03 August 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment, Part VIIIb: America At Its Worst

part ii. How Green Was My Spring, or The Long Way ‘Round The Bed

Like the Platte River that bisects and defines the Nebraska plains, the money flows in from the West; and it exits to the East at Omaha -- like the Platte -- headed for Spring Green, Wisconsin -- unlike the Platte.

The legal disclosure documents filed with the Nebraska Accountability Office give this address:
PO BOX 279
And the papers filed with the Nebraska Secretary of State give this address for Renewal Voter Outreach, LLC:
Corporation Member

P O BOX 279
(Former State Tax Commissioner John W. Biehn, now in private practice in Lincoln, filed the papers and is the listed agent, the only other name on RVO’s public record.)

Tracking down Ms. Graves becomes a daunting task. First, who is she? Secondly, how is she connected to the two petition drives, and, more importantly, how is she connected to the money flowing from Montana?

Let’s review: $380,000 has gone to SOS Nebraska and another $355,000 has been donated to NE Humane by America At Its Best in Kalispell, Montana.

Between 6/28 and 7/11, AAIB will send three more checks to NE Humane totaling $480,000. Of that total, $435,000 will be paid to RVO, still using the PO BOX 6210 Omaha address.

Without throwing more numbers at you, we know that the vast majority of money given IN Nebraska has gone to the brand new “Nebraska” company of Leslie Graves, in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

We already know that America At Its Best is funded entirely by Howard Rich and friends of the peripatetic “Americans for Limited Government.” And we know that AAIB is led by Laird Maxwell in Boise, Idaho, but that monies have been disbursed to Laird Maxwell’s Idaho “This House Is My House” initiative from AAIB in Kalispell, and to Nebraska from Duncan Scott’s law office in Kalispell.

In Idaho, the “House” initiative has been mysterious because the money came from AAIB in Montana, and no one knew where AAIB was getting its money. But Missouri documents reveal that America At Its Best in Boise, Idaho sent $640,000 to “Missourians in Charge.” (While Howard Rich’s “Fund for Democracy” contributed another $1,658,000 to the failed Missouri petition drive “Stop OverSpending Missouri,” but that’s a tale for another day.)

Why the attempt to deceive? And, while it’s difficult to track the huge (relative to what these states usually see spent on initiative and referendum campaigns) amounts of cash involved, who is behind it -- and behind Howard Rich -- and why?

What is their connection?

Well here’s one: William Wilson, the treasurer and on the board of Americans for Limited Government is also on the board, treasurer or both (I’m quoting TPM Cafe here, to give credit to “mrs panstreppon,” whose legwork gave us the clues to crack this code. This information has all been verified independently, and we’ve carried it much further, but credit where credit is due:)

William A. Wilson, NAWER treasurer, is the owner of Associated Public Affairs Professionals, a consulting firm which was paid $15k by Gary Bauer's campaign in 2000. Wilson is associated with numerous conservative organizations. Here's a partial list:

US Term Limits
US Term Limits Foundation
Term Limits America PAC
America At Its Best
Council For Responsible Government
Parents In Charge (formerly Legislative Action Drive)
SocialSecurityChoice.org Foundation
She leaves out “Americans for Limited Government,” and there is the connection. Wilson’s address is his home address (we’ve looked at it on satellite -- it is about six blocks from the golf course at the Fairfax Country Club of Fairfax, Virginia), and it is the same on America At Its Best. According to Guidestar:
FAIRFAX , VA 22032
  • This organization is a 501(c)(4) Civic Leagues and Social Welfare Organizations
  • This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.
No 990s were available, and full disclosure of board members is only available to premium members. (Which is beyond our humble budget for this project).

If you go to the ALG, website, you will find Board Member William Wilson (It’s the same Wilson. We’ve cross-checked).

We will deal at length with Laird Maxwell and Duncan Scott another time. But, America At Its Best seems to exist, at this point, solely to launder monetary contributions. The cross-connections with Howard Rich and friends are voluminous (detailed in Parts III and IV).

So, we know WHERE the money is slushing into Nebraska from. But we don’t know where it is going. Let’s return to “Renewal Voter Outreach” and the sole member listed in the Nebraska legal records:
P O BOX 279
At first it seems intensely murky:

It is a common enough name that one must be very careful that one gets the RIGHT Leslie Graves. But the giveaway ended up being very simple. She has kept the same email and mailing address for several years (at least since 1998):
P O BOX 279
From the RVO webpage,

Renewal Voter Outreach is hiring people now to circulate initiative petitions in Nebraska. Please read our FAQs and then call 1-800-989-8521 or email us to learn more.

