He seems a careful man. There's not a displaced hair on his head or his Groucho Marx moustache. His clothes are also impeccable -- brown loafers, an unobtrusive bow tie and a perfectly ironed shirt with the initials AMG embroidered on the pocket. The same initials are stamped on the vanity plates of the black corvette parked below the window of his Bellevue office complex. AMG stands for Alan Merril Gottlieb, a name a lot of environmentalists, gun control advocates and members of congress wish they had never heard of.
Despite appearances, Gottlieb is a buccaneering entrepreneur with a remarkable knack for cashing in big on right-wing causes. "I am," he says, "the premiere anti-communist, free-enterprise, laissez-faire capitalist," He is also:
Gottlieb carries his power and responsibilities nonchalantly. Coming out from behind his desk for our first interview, he gives us a firm handshakes, seats us comfortably and offers coffee.
"I've put everything on hold so take as much time as you need," he says affably. He is as good as his word, refusing all messages and phone calls for a nearly four-hour interview during which his energy never flags. If anything he becomes more animated as the interview progresses. "That was fun," he says at the end, and agrees to three more half-day sessions.
Gottlieb describes himself as "a very private person," so his decision to grant these marathon interviews is surprising. Although Gottlieb appears on radio and television newscasts and or shows on an average of about once a day, he generally talks about gun or environmental issues and rarely about himself.
Gottlieb's communications empire is headquartered in a two-story, L-shaped building hidden in a pleasant grove of fir trees on the Bellevue Redmond Road just south of the Coca Cola distribution complex. The property, which King County assesses at $696,000, is all Gottlieb's. In addition to the one anti-environmental and pro-gun non-profits, Liberty Park houses these three other Gottlieb organizations:
David Williamson, who as a national spokesman for the Nature Conservancy is no friend of Gottlieb's, calls him "a direct-mail genius." "I know political skill when I see it and I respect it," Williamson said in a telephone interview.
Nearly everybody gets direct-response mail, letters from charities, political campaigns and all sorts of other causes asking the recipient to mail back a donation. Often they appeal to one's charitable instincts or sense of civic responsibility. This is not the tack that Gottlieb takes. "The letters he composes," says Outside magazine, "are not long on subtlety or literary polish, but they are extremely adept at pinpointing the recipients' deepest anxieties and eliciting floods of righteous indignation."
Gottlieb does not disagree. In Trashing the Economy, the 1993 book he and his co-author, CDFE Vice President Ron Arnold write with startling frankness that:
"The message of the direct mail letter must appeal to three base emotions; Fear, Hate and Revenge...
"[The] fund raising mailer must present you with a crisis -- a problem won't do...That crisis must frighten you...If you are not frightened, you won't send money...
"Then the direct mail letter must present you with a bogeyman against whom to focus your anger...
"Once you've been frightened and made to hate the bogeyman, the successful direct mail appeal must offer you a way to get revenge against the bogeyman -- the payoff for your contribution. The more soul-satisfying the revenge, the better the letter pulls.
"All this must be dressed up in an appeal that appears to have a high moral tone, but which -- without you realizing it -- works on your lower emotions."
Gottlieb and Arnold are describing environmental direct-mail pitches but Arnold in an interview on Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, also told us that "in direct mail, fear, hate and revenge go a long way."
Apparently deception also goes a long way. In June 1994, Gottlieb sent a mass mailing that appeared to come directly from Rep. Philip M. Crane (R) of Illinois, though the postmark was Bellevue. The envelope bore a replica of the Congressional seal and in large, bold letters identified the sender as: The Honorable Philip M. Crane Rep. Crane, Member of Congress. The return address, however was Bellevue.
The letter inside bore Congressman Crane's signature.
"Dear Friends," the letter started off, "I recently asked Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, for the names of a few selected Americans with whom I could communicate directly on a matter of great importance to our gun rights.
Yours was one of the names Alan gave me.
Will you join with me and U. S. Senators Bob Dole, Orrin Hatch, Trent Lott, Don Nickles and other distinguished Americans as a member of the National Advisory Council of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?
After telling the reader that "over a 100 members of the United States Congress serve" on the advisory council, the letter warns in upper case that "ANTI-GUN FORCES NOW CONTROL THE WHITE HOUSE AND BOTH THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE UNITED STATES SENATE."
"I'm amazed," reads another paragraph, "that many gun owners I talk to don't seem to understand that handgun ban laws are the first steps toward stripping Americans of their right to own and use all firearms."
The Crane letter contains an intimidating questionnaire which, among other things, demands an "X" before one of two questions:
 YES, I'll help you in this urgent battle by rushing you my most generous contribution today: [$20 to $500].
 NO, even though the powerful "ban the gun" crowd is at this very moment mounting an attack on my gun rights, I can't join your National Advisory Council
Gottlieb's direct response letters often contain surveys with loaded questions like:
Would you use a gun to protect yourself, your family or your home from armed attack?
"Most anti-gun advocates claim that gun owners are primarily responsible for violent crime, do you agree?"
Gottlieb's letters may be blunt, but they work. He says he mails out 25 million direct-response letters every year and that recipients mail back $24 million. His costs, at 27 cents per letter, are $6.75 million, which means his mailers net $17.25 million. Put another way, $2.25 comes back for dollar invested in direct response letters. Gottlieb may have had these figures in mind the time he told a reporter that "All I have to do is turn the spigot on and the money just flows."
Of the $24 million that his direct mail marketing nets, $5.5 million goes into to Gottlieb's three foundations. Another $6.6 million goes to associations (outside of Liberty Park) for which Gottlieb is either a director or a board member. These include ultra-conservative groups such as the American Conservative Union, Young Americans for Freedom, American Political Action Committee and the Council for National Policy. The remaining $12 million in direct response revenue is raised for clients who contract for his services. Gottlieb prefers not to name them though they most probably consist of conservative organizations and candidates. Gottlieb also generates income from publishing Wise Use and anti-gun control books. The Free Enterprise Press (CDFE), and Merril Press (a for- profit operation) together carry 16 titles. Gottlieb told Eastsideweek that he sells a total of 200,000 copies annually. The retail cost of the books, which are distributed by Merril Press, ranges from $9.95 to $19.95 a copy. Gottlieb did not reveal his total book revenue but did mention the profit margin on one of his titles was 50 per cent. If this holds true for all his titles then his book profits would be well over a million dollars a year. However the CDFE 990 (Exempt from Income Tax) form for 1993 shows that revenue for Free Enterprise Press, which publishes three quarters of the titles, was only $30,615.
Gottlieb raises only a pittance -- $339,289 in 1992 -- for CDFE, the mother organization of Wise Use. That same year, The Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, garnered $2,318,804, and the Second Amendment Foundation $2,533,427. Gottlieb also profits by traveling the country and giving political-action and fund-raising seminars to Wise-Use groups at fees of up to $3,000 a day. He instructs the groups on how to conduct direct-response cash drives of their own, as well as how to recruit new members and use the media.
