spring Green, WI 53588 (phone book listing). Spring Green, Wisconsin, coincidentally, happens to be where Eric O'Keefe lives.
National Review, March 9, 1998
"USTL president Howard Rich was involved in Ed Clark's 1980 presidential bid on the Libertarian Party ticket. Cato Institute president Ed Crane sits on USTL's board of directors. ALT president O'Keefe was on Cato's board for several years. Jacob is a former national field coordinator for the Libertarian Party who served nearly six months in a federal prison in 1985 for refusing to sign his draft registration card."Another pattern: In the case of Paul Jacob (formerly Chair, and now spokesman for USTL), Jacob has listed USTL at a Virginia address, which is ALSO the address given for yet ANOTHER astroturf organization "Citizens in Charge" or CIC -- which attempts to get ALL US states to adopt initiative and referendum laws, so that, one presumes, the endless ex-Libertarian cabal can start back-dooring the legislatures in the NEW states as well. The address is clearly a residence (as I learned from tracking it on Google Maps' satellite photos). And from the smallness of the trees it seems a relatively new subdivision in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.: 2617 Pheasant Hunt Road, Woodbridge, Virginia, 22192.
This is nothing new with this gang.
Let me ask the question now: if this is on the up and up, then why the endless mix-and-match of organizations that always claim "grass-roots" support, but often seem to have as few members as they have many dollars? By their fruits ye shall know them, and these ballot drives seem to be the poisoned fruit of the poisoned tree.
In the case of Measure 37 in Oregon, the state has already lost, by one estimate, $3.5 billion that it can ill afford, but Howard Rich and Ed Crane and their cronies don't have to pay for the consequences in the other states they're sponsoring it in. They only pay for causing the trouble. And their ideology, while strongly held, seems not to care for pragmatic considerations. An irony, when you think about it. They left (or were kicked out) of the Libertarian Party in 1983 because of their pragmatic win-at-all-costs approach, and yet, that approach is invariably applied to potentially disastrous ballot initiatives that have never been attempted in the "real" world. They are mere figments of ideology -- and, if, as in the case of Colorado's TABOR, they prove disastrous to Colorado and its voters repeal it, they shrug, turn their back on the evidence and reintroduce it, as they're doing this year in Nebraska, Washington State, Idaho, Maine, Oklahoma, Nevada, and other states.
(We will talk about that ideology another time. This is already complex enough without bringing Ayn Rand SuperGeniuses into it.)
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I am attempting to "sample" some of the Gordian knot of connections that crop up in what can only be termed an electoral initiative conspiracy spanning decades. When you shoot a research pinball into this political machine, so many lights and bells go off that you can take your hands off the flippers. The ball isn't escaping the board any time soon.
One last example. Let's fast-forward to the 1990s. From COMMON CAUSE Magazine:
The money behind the movement: term limits is touted as a grassroots uprising. But guess who's paying the bills?http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1554/is_n2_v19/ai_14702168
Amy E. Young
... In early 1992 Howard Rich bought C[itizens for] C[ongressional] R[eform]'s assets -- mainly a mailing list and some office furniture -- assumed its liabilities and set up shop as US T[erm] L[imits]. The group contributed $1.8 million to various 1992 state term-limit campaigns, while members of its finance committee kicked in another $119,700 in personal donations and loans. USTL's donations went for petition printing, signature gathering and, late in the campaigns, advertising. The group also provided political advice to the campaigns, emphasizing local coalition building and paid media ...
For the most part, the financial backers of these groups remain a mystery. Of the 14 states that passed term limits, only Michigan law requires out-of-state organizations that donate to political committees to disclose the sources of their funds. A close look at documents filed last year by Michigan's Vote Yes on Proposal B committee, however, sheds some light on USTL's backers. According to the records, less than half of USTL's $370,000 contribution was in small donations, while $102,940 came from the Howard Rich Irrevocable Trust; $60,000 from OKE Associates, a business partnership of USTL finance committee member Eric O'Keefe ....
They've been playing these electoral stunts for at least 13 years (odds are a lot longer, but 13 years is what can be immediately and undeniably proven).
What is their agenda? It's undoubtedly as complex as their endlessly incestuous interconnections. Certainly a big part of it is permanent tax cuts, abolishing the estate tax, separating "schools and government," (abolishing public education), shrinking government; privatizing Social Security, initiatives in all 50 states, term limits, and the unlimited "free market" accumulation of capital. Those agenda items are irrefutably part of the mix. (The visible portions of the agenda read like Ayn Rand on steroids.)
Ed Crane's CATO Institute is currently being heavily endowed with ExxonMobil money to convene "global warming is a myth" panels and symposia. And that's only one example. There's oodles and oodles more. (e.g. the ultra-conservative Scaife foundations and the John M. Olin Foundation have provided a huge chunk of CATO's funding.)
Crane, Tillman, Jacob and Rich are on record as signatories to an October 2005 manifesto entitled "Kill Malarial Mosquitoes NOW!" supporting bringing back DDT -- claiming that DDT is necessary to "exterminate malarial mosquitoes.*"
[*Which features quotes like this: "Physician-author-medical researcher Michael Crichton has said the de facto ban on DDT to control malaria 'has killed more people than Hitler,'" and "in the nearly half-century since Silent Spring was written, no connection between DDT and cancer, birth defects or any other human malady has ever been scientifically demonstrated. The only documented environmental effects of residual DDT are possible reproductive harms to raptors, including thinning of their eggshells, and even these have not been demonstrated conclusively."]
Thomas Szasz -- whose awards shows the Riches host annually, and whose birthday parties the Riches and Mr. Crane attend -- is a leading Libertarian contrarian in psychology, claiming in his manifesto: "'Myth of mental illness.' Mental illness is a metaphor (metaphorical disease) .... As Americans before us have eventually replaced involuntary servitude (chattel slavery) with contractual relations between employers and employees, we seek to replace involuntary psychiatry (psychiatric slavery) with contractual relations between care givers and clients."
And so forth. But they also like to keep a goodly portion of that agenda (and their checkbooks) hidden, as well. That much is certain.
As is this certain: There is no reasonable doubt that Ed Crane and the CATO Institute are up to their eyeballs in this electoral shell game. Howie Rich is only the masthead on this pirate ship of state. (Or, perhaps it is his wife, Andrea, who lists herself on speakers' bureaus, and evidently serves as toastmaster at many of their events.)
To quote John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006): "The modern Conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
Howie Rich and his fraternity of free-marketeers sure seem to have come a long way from that Libertarian dustup of with the "Crane Machine" in 1981 and the "Craniacs" in 1982/3.
Or have they?
Let me leave you with this:
The STATE (South Carolina)Courage.
Follow the mystery money
By ROSS SHEALY
Sat, Jul. 01, 2006
... your average Missourian apparently doesn't appreciate this sort of out-of-state puppetry. Despite being amply subsidized, Missourians in Charge failed last month to garner the support necessary to adequately petition for ballot initiatives to amend the state constitution. The group subsequently engaged the Missouri government in a lawsuit.
Even though I'm pretty sure I've never set foot in Missouri proper, it all sounded eerily familiar - a tax organization with a misleadingly local name, in reality subsidized from New York, and failing to demonstrate any semblance of the grass-roots it purports to have.
If it rings a bell for you too, there's good reason: The Fund for Democracy was set up by libertarian multimillionaire Howard Rich ...."