[The link on the email reads: mailto:LBGraves@aol.com]
That email address is the key to Ms. Graves’ past.

Leslie Graves has, for the past several years, been involved with a ministry founded under the aegis of Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life. You might remember Pavone. He was the priest who became the spokesman for the Terri Schiavo parents and relatives in the last week of the controversy in 2005. When Ms. Schiavo died, Pavone was the media spokesman for the family and the Catholic Church.

The VILLAGE VOICE reported in 2001


Over the last 12 years, Pavone has transformed his organization, Priests for Life, from a fledgling nonprofit into a multi-million-dollar operation. Its main purpose is to urge priests to be more militant in their pro-life activism. The organization also urges voters to pick antiabortion candidates and has launched a campaign to draw women who've had abortions back into the church. Pavone, who worked in Rome for two years, has been called the pope's "vicar for life" and serves on the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the Vatican's policy on abortion issues.
For several years Leslie Graves edited the “Rachel’s Vineyard” newsletter, and was a fixture at their seminars.

Here is her bio, evidently recent, although this seems to have been a 2004 workshop in Madison, Wisconsin:

Saturday, 10:00am - Workshop I

B. Philosophical Foundations of the Pro-life position - Leslie Graves

Leslie Graves facilitates Rachel's Vineyard weekend retreats for healing after abortion in Madison, Wisconsin and trains new Rachel's Vineyard teams throughout the country. She is the author of the newly published "Rachel's Vineyard: A Guidebook for Gardeners". Leslie taught contemporary moral issues for the University of Wisconsin philosophy department in the late 90s, where she won the Oliver Prize in 1998. She has published articles in the philosophy of science and art. Currently sidelined due to injuries, Leslie rowed as a Masters athlete for Nike in 1997 and 1998 and was featured in an ESPN documentary. Leslie says that her journey toward embracing the sanctity of life came after many years in the desert following her own experience with abortion.
There are multiple references to her email address LBGraves@aol.com and her mailing address: http://www.abortionrecoverydirectory.org/Wisconsin.html
Organization Name: - Rachel's Vineyard of Madison
Abortion Recovery Director: - Leslie Graves
Address: - P. O. Box 279
City: - Spring Green
State - WI - Wisconsin
Country: - USA
Zip: - 53588
AR Director Phone #: - 608-588-7834
Email: - LBGraves@aol.com
Hours of Operation: - varies
Website: - www.rachelsvineyard.org
Meantime, Rachel’s Vineyard is directly affiliated and/or controlled by Fr. Frank Pavone:

Frm their website http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/welcome.htm :
Dear Friends:

You have found a safe place to come with your pain -- a pain that you often feel will never go away. (sic) Here at Rachel's Vineyard, you will meet people who understand, because they are in the same position that you are. You will meet people who care about you and about the child (or children) you have lost. You will meet people who know the way of healing, and are ready to welcome you into that journey that leads to mercy and peace.

Whatever your religious faith may be, Rachel's Vineyard will assist you to find God's mercy for your abortion(s). Rachel's Vineyard can provide you the individual attention you need, as well as the retreat experience, by which you walk hand in hand with others on the road of healing.

Welcome to a new chapter of your life!

Fr. Frank Pavone
Chairman of the Board and Pastoral Director, Rachel's Vineyard
National Director, Priests for Life
What is not so well-known is that Fr. Pavone traveled with Schiavo’s parents to the Vatican later that spring, and was granted permission by Pope Benedict XVI to expand his organization. The press release from “Priests for Life” begins with:
May 13, 2005

Founder Dedicates New Pro-Life Society to Memory of John Paul II

Rome, Italy -- Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, announced today from his Rome office that the new Society of Priests he has been given permission to establish will be dedicated in a special way to the memory and teachings of Pope John Paul II. This announcement comes on the same day that Pope Benedict XVI announced that he has begun the process by which John Paul II could be declared a saint.
So, it certainly makes sense that a committed member of Fr. Pavone’s flock would be deeply involved in the drafting of the Nebraska “Humane Care” amendment.