Alan Gottlieb has come a long way from the unpromising kid who grew up in Los Angeles and Queens. He was born a first child to Seymour and Sherry Gottlieb on May. 2, 1947 in Los Angeles. The Gottliebs were not a very political family. "My dad worked for the government in a very, you know, minor position for the Department of the Army, a warehouseman," Gottlieb said. "My family basically were Democrats. I can't say they were liberal Democrats, 'cause they didn't even know what liberal meant, or conservative meant. It was just the way it was."
The Gottliebs lived in Maywood, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. Seymour managed a Cub Scout group and a Little League team and Alan belonged to both. He was, said his dad, a very good player and "he still loves baseball."
In a telephone interview, Seymour described his son as "Happy-go-lucky, really not troublesome, you know. And, ah, pretty smart."
When Alan was ten, the Gottliebs moved back to the neighborhood in Queens where they had come from and where many of their relatives lived. Seymour again took a warehousing job with the military. Alan attended Public Elementary School 205 and later Nathaniel Hawthorne Junior High School. He was a lackluster student, according to his mother, Sherry. "He never applied himself" she says tartly, and then more resignedly, "Listen, he was okay. I wasn't looking for a genius."
She wasn't looking for a rebel either. "I was a fussy mother," she says flatly. "You had to be clean, you had to be neat. You had to follow the rules of the house. When he was a teenager, there was always a curfew. I wanted to know where he was and who he was out with."
"My mother was fairly strict," Gottlieb confirms, "but she lightened up after my brother came." Not, however, before she had dunned into Alan that neatness counts. Gottlieb's Liberty Park desk, like his dress, is a paragon of tidiness. Take that permanent stack of paper on his desk. It's at least two-feet high and the sides are absolutely vertical without one page even a quarter of an inch out of line. He knows what is in the pile and where, too, because in our first interview it took him about 15 seconds to extract a one-page document he wanted to show us.
As Alan neared high school graduation, he started getting serious about himself and his world. He put up campaign signs for John Lindsay who was running for mayor, and began worrying about how he was going to get into college. "I guess everybody grows up," his mother says.
"He wanted nuclear engineering," Seymour said, "and you know, with that average he had from high school...in the high 70's [laughs]. But he was adamant about going and he took the [ACT] exam [at the University of Tennessee]. He did very well and they allowed him to go. Actually, he has a photographic mind. That was his problem. He didn't do much homework because he knew what he had in his mind already and so it wasn't really worthwhile doing homework."
According to Seymour, Gottlieb's photographic memory is nearly perfect, which may explain how Gottlieb knows where things are in his two-foot pile of paper and the interlocking activities of the six organizations he runs.
Gottlieb enrolled at the University of Tennessee in 1966 when the Vietnam War and student protests were heating up. His mother believes the anti-war movement's tactics shocked her son so much that it turned him into a conservative. "I think it was all the riots that were taking place on campus with the Vietnam War," said Sherry. "He disapproved of the manner in which they were rioting and carrying on."
Seymour says that the rioting was part of the reason for his son's conversion but that "mainly it was the SDS in school, the Students for a Democratic Society, the communists...You know they wanted to close the school at one time, and he didn't like that because here was his father working two jobs so he could go to college...So...Alan and a couple of other students...instituted a suit...and they had the school kept open. And that's when he turned, at that time, because he was a tremendous liberal before...Liberalism to him wasn't any good anymore because if they could do what they did by just opening their mouths, it was just a little too much. "
Although Alan disapproved of students protesting the Vietnam War, he was no more anxious than they were to get into it. "We kept him out of it," says Sherry. "Yeah, we got him into the National Guard. My husband did." Seymour says he, "didn't exactly get him into the Guard, but you know, I worked for the government and a lot of sites had openings."
Alan joined the U. S. Army National Guard in 1968 and was assigned to a Nike-Hercules missile site on Long Island near Farmington. He served only one weekend a month and an annual two-week training period, so his tour impeded little on his other activities . These included joining William F. Buckley's Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative political organization that supported the Vietnam War.
Buckley, according to Seymour, had heard about Alan's role in forcing the University of Tennessee to remain open. "He asked him (Alan) to come to New York for a talk and they did," Seymour recalled. Seymour said that Alan joined the YAF at Buckley's request in 1969 and organized support for a war he did not intend to fight in himself. He worked hard at it, too, and the very next year he was elected to the YAF's national board.
Gottlieb faced a crisis in 1971 and he says that more than anything else it transformed him into the conservative activist he is today. He graduated that summer, after a five year course, with a degree in nuclear engineering and couldn't find a job because the U.S. Department of Energy was scaling down its new nuclear energy projects.
Gottlieb took the government cutbacks personally. "I got involved [in conservative causes] because I watched government picking on me and my future," he says bitterly. "Nuclear energy was the wave of the future to insure an energy-free and independent America. Here I am with a dream, my father works two jobs, my parents go into debt for it. I bust my tail in college and lo and behold, the rug is pulled out from underneath me. Ultimately by government, by government getting involved in my life."
That same year, 1971, Gottlieb was working as a press secretary for Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee "It was a pretty boring position," recalls Gottlieb, who was unhappy because, of all things, there wasn't enough to do: "I had this guy who got 80 percent of the vote, and he says, 'Alan, the less they know better.' Well, great, what am I supposed to do? -- 'Do whatever you want.' So aside from instituting a lot of organizational things in his office, it was a lot of dumb things like when anybody had a birthday, they got a birthday card from the Congressman."
In 1972, Young Americans for Freedom gave Gottlieb a bigger job, this time in Seattle. He was responsible for running the eleven-state region for YAF. He also directed the national office of an ad-hoc YAF group called the Students Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Gottlieb recalled,"...I saw there was a vacuum and a void, in the gun movement, there was the NRA and at the time, it was 1971, early 72, at the time the NRA didn't have a registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C. The NRA considered that lobbying was that you write an article in your magazine and that ...would get... [the readers] all excited and [they would] write Congress. And congress never got such mail in their life and it was considered to be successful."
Guns now became an important part of Gottlieb's political life. His Students Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms started to take up so much of his time that Gottlieb was asked in 1973 to split it from the YAF. In his office in Liberty Park, he recalled that "I got YAF to change the name to the Citizen's Committee, and when the Citizen's Committee became bigger than YAF, YAF felt a little awkward... So what YAF did was, like-- 'Alan you're trying to build something bigger than the parent organization... How about you go independent now?'"
The parting between the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Young Americans for Freedom was friendly, though Gottlieb did have to repay some funds to the YAF, since he had brought nothing to Seattle except a degree in nuclear engineering and a lot of organizing energy.
Gottlieb, as the sole incorporator, created the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the first of his three non-profit organizations, on January 30, 1974. The articles of incorporation show the purpose of the CCRKBA (possibly the most awkward acronym in America) is:
To operate exclusively for the purpose of defending the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, to provide aid and information to people throughout the United States who may desire it to assist them in achieving and maintaining the realization of the goals of the organization.
In 1986, after a bitter lawsuit over Gottlieb's management of the organization, this purpose was amended to read:
The corporation is to operate exclusively to defend human and civil rights secured by law, specifically the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution."
With the 1986 amendment of the articles of incorporation, the word "membership" was removed from the incorporation papers by Gottlieb's board of directors. Other changes turned the CCRKBA into a corporation. What this means is that there are no members of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. It is simply a corporation that receives donations without extending any rights to participate in the operation of the corporation: a committee without members that asks for money.
So what is the purpose of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms? In a June 15 article this year, Seattle Times writer David G. Savage wrote that gun ownership is not a Second Amendment right. He went further and quoted former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger as accusing the National Rifle Association of perpetuating a "fraud on the American people" by asserting an individual Second Amendment right to gun ownership.
In the entire history of the United States, a Second Amendment issue has gone before the Supreme Court only once. That was in 1937 when two bootleggers were caught crossing a state line with a sawed-off shotgun. The Supreme Court rejected the argument that the law which they had broken violated the Second Amendment. The court found that the Second Amendment pertained to the states' right to raise and maintain armed forces, not a personal right to possess a sawed-off shotgun: "...we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument." Since that case, all claims of an individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms have been rejected by the courts.
The lack of an individual right to possess arms is a great source of fear among gun owners. If the individual right does not exist, it is technically possible that slowly increasing the stringency of gun regulations could ultimately ban all private gun ownership. The result has been that some politically active gun owners have fought tooth and nail to prevent any and all new gun laws, in the fear that some day in the future, all guns will be outlawed or taxed so heavily that most people will not be able to own one.
From this position, sometimes called the "slippery slope argument", it is not a very large step to another interpretation: the real intent of the Second Amendment was to authorize revolution and rebellion. In The Rights of Gun Owners, Gottlieb wrote, "The Founding Fathers had an abiding fear of government. At the time the Constitution was drafted they had just concluded a long and bloody war against one form of tyranny. However, they were equally concerned about the kind of government they had just established. Their concern was that a centralized federal government could evolve into a dictatorship."
At the same time he became a member of the YAF's national advisory board and the national treasurer of the American Conservative Union, positions he still holds. The American Conservative Union is one of the New Right groups, like the YAF, that sprang into being out the Goldwater presidential campaign. Founded by 100 right-wing, anti-communist conservatives, an ACU statement of principles supports "capitalism... [as] the only economic system of our time that is compatible with political liberty." Closely allied with the YAF through the Conservative Political Action Conference, the ACU lobbies Congress on conservative issues and publishes "scorecards" so the rest of the country will know how well congressional members have responded to conservative pressures.
At the same time as he was making the Citizen's Committee a thing of his own, Gottlieb formed two other companies in his fledgling empire. The Citizen's Committee was a 501(c)(4) non-profit, a tax-exempt classification that allows lobbying, but donors can't take a tax deduction for a contribution. When individual contributions are deductible, they are usually a little larger. Gottlieb's Second Amendment Foundation solved this problem with its 501(c)(3) status, which allowed contributors a tax deduction. Like the Citizens Committee, the SAF has Alan Gottlieb as its sole incorporator. Forming a second organization gave Gottlieb a way to solicit donors twice. He estimates that this overlap in the two organizations is about 40%. Like the Citizens Committee, the Second Amendment Foundation has no members, only a board of trustees.
For the business of actually handling the mail, Gottlieb formed Merril Associates, a private firm comprised solely of himself. Merril Associates is not incorporated, it is just Alan Gottlieb. Merril Associates was briefly registered with the Secretary of State as a commercial fundraiser, but filed only one report in 1985. In 1994 an audit discovered that Merril Associates had not registered for nine years. Gottlieb requested that the registration be canceled, since he was now exempt. Merril Associates, which is to say Gottlieb himself, receives and holds assets, such as mailing lists, at Liberty Park.
In 1976, Gottlieb established the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. It was intended to fight the Carter administration's regulatory posture, "protecting free enterprise and private property rights", as Gottlieb put it. Like all of the other non-profits, the sole incorporator was Alan Gottlieb.
The purpose of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise is described in Article IV of the incorporation documents: "...to engage in... [the] study of... governmental regulatory bodies and their interaction with business; engaging in... litigation which tests the constitutionality of legislation and administrative rulings affecting the freedom of individuals to operate in the marketplace...." In short, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise exists to oppose all regulation that might stop anybody from doing whatever they wanted in business. In 1984, eight years after it was incorporated, CDFE would become the spawning ground for the anti-environmental Wise Use Movement.
With Reagan's election, CDFE went into a decline. Reagan ushered in new policies and personnel that gutted federal regulatory efforts. Arranging the pens on his desk in a saw-tooth pattern, Gottlieb remembered, "Reagan came in and all those policies changed and the need for the Center to be involved in that area was diminished. ...we grew rather fast in [Carter's Administration] and then watched ourselves, both in activities and finance and everything, decreasing."
For Gottlieb, good times for the Republicans were bad times for at the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. Gottlieb's "bogeyman" of "alphabet soup" regulatory agencies had been vanquished by Reagan. Success can be a bad thing for fund-raising efforts based on fear, hatred and revenge. With Reagan in the White House, there was little to fear, the federal government was no longer hated (at least not by CDFE members), and the revenge had been achieved with Carter's defeat.
In 1982, Gottlieb purchased the Liberty Park property in conjunction with the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. It was a typical move of the go-go years under Reagan. Many leveraged buy-outs were financed by takeover artists gaining control of a corporation, selling the assets to themselves and then leasing it back at a hefty profit. In 1983, William E. Simon, a former U.S. Treasury Secretary, pulled a classic maneuver of this kind. His Wesray Corporation and some directors of Anchor Glass formed the Anchor Glass Container Corporation. Anchor borrowed money and then re-loaned it to Simon and his friends. They used that money to buy the land and buildings of various glass plants. The plants were then leased back to Anchor at a hefty profit, all perfectly legal. By 1989, Anchor was sold to a Mexican company which immediately closed four plants in California, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi.
In 1982, the Bellevue property that Gottlieb would call Liberty Park was purchased from the Buchan Brothers Construction Co. The statutory warranty deed, dated June 1, 1982, lists the purchasers as the "Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, a Washington Non-Profit Corporation; the Second Amendment Foundation, a Washington Non-Profit Corporation; Alan M. Gottlieb and Julianne V. Gottlieb, husband and wife." According to records at the King County Department of Assessments, the sale price was $760,000. Liberty Park was assessed in 1983 at $630,000.
On November 7, 1982, The SAF and the Citizens Committee filed a Quit Claim deed that gave Alan and Julie Gottlieb the buildings on the property. On the same day, Alan and Julie Gottlieb filed a Quit Claim Deed that gave the land to the SAF and the Citizens Committee. Now the Gottliebs owned the buildings and leased office space to each of the non-profits at around $4,000 a month. According to documents filed with the IRS, the lease agreement "includes requirements for payments of property taxes, insurance, maintenance and other related expenses by the Foundation during the term of the lease." This property deal would later become the subject of a legal order at the end of a bitter lawsuit between Gottlieb and some disgruntled employees.