But the group that surrounds Howard Rich are not noted for their deep affection for religion. At the first meeting of the New York Libertarian Party, in 1973, when Andrea Millen (later Rich) was elected the first NY LP Chair -- Howie Rich was one of two vice-Chairs -- the party refused to take a position on abortion. According to Murray Rothbard writing in the Libertarian Forum:
The final act of the convention underlined the good sense and even wisdom of the party membership. A proposal was made for the party to endorse legalized abortion. But while a large majority of the Party favors abortion-freedo, it decided by a 2-to-1 majority to respect the deeply held beliefs of those party members who are convinced that abortion is murder - a position which, for any libertarian, is not self-evidently absurd. In short, the FLP decided not to take a position on the abortion issue. (LF Vol. V, No. 4, April 1973)
The Libertarians -- and the group under Ed Crane that would split off at the 1983 National Convention in New York City -- have never particularly taken a position on abortion rights. There is a Libertarians for Life website, so the connection seems tenuous, at best.

But Leslie Graves has a long history within the specific group mentioned. As we researched, the connection moved from tenuous to definite, and, finally, to concrete.

Leslie Graves or Leslie Key was known in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the Chair of the Wisconsin Libertarian Party and as a National Delegate for several years.

Rothbard called her a “Craniac” and wrote about her several times in the Libertarian Forum. (Please note again that Murray Rothbard had his point of view which is not definitive. Certainly his opinions were and are strenuously opposed by others of that era, but what he writes in the Libertarian Forum of the era give us one lens into the tightly interwoven group that is still connected, and running these ballot measures that we’ve been investigating.)

From page 2 of the February 1983 issue of the LF, in an article entitled “THE CRANE MACHINE EXPOSED.” (Available at the von Mises Institute webpage) some excerpts:

Edward H. Crane III The Big Boss: capo di tutti capi. Main power base: Head of the Cato Institute, which moved from San Franciso to Washington, D.C. early in the Reagan Administration to be close to the Corridors of Power. Also, Boss of: Libertarian Review Foundation, and its publications Inquiry and Update; National Taxpayers Legal Fund; and the Crane Machine in the Libertarian Party. Formerly, boss of Students for a Libertarian Society, and formerly, National Chairman of the LP. Managed the LP presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980.
[Note: Crane is on the Board of Directors of ALG]
Howard ("Howie") Rich (New York businessman.) Top Craniac politico. Ran the disastrous Guida campaign for national chair in 1981, the equally disastrous Randolph campaign [for Alaska Governor] in 1982, and the likewise disastrous Northrup for Governor campaign in New York in 1982. Craniac straw boss (on LP NatCom.)
[Note: Rich is the Chair of ALG]
Andrea Millen Rich (Wife of Howie. Proprietor of Laissaz-faire Bookstore in New York, which has become a social center for New York Machiners. Banned the Libertarian Forum from the bookstore for being critical of the Crane Machine. (NatCom member.)
[Note: Published Eric O’Keefe’s book WHO RULES AMERICA? in 1999]
Eric O'Keefe (The Martyr.) Former National Director of the LP; when ousted, went to Alaska to help Guida run the Randolph fiasco. Present whereabouts unknown.)
[Note: O’Keefe is the Chairman of the ALG Board, under Rich]
David Boaz (Crane hireling. Vice-president, Cato Institute. Research director, LP Presidential campaign, 1980).
[Note: Boaz is still the VP at Cato.]
Robert Costello (formerly in California, now working for free-market investment letter in Chicago.)
[Note: This is the same ROBERT COSTELLO, 518 DAVIS ST, STE 201, EVANSTON, IL, listed on ALG’s 2004 990 as a Director.]

And, we find:
Leslie Graves (alias Leslie Graves Key.) Crane hireling. Former editor, now reporter, for Update. NatCom member. Boss of the Wisconsin LP, based in Madison, now rumored to be suffering a revolt from the long-downtrodden Milwaukee
Rothbard wrote more about Ms. Graves in several issues (at one point referring to her as “Madame DeFarge”), but this purloined memo reprinted by Rothbard in the August 1982 LF cements that there was a strong relationship between Graves and Crane and the old “Crane Machine.”
September 16,1981

TO: Chris Hocker, Leslie Key, David Koch,
and other Interested Parties
FROM: Ed Crane