In February 1983, Gottlieb got an all expense paid trip to Jamaica to attend a conference put on by CAUSA. CAUSA is Spanish for "cause", but it stands for the Confederation of Associations for the Unification of the Societies of the Americas. Founded in Mexico City by Col. Bo Hi Pak (Rev. Sun Myong Moon's chief lieutenant) and Kim Sang In, the former Korean Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Mexico City, CAUSA was the Rev. Moon's multinational anti-communist and political organization. CAUSA served as the vehicle for Rev. Moon's funding of the New Right, as well as for supporting the Reagan administration's military build-up and its cause celebre, the Nicaraguan contras.
Gottlieb says, "The only thing I ever did with CAUSA was attend one of their conferences. I was invited to, all expenses paid, a conference in Jamaica [in February, 1983] that discussed the threat of communism in South and Latin America and had leaders from all political persuasions, all parties, all religions, all sorts of ministers.... About the only thing I remember was that my seat-mate next to me was Eldridge Cleaver."
Gregory McDonald, who was Executive Director of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and Executive Director of the Second Amendment Foundation, says otherwise. In a lengthy telephone interview with Eastsideweek, McDonald said, "Bo Hi Pak was in our office several times. ...in '83." McDonald says that Pak was in the Liberty Park office "at least four times, that I can remember."
"I was introduced to him, briefly, once, just as I was walking down the hall," McDonald recalls, "But they would go into Alan's office and the door would be closed. He'd come in a limo and have with him, oh, three or four Korean people and they'd go into Alan's office." McDonald says that he did not know what CAUSA was until Gottlieb sent him to a conference: "He sent me down to San Francisco, in August, three weeks before I was fired [from SAF and CDFE] to attend it and I left in disgust. ...CAUSA or Causa, however it is pronounced, it is scary. It is an indoctrination session. And they had people staking out every table. ...I was offended. I thought it was manipulative and brainwashing. And I thought it was-- There was just too much money, too much stuff for it to be legitimate. I didn't want any part of it, so... [we] left the meetings."
Most people know of Rev. Moon as the leader of the Unification Church, a religion that accords him divine status, holds mass weddings, and has a reputation for being a mind-control cult, but he is much more than that. The entire story on the Moon organization is yet to be written, but suffice it to say that rather than a being just the spiritual head of a religion who has been frequently quoted as wanting to establish a theocratic empire that would control the world, Rev. Moon is the quasi-chief of state of a multi-national organization that has all the characteristics of a nation except territorial sovereignty.
Many people have attended the conferences that Moon sponsors as part of his education and outreach. Implications in the press that participation in this one conference implied a relationship with the Moon organization rankle Gottlieb: "That's exactly what bothers me the most, "he said. "You know, here, the liberals are supposed to be tolerant, right? Who are against discrimination. I'm not going to discriminate against anybody on a religion when we are working on a political issue, because of a crazy religion they might have, and personally, I think their religion [the Unification church] is extremely crazy. OK? The bottom line is that's their business and I'm not going to discriminate against them on their religion. But here I'm attacked for refusing to discriminate against them because of their religion. By the so-called liberal press, which is where most of the criticism is coming from. You know, which is so hypocritical that it is unbelievable. I could care on [sic] their skin color or their religion and here I'm getting attacked for my association with somebody because of their religion. Not my religion!"
CAUSA is not an explicitly religious organization, though a watered-down version of the Unification religion, called Goddism, has been a part of the CAUSA program. The criticism of Gottlieb based on his association with Moon organizations has been political, not religious. Pressed on the point of the Moon organization's high political content, Gottlieb admitted, "The part that gets publicized is the part with the high political content."
The way that Gottlieb sees it, all of the attention to the Moon organization and Wise Use has come from the environmentalists. He explains the mention of the Moon ties as, "...other journalists will read the environmentalist publications and take that and regurgitate it, pop it back. ...I think part of the reason that it hasn't done a whole lot is-- Our people on the whole, that we deal with, are used to constantly being beat up on [sic] the media, to begin with. When you get beat up, it becomes a badge of honor and a badge of courage."
Shortly after the February 1983 Causa conference, 1983, Gottlieb became involved in a watershed gun-control controversy. A proposed federal law would make armor-piercing pistol ammunition illegal. Gottlieb, as president of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, opposed the legislation. The ammunition in question was dubbed "cop killer" ammunition because the Teflon-coated bullets could penetrate the equivalent of four Kevlar bullet-proof vests. The bullets were popular with some sports shooters because of the higher muzzle energy and velocity. These features give the ammunition a longer range and flatter trajectory. This made them very attractive for silhouette shooters, who aim at small metal targets over relatively long ranges. The lubrication provided by the Teflon was also supposed to cause less wear and tear on gun barrels.
Gottlieb, in his role as the national chairman of the Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, was quoted in the Seattle Times as saying, "Most people who propose gun control legislation know absolutely nothing about guns or ballistics." Gottlieb's position is very straightforward: he is against gun control. "It's not that we're against protection for cops," Gottlieb said, "but this is a backdoor approach to gun control."
Law enforcement authorities, which had been allies of the gun lobby, took a stand in favor of the new law. In the same Times article, Sgt. Fred Hill of the Seattle Police Department stated, "It's an emotional issue with policemen because they feel it's one more thing that can be used against them." The law banning the armor-piercing ammunition passed. With this debate, the separation of police groups and the gun lobby began.
Gottlieb sees his role in gun issues as having an influence on the NRA. "I'm kind of the gun lobby's lobby. I prod them a whole lot. What happens is that things get innovated here and the NRA is then forced to copy it. A good example is the whole woman [sic] and guns issue. Other examples could be making the gun movement more of a civil-rights type thing, than a politically sportsmen's, you know, sportsmen's use of guns. We've made it more of civil rights debate," he explains.
The following year, 1984, was not a good one for Gottlieb. For openers, a federal grand jury indicted him on two counts of filing false income tax returns and neglecting to pay $40,000 in taxes for 1977 and 1978. He eventually admitted to underpaying by $17,000. He was fined $5,000 and sentenced to 366 days in a minimum security jail in Spokane. As jails go, it wasn't a bad place and anyway he was released every morning to do work-release fund raising for the local YMCA.
The branch director of the Spokane YMCA, Mary Harnetiaux, told Eastsideweek in an telephone interview, that according to long-time employees: "History and legend has it, that as they recall, he was part of a work release program from Geiger Correctional. He was here to put together a [fundraising] campaign, but nothing came of it. He was here a very short time, less than three months and he didn't spend a lot of time in the building."
Meanwhile back at Liberty Park, things were happening that would make jail time seem like a paid vacation. In Gottlieb's absence, seven employees had been going through his books and had concluded that for some time he had been mismanaging the Second Amendment Foundation. Speaking in a telephone interview, Greg McDonald, former head of the SAF, told how he and all the SAF employees attempted "ask the court to appoint a court receiver to manage the foundation."
On Labor Day of 1984, the cops were called to Liberty Park after a scuffle broke out between McDonald's faction and Gottlieb family members. McDonald's group had filed a summons and complaint that day requesting that Gottlieb show why a receiver should not be appointed. Later, when more information came to light, they filed federal charges against Gottlieb for "racketeering and conspiracy to defraud" contributors. One of the issues that came up in the trial of was the purchase and subsequent transfers of ownership involving the Liberty Park property. The court battles continued when Gottlieb was released from jail in March of 1985, with time off for good behavior. Gottlieb filed a countersuit charging McDonald and the other ex-employees with defamation. The trials and appeals lasted 18 months, but in the end Gottlieb emerged victorious. Not only that, but the court dismissed the charges by McDonald and the others with prejudice and they had to cough up $30,000 in damages. Gottlieb, who knows how to crow, says his ex-employees paid for his black Corvette with the AMG vanity plates.
Early in 1984, a man contacted Alan Gottlieb with an idea looking for a sponsor. The man was Ron Arnold and the idea became the Wise Use Movement. The initial letters are always capitalized, just like a good commercial slogan.
"He [Arnold] came to me with the Wise Use stuff and in sitting and talking with him a light bulb went on over my head," says Gottlieb. Gottlieb, the consummate capitalist, recognized an opportunity when he saw one. In this case, the idea was to build a political movement to halt the impending destruction of industrial civilization by out of control environmentalists. The Center for Defense of Free Enterprise was not having much luck raising money, because Ronald Reagan in the White House was so successful. Perhaps the president and his ideological partners needed some help defending free enterprise and industrial civilization. Over four years of planning and organizing would occur before the project was launched. It was a long-term investment, since the payoff took an additional two years to materialize.
Part of Arnold's sales appeal is that he portrays himself as a "former environmentalist."
"I was a board member of the Pacific Northwest Chapter [of the Sierra Club]" Arnold tells us. "I took Brock Evan's seat when he occupied a board seat for the Pacific Northwest Chapters as the Northwest representative -- at the time that meant lobbyist. When he left, he went out to Washington, D. C. to become their lobbyist and I was elected to occupy his seat, which I did until I resigned in 1971." Brock Evans, now vice president for national issues of the Audubon Society, remembers the story differently. In a telephone interview from Washington, D. C., he said: "He [Arnold] was not a major figure at all. In the late 60's we just formed a local Sierra Club group there [in Seattle]. I was a representative and my wife was on the executive committee...executive committees of local groups are whoever will serve -- you find volunteers. And so, Ron wandered in one day and said he'd like to help out and sure, you know, all hands, the more the merrier. I do believe he actually was on the executive committee. He used to say he was on the board of directors until we caught him on that because, of course, he was never on anything like that.
"The only thing I remember about Ron is that he fancied himself to be a photographer. We were then fighting the battle of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness...he had a slide show and he wanted to sell it to us. And he wanted us to pay for it, you know, reimburse him for it. And we said, 'Ron, we'd love to, but we can't pay. Everybody here just works for nothing. Why don't you just give it to us?' And he got really pissed off and left. So the next thing I know there he is giving speeches to the Logging Association saying how awful we are and how he knows because he's one of us. And there goes another renegade. It happens in every movement and I never thought anything about it, the guy's such a lightweight. Then all at once he's writing books saying how wonderful James Watt [former Secretary of the Interior under Reagan] is. It makes for an interesting country."
Gottlieb was too busy with his problems with the IRS to immediately start an anti-environmental movement from scratch, but he did give Arnold free-lance writing jobs.
Arnold says that in August 1984, Gottlieb appointed him Executive Director of the Center for Free Enterprise. This would pre-date the attempted firing of Greg McDonald from that position. McDonald disagrees with Arnold's version. McDonald is listed as a director of CDFE on an annual report filed with the Secretary of State's office. It is dated February 14, 1985 and signed by Alan Gottlieb as president of CDFE.
The executive director is not a member of the board of directors and is not recorded on a corporation's annual reports. The situation is murky and the only thing that is clear is that the various stories do not agree.
Arnold's position as Executive Director, like his current title of Executive Vice President of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, was unpaid. Arnold likes to point his finger at the high salaries collected by environmentalists and offers his unsalaried position at CDFE as a counter-example.
Arnold's has his own business, Northwoods Studios: "I do it through my private consultancy. I've written a number of books, I edit books for others for a fee, I write contract books for shameless amounts of money....," Arnold says, "I've got a lot more money than a lot of their [corporate America's] CEO's."
Arnold minded the store at CDFE until Gottlieb was released from prison in the summer of 1985. That same year Gottlieb joined the Council for National Policy. He is proud enough of his membership to list it in Who's Who in America.
The Council for National Policy is one of the most powerful and secretive right wing organizations in the country. First coming to national attention in the Iran-Contra scandal, when Lt. Col. Oliver North's remarks to a CNP gathering in Nashville were leaked to the Washington Post. In the ensuing controversy over North's fundraising for the Contras, numerous members of the CNP were involved.
The secrecy that surrounds the group has only slowly been peeled away. The CNP was started in 1981 by former Rep. Larry McDonald (D-GA) and Californian William Cies, both leaders of the John Birch Society. They in turn recruited Dr. Tim LaHaye, a leader of the Moral Majority in California, to be the first president. The CNP sees itself as the conservative alternative to the establishment Council on Foreign Relations.
CNP members must be approved by a unanimous vote of the current executive committee. Some of the people that approved Gottlieb's membership included the three past presidents of the CNP: Thomas F. Ellis, a former director of the Pioneer Fund, which supports efforts to prove that blacks are genetically inferior to whites (Ellis later distanced himself from his racist past); Nelson Bunker Hunt, silver speculator and member of the John Birch Society's national council; and Dr. Tim LaHaye, the founding president.
Political researcher Fred Clarkson sees the CNP as being the "central leadership network of the far right in the United States." The CNP has a policy of keeping nearly everything about the organization secret. At a CNP gathering in St. Louis in October 1993, executive director Morton C. Blackwell distributed a memo to all attendees that cautioned them that "Council meetings are closed to the media and general public. The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting." The memo concludes "We have these rules for your benefit and to allow open, uninhibited remarks from our speakers."
The current president of the CNP is Edwin Meese III. Oliver North is on the current Executive Committee that vets all proposed members, as are Holland "Holly" Coors, Edwind J. Feulner (head of the Heritage Foundation), Howard Phillips (of the US Taxpayers Party and the Conservative Caucus) and Richard DeVos (president of the Amway Corporation). Former presidents of CNP include Thomas Ellis, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Richard DeVos, and Pat Robertson.
In 1994, CNP meetings were held in Palm Beach, Florida in February, and reportedly scheduled for Virginia in May, and New Orleans in November. Gottlieb provided Eastsideweek with a list of TV and radio appearances for the first half of 1994. He was on WPBR radio (Palm Beach, Florida) in February and May. He also appeared on WLEE radio (Richmond, Virginia) in May.
Gottlieb is not an ordinary member of CNP with dues of $2000 per year, but a member of the elite board of governors with annual dues of $5000. In the nine years since Gottlieb joined, the total dues for a board of governors membership would come to $45,000. This is only $3,000 more than the amount that Gottlieb's Second Amendment Foundation raised by using the name of Bernard Goetz in a telephone campaign.