What with all the changes going on these days I thought it would be appropriate to put down in writing some thoughts concerning the future of Update. To begin with, Dr. Hocker's new position as publisher of Inquiry probably makes it inappropriate for him to continue to be responsible for Update. This is true both because of the more than full-time job involved in getting Inquiry on its feet and headed in the right direction and because the magazine should not be directly connected to the libertarian movement (this despite the fact that it needs to become more explicitly libertarian in its editorial policy). Which means we're stuck with the lovely and vivacious Leslie Key who resides in Madison, Canada. (sic) I would recommend that she begin her responsibilities as editor of Update with the November issue. We could pay her, say, $500 a month for assuming this responsibility. David Koch has indicated he will kick in $10,000 to Update next year. If Leslie is very nice to him we might be able to talk him into $5,000 more (right, David?)....
You might recall from Ms. Glass’ bio that she was a rower. She still has a website referring to it at:


Welcome to Team Four Sisters

Team Four Sisters is a crew team consisting of Carie Graves, Leslie Graves, Tia Fisher, Alison Graves, and our coxswain, Hal Menendez. We're competing in the Nike World Masters , a two-week event that includes 20,000 masters athletes from around the world competing in 25 different sports.

Let me know what you think about my page. Send mail by clicking here.

(link is “mailto:lbgraves@aol.com”)
And they were even featured in an Associated Press article that made the national wires:


Shawnee, Oklahoma News Star
Saturday, August 15, 1998

Sisters doing it for themselves

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) -- Rowers call it "keeping your head in the boat" -- focusing on the task at hand, keeping time with your teammates and shutting out distractions.

Until this week, not only was Leslie Graves' head not in the boat, her whole body was far away from the boat, the water and any roads leading to it.

Leslie, 42, is the least famous of the four rowing Graves sisters, three of whom have been winning medals since their college days. Carie Graves, 45, was on the first University of Wisconsin women's crew team, and went on to row in three Olympics, winning a gold medal at the 1984 Games.

Alison Graves, 37, and Tia Graves Fisher, 39, rowed together at UCLA, and Alison later at Wisconsin. Leslie, on the other hand, was more inclined toward academics. She's pursuing doctorate degrees in philosophy and biology at Wisconsin.


Robert Graves, 72, now has converted the whole family to his sport.

"I can't imagine them just stopping."

Leslie gets the most cheers.

"The others are revisiting college glory days. For her, it's all new," said her husband, Eric O'Keefe. "It's been very invigorating for her. I loved her the other way also, and I never put any pressure on her to do that at all. But she feels great about it. She likes herself better now."
All of the links of the chain are now present. (Duplications and cross-checks have been eliminated for the sake of brevity.)

You see, Eric O’Keefe is the Chairman of the Board of Americans for Limited Government, who gave ALL the money to America At Its Best. America At Its Best gave all the money to SOS Nebraska and Nebraskans for Humane Care. And those two “grass roots” groups sent nearly all of their petition money to something called “Renewal Voter Outreach,” which is Leslie Graves, a\k\a Leslie Graves Key, a\k\a Leslie Key, a\k\a Leslie B. Graves. And Leslie Graves in Spring Green, Wisconsin, is Eric O’Keefe’s wife.

This is the same
listed on ALG’s 2004 990 as a director.

He might have just handed the check across the bed.



Anonymous Kevin Hayden said...

So you're saying this is just a money laundering scheme? A family business of hoodwinkery?

Is it illegal? (I know it ain't ethical).

8/05/2006 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger ed waldo said...

Nope. Read a little more carefully. Here, I'm saying that somebody got greedy, but the money laundering in the past has been to hide sources.

The Montana/Idaho situation is one of the Idaho "petitioner" laundering money back to himself from America At Its Best in Montana.

Read the other parts. This is about confusing you, and they've succeeded very well thus far.

Smoke and mirrors.

8/05/2006 08:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please send this to all of our Nebraska media. They have been reporting in bits and dabs on this but nothing this significant about the paper trail. My question always was: What does a tax-limit petition (SOS Nebraska) have to do with an anti-euthanasia petition (Humane Care)and why doesn't Neb. Accountability & Disclosure Comm look in to Renewal Voter Outreach, America At Its Best, etc? Are their hands tied? Just as they were when Americans for Limited Government came in and foisted term limits on the State? At least that one had a modicum of grassroots support.

8/15/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger ed waldo said...

The August 15 post is an answer to anonymous' question. Thanks for writing, A.

(oh, and happy birthday, Napoleon)

8/15/2006 09:23:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home