Goetz rose to national prominence in December 1984 for shooting four black youths in a New York subway. In May 1985, Gottlieb complied with a request from Goetz's attorneys to cease and desist using Goetz's name in fund raising efforts by the Second Amendment Foundation. The SAF had been soliciting donations by telephone for the "Citizens' Self-Defense Fund." Supposedly, the money would be earmarked for the defense of people like Goetz. Mike Kenyon of the SAF at first told the Seattle Times that "only $10,000 or $12,000" had been raised. When the paper contacted Joseph Kellner, Goetz's attorney, he said that the amount reported to him by Kenyon was actually $42,000. Kenyon later admitted that the larger amount was correct. Kellner said that he was not implying any wrongdoing on the part of the SAF. Noting that several unauthorized fundraising operations were underway nationwide, Kellner said, "We cannot have any part of it. We have no way of knowing whether the money that is collected will got to Mr. Goetz, and the only honorable thing to do is to have nothing to do with it."
In April of 1986 Judge Frank D. Howard exonerated Gottlieb of all but one of the allegations brought by Greg McDonald and the others, ending the 18-month long Second Amendment Foundation war. The one point that McDonald did prevail on was a ruling by Judge Howard that the Board of Trustees of the SAF would "either affirm, or disaffirm, SAF's participation in the purchase of the Liberty Park property." Should the trustees decide that they had not participated in the purchase of the property, they were instructed to sell SAF's interest to Gottlieb. The price to Gottlieb was set at what SAF had paid, plus interest at the prime rate. It was not a bad deal for Gottlieb, since it amounted to a four year loan at low interest. According to Greg McDonald, the SAF retroactively affirmed the purchase. This would save Gottlieb from paying the interest on the loan.
Somewhere around this time, Gottlieb and Joseph Tartaro switched places on board of the Second Amendment Foundation. Gottlieb, as president of both non-profits, and the respective secretaries of the SAF and Citizens Committee had signed the Quit Claim Deeds in November 1982 that partitioned the property to give himself ownership of the building and the non-profits the land. Tartaro, now President of the Second Amendment Foundation, and Joe Friend, the Executive Director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, signed the papers on June 30, 1987, selling the land to Gottlieb.
The price to Gottlieb was listed in the King county auditor's office at $300,000, but according to King county tax records, the land was only worth $163,800. This would imply that the non-profits had paid far more than the assessed value for the land that had been quit-claimed to them back in 1983.
Currently, SAF and the Citizen's Committee have leases with Gottlieb that run through 1996. According to an audit report provided to Eastsideweek by Gottlieb, the Citizen's Committee is also "responsible for operating costs associated with the property." These two leases pay Gottlieb slightly less than $100,000 a year. CDFE gets a much lower rate on its rent payments at only $8,421 a year. This is the amount listed as occupancy expenses on the most recent CDFE 990 report filed with the IRS. It may be an even better deal than it looks, since CDFE also has an office in Boise, Idaho. The total income from the non-profits' leases was slightly over $106,413 in 1993, according to audit reports and tax returns that Gottlieb supplied to Eastsideweek. Not bad income for a less than half of a building that is assessed at $696,000.
The first stirrings of the nascent Wise Use Movement were coming from Liberty Park. In early 1987, Gottlieb, Arnold and CDFE member Chuck Cushman launched a lawsuit seeking to stop the distribution of a report by the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors. A preliminary summary of the report had called for "greenways" across the country using abandoned rail lines, river banks and other land. Another provision would create an endowment that would provide $1 billion dollars per year in grants to acquire public property. Gottlieb told the papers that the proposals were "an incredibly bad idea" that would impede commercial development. "This sounds like a goody-two-shoes thing for the environment, but in fact they need to see what the long-term impact is," said Gottlieb in a Seattle Times article.
Later that year, Gottlieb and Arnold had a visitor at Liberty Park, Dr. Robert Grant of Christian Voice. Grant came with a proposal to form a political group called the American Freedom Coalition.
The American Freedom Coalition was Rev. Sun Myong Moon's latest political venture. According to a March 27, 1989 article in U.S. News and World Report, on New Year's day, 1987, Rev Moon told his Unification Church followers that he wanted to expand the church's political influence. The AFC was the vehicle for that expansion.
Political researcher Dan Junas regards the AFC as the marriage of Moon's CAUSA with Christian Voice, in that Bo Hi Pak gave Grant the names of thousands of previous CAUSA conference attendees, time on the agenda of all CAUSA conferences; and the services of one staff member per state to help encourage CAUSA graduates to join the AFC, as well as several others to help staff the Washington D.C. office.
When the AFC was going public, Arnold had been on the CAUSA speakers bureau for at least a year. In 1983, Gottlieb had attended the very first CAUSA meeting to reach into North America and Arnold, as a columnist at the Bellevue Journal-American, had taken an all expense paid trip on a "fact-finding mission" with Moon's World Journalism Association.
The American Freedom Coalition of Washington filed its first annual report in March 1988. No officers had been elected at the time of the filing and the three directors all listed out of state addresses. Ron Arnold was the first president and registered agent and Alan Gottlieb was a director. Arnold served as president for three years, and Gottlieb was a director for two. The street address for the AFC during Arnold's presidency was next door to Liberty Park and Gottlieb rented some office space to them in the Liberty Park building.
The AFC never really gelled. Pat Robertson used similar coalition building tactics, but his Christian Coalition always had an electoral focus to it: first Robertson's presidential campaign which enabled him to control several state's Republican parties and then the "stealth" campaigns for local offices such as school boards. Moon evidently wanted to start at the top. What support the AFC did organize went to Bush's presidential campaign.
Gottlieb says he never saw any point to it. "There was no way you could pollinate these people on any other issues.... The AFC never had an identity and I think they were just doomed to die. It never had an identity, in fact I don't understand what the purpose ever was," he told us.
On the subject of the AFC as a part of the Moon organization, Arnold insisted that "it has never been clear to me exactly what role the Moonies had with AFC, because we only dealt essentially with the state group." If Arnold had asked the man in the office next door to him, Alan Gottlieb could have told him.
Gottlieb told us he wasn't too concerned about who really controlled AFC. He said, "...the people that were picked, like Reverend Bob Grant is a Baptist minister, who surely doesn't share either the religious view of Moon or, probably, his political agenda, either, to a large extent. I know for a fact, sometimes I talk to Bob Grant... at various conferences, like this one back in February. [The Council for National Policy met in Palm Beach, Florida that month] Reverend Moon never, he or his people, never ever told him what to do or picked the staff for them or anything. They were totally, just-- It was sort of like, they would say 'We need money and we need this to do this and this and this', fine, he'd just write a check."
The American Freedom Coalition organizing was going on at the same time as Gottlieb and Arnold's Wise Use project was coming together. Wise Use is a new name for an old and flawed product that the country had already rejected. The phrase "Wise Use Movement" is just a new twist to the same activities that gone on under the name of James Watt's "sagebrush rebellion". To a large extent, the players are the same, as well. Most of the self-proclaimed leaders had ridden to Washington, D.C. on Watt's coat-tails. All the various activities of anti-regulatory groups had been going on for a long time.
Wise Use combines a legal strategy with political organizing. The legal front was already covered by right-wing legal foundations like California's Pacific Legal Foundation, Watt's Mountain States Legal Foundation and Jeannette Burrage's Northwest Legal Foundation. Arnold had already had extensive experience as a publicist for industry before he arrived at Liberty Park. "Volunteer membership groups" serving as front organizations for hidden agendas were nothing new. Moon's American Freedom Coalition was a perfect model for such an organization. Charles "Chuck" Cushman's organizing efforts in support of private use of public land and resources were well developed. The construction of the semblance of public support for continuing government subsidies for industry had been going on for some time.
The kick-off for the Wise Use Movement was the August 1988 Multiple-Use Strategy Conference at the Nugget casino/hotel near Reno. The name "Wise Use" hadn't been unveiled yet, so the conference title used an already existing phrase in one of Charles "Chuck" Cushman's organizations, the Multiple-Use Land Alliance. The purpose of the Conference was to define the common ground on which to fight environmentalism. The 250 delegates invited by Gottlieb and Arnold, represented two main groups -- industry and lobbyists. There was a sufficient sprinkling of small grass-roots organizations names in the roster to provide some cover, though very few of the small groups listed in the conference report actually attended. This would become the familiar trade-mark of Wise Use: little guys carrying the banner for the big boys.
The companies were mainly from the west's "big four" natural-resource industries -- timber, mining, energy and ranching. They included The American Mining Congress, the National Cattlemen's Association, the DuPont Co., Exxon Co., USA, Louisiana Pacific Corporation, Northwest Independent Forest Manufacturers, Willamette Forestry Council, and Timber Association of California.
The lobbyists, promoters, flacks and "leaders" were industry supporters like Gottlieb and Arnold with CDFE; Cushman's National Inholders Association; Clark Collins' Blue Ribbon Coalition; James Watt's Mountain States Legal Foundation; Grant Gerber's Wilderness Impact Research Foundation; Ted Cowan's Public Land Users Society; Montana PLUS; Consumer Alert; Columbia Gorge United; James D. Peterson, a forest industry public relations consultant; and the Northwest Legal Foundation headed by current Washington Supreme Court candidate Jeannette Burrage.
The little guys were represented in the "Index to the Wise Use Movement" by property owners associations and recreational clubs such as Bremerton Cruisers, Eastern Washington Dirt Riders, Roadrunners Motorcycle Club, Skagit Motorcycle Club, Tacoma Motorcycle Club, the Idaho Gem and Mineral Society, the Magic Valley Trail Machine Association, the Arizona Bowhunters' Association, and the Yakima Valley Dust Dodgers. Most of the organizations listed did not attend, but rather "supported the Wise Use Movement" through their participation in umbrella organizations like the Blue Ribbon Coalition or the Public Land Users Society. It is questionable if the members of these organizations approved of, or even knew what the Wise Use Movement is all about. These are the spear carriers, the foot soldiers, the grass-roots. The ones who send Gottlieb money in the mail.
There was also one other sponsor that has garnered a lot of attention: the American Freedom Coalition.
National Parks magazine (Nov/Dec 1992) reported that "The meeting resulted in formation of a working coalition united by two correlating goals: to curb any constraints on the use of private land and to abolish all limits to the abuse of public land. The time was propitious. There were three major pieces of environmental legislation about to come before Congress: renewal of the Endangered Species Act, which restricted logging; renewal of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which restricted property rights and access to some wilderness areas; and repeal of the 1872 Mining Act, which allowed mining and energy companies to mine and drill on public lands at annual fees of $2.50 an acre."
For many right-wing political groups, the motto seems to be, "When you can't take the heat, change the nameplate on the door." Wise Use was the same people who had ridden James Watt's "sagebrush rebellion" into power with Reagan. A new and improved name would enable them to distance themselves from Watt's failures. "Sagebrush Rebellion II" is sort of a clunky title. As Arnold pointed out to us in his office, "Wise Use" only takes up eight spaces in a newspaper headline. (Actually, Arnold said nine, but we were too smart for him, we counted the letters.)
Gottlieb's Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise started the Wise Use publicity drive by cheerleading a lawsuit brought by eleven Washington apple growers against "60 Minutes", the National Resource Defence Council and others for "damages suffered during last year's scare over the growth-regulating chemical Alar." In a December 1988 story from the Associated Press, the NRDC's attorney said the suit "is part of a right-wing political agenda attempting to chill free speech and intimidate the environmental community." Though neither CDFE nor Watt's old legal firm, the Mountain States Legal foundation, were parties to the lawsuit, they lent considerable assistance in publicizing it. By the time that it was over and the case dismissed against CBS and the others, CDFE had been trumpeting the issue for several years. Ron Arnold's daughter, Andrea, wrote a book that reads like a legal brief for the plaintiffs, the phrase "Alar scare" became common usage, and Alar was banned as unsafe. The failure of the growers lawsuit is conspicuously absent from Gottlieb and Arnold's current Wise Use field manual, Trashing the Economy.
The big event for Gottlieb in kicking off the newly named Wise Use Movement was the publication of The Wise Use Agenda, The Citizen's Policy Guide to Environmental Resource Issues, A Task Force Report to the Bush Administration by the Wise Use Movement. This should have been the big money maker. The event was marred by some bad press.
On Sunday, February 12, 1989, The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a front page story titled "Mainstream Moon." Contrary to the expostulations of Gottlieb, Arnold and David Montgomery (the AFC treasurer who just finished last, again, in his endless pursuit of the 2nd Congressional District seat) the article did not address Rev. Moon's religion. The focus of the article was the complex web of anti-communist political organizations that he funds and the involvement of a number of prominent Washington politicos.
Gottlieb doesn't like this article. Grimacing, he told us, "This Walter Hatch piece, it doesn't take much of journalist to take a look at it an realize that you're looking at a poison pen piece, that basically has a lot of inaccuracies in it, identifying me and Ron with AFC and CAUSA, extremely overplayed."
It is hard to pinpoint any "inaccuracies" relating to Gottlieb or Arnold in the article. It states that Gottlieb was on the board of directors of the American Freedom Coalition of Washington and rented office space to Matthew Morrison. Morrison is the Unification Church member who was regional director of CAUSA and the American Constitution Committee, as well as regional coordinator of the AFC. Hatch also mentions in passing that Arnold was on the speakers bureau for CAUSA and took an expense-paid trip to Europe with the Moon-funded World Journalism Association. Gottlieb and Arnold were not the focus of the article, nor was Wise Use mentioned anywhere in it.
Gottlieb told us, "I remember that article was significantly overplayed. But Walter Hatch had motivations. ...Walter was real close to the environmental groups and they were looking for a way to try and discredit the Wise Use Movement."
Hatch does not mention Wise Use in his two-part article, which is a pity, since he missed reporting that the acknowledgements section of Gottlieb's Wise Use Agenda states that "Additional funds or in-kind services were provided by other Wise Use Movement citizen activist organizations." The American Freedom Coalition is fourth in the list of five groups, followed by Charles "Chuck" Cushman's National Inholders Association. The first article that we could find in any environmentalist publication that mentioned the connection between Gottlieb and the Moon organization was in the January 1991 issue of Greenpeace, two years after Hatch wrote the front-page story. If the environmentalists were egging Walter Hatch into writing the article for the Seattle Times, they were remarkably laggard about following up on it.
It may be that the Hatch article did cause problems for Gottlieb's launch of the Wise Use Agenda. The corporations didn't get the Wise Use Movement exactly the way Ron Arnold meant it. Industry looked at Gottlieb's Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and took their business elsewhere. Arnold had spelled out his scheme to peddle his aggressive program to resource industries in Ecology Wars: Environmentalism as if people mattered. Like all of Arnold's Wise Use books, it is distributed by Gottlieb's Merril Press. The failure of Arnold's plan to tap deep pockets would ultimately add corporate America to his grudge list.
It's a strange notion to think of corporations as enemies of free enterprise, but that's what Arnold told us:
"I did spend a lot of time trying to explain movements... to a lot of corporate people... There were a few of them that did recognize what it all meant very clearly, instantly, but they said, 'But, how do we control one?' I said, 'You, assholes! The whole idea is that you can't control one.' It became very evident that that was why they wouldn't support us: because we would say things that they didn't want us to say, we would do things that they wouldn't want us to do, we would sue people that they didn't want sued. Then I began to look, to say, 'Wait a minute. There is something else that is going on back there.'
"We've figured out part of the reason, it's not nice, it's probably a felony. Consider this scenario: You are a large corporation, well capitalized, in a mature industry and you're giving tons of money-- on the order of millions of dollars to a cluster of lobbying environmental groups and they go to congress and lobby into existence laws so stringent that only large, well capitalized firms can comply.
"Explain to me why that is not a conspiracy to contravene the restraint of trade clause in the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1893."
Wise Use is mostly an idea, but Arnold is Gottlieb's marketable product. It's not hard to understand why Gottlieb had a slow time finding buyers. It's a free market and industry went shopping. They found much more amenable shills like Alliance for America, People for the West!, The Umbrella Group and the Blue Ribbon Coalition. These organizations are loaded with the trade association types that Arnold fulminates against. Both Arnold and Gottlieb repeatedly told us that they don't get much industry money. The only industry group that they would name is the Washington Contract Loggers Association.
This actually makes a great deal of sense. Gottlieb is in the direct mail fundraising business. The 1993 tax reports for Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise show direct contributions of $307,783. Gottlieb showed us, but did not provide a copy of what he said was a confidential page of the tax report that showed that $100,000 of this money came from individual donors of more than $5,000. One of these big contributors gave $50,000. None of these were from companies. That leaves approximately $200,000 from other contributions. Gottlieb also told us that his Wise Use mailing list had about 5600 names on it. That works out to an average of roughly $36 per name. This is a much higher return per name than the gun lists which garner somewhere between $5 and $10 per name. While Wise Use has a smaller cashflow, it is more profitable per dollar invested than the gun issues.
1989 was not lacking in Gottlieb's favorite issue: guns. In this case, Seattle's Mayor Charles Royer balked at a recently enacted state law that required the police to auction off unclaimed guns. Royer told the Seattle Times that "We're sending a terrible message when the police do an admirable job of apprehending and disarming criminals. And then we watch those same firearms being sold by the police back to the community. No officer wants to be staring down the barrel of a gun he or she confiscated just a few months ago."
Gottlieb called Royer's comments "nice emotional rhetoric" and got blasted the following day in a Times' editorial which stated that "Predictably, the pro-gun forces weighed in with some naive responses."
The KTW Teflon bullet issue had started the breach between the gun lobby and the police. Now it was out in the open. When John Hinkley emptied his revolver at Ronald Reagan, the political damage to the gun lobby was immense, but very slow to happen. Sarah Brady's efforts at gun control, which came to fruition last spring in the passage of the Brady Bill, did not go unnoticed by Gottlieb.
In 1990, two years before Wise Use started to show a sizeable cash flow, Gottlieb ran a national ad campaign that demanded that "Sarah Brady Stop Lying." Mrs. Brady is the wife of former White House press secretary John Brady, who was permanently disabled in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. She has spearheaded gun control as a national issue for the last decade.
Gun issues continued to dominate Gottlieb's activities in 1990. Jolene Unsoeld switched her position from being a strong supporter of gun control to an opponent of regulation. Having barely squeaked into office in 1988, in a March 30, Seattle Times article Unsoled explained the change by saying, "I was introduced to the issue through crime-fighting, but I came to realize that wasn't the real issue." Republicans were backing former state Rep. Bob Williams, a 1988 gubernatorial candidate with strong support from the Christian right, against Unsoeld. Interestingly, she was quoted as saying, "For me, it's a civil-rights issue." This is a slant on opposition to gun control that Gottlieb claims to have originated. He told the paper that, although he hadn't met her personally during her visit to Liberty Park, "She wanted to let us know that she had changed her position, and now she agrees with us."
Despite her turn-about on the issue, Unsoeld didn't have the gun lobby's endorsement, not yet. The NRA did not endorse either candidate at this point, but NRA chief lobbyist Jim Baker said the NRA traditionally endorses any incumbent who goes along with its position, even belatedly. Gottlieb declined to endorse either candidate, even though Williams had been a staunch opponent of gun control in the legislature.
Just before the general election, on October 18, another article in the Seattle Times headlined, "Unsoeld is the apple of the NRA's bull's-eye." In what the Times described as "a twist that seemed downright bizarre," the NRA had weighed in with a last-minute endorsement, and began running radio ads to counter-attack charges that she had traded her support for a provision in a crime bill to allow continued domestic production of semi-automatic "assault" weapons. The pre-election publicity drew some fire from William's campaign manager, J. Vander Stoep. "The public record shows that until last month, Representative Unsoeld was a lifelong supporter of gun control," he said. On the same day that she sponsored that NRA amendment, she got a $5,000 contribution. And yesterday the NRA began to run commercials. The public has to decide if it's all a coincidence." Unsoeld denied any connection between the two events, calling the timing coincidental.
Gottlieb jumped on the issue by declaring that the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms would likely name Unsoeld "Gun Rights Defender of the Month" at a meeting in Arizona later that month. Gottlieb admitted that he was a friend of Williams and more in tune with him politically. Still, he praised Unsoeld, saying, "She has a deeper understanding of the gun issue than just about any person in Congress."
Gottlieb looks back on this episode as an example of his leadership of the gun lobby. He says, "We're totally independent [from the NRA]. We share intelligence information. We let them know what districts we think might, something might be able to happen or some congressman is doing what. ...our materials, a lot of our materials probably is what helped, and meetings, helped against [sic] Jolene Unsoeld. [It] is an example, that we were right on the issue. The NRA was spending money against Jolene Unsoeld, years ago, we had to pump the NRA, 'Stop spending your money there. It's not a good place to spend your money.' Jolene now agrees with us. She understands the issue."
The end of 1991 was a busy time for Gottlieb and Arnold. The Wise Use story was finally breaking and they needed to ride it for all it was worth. The New York Times quoted Gottlieb as saying "The environmental movement has become the perfect bogeyman," under the headline "Fund-Raisers Tap Anti-Environmentalism." In this article, Gottlieb claimed to have raised about $3 million from an audience of 5 million. Arnold's efforts for Wise Use in Canada, where it is called the SHARE movement, got featured in a three-part report aired on CHEK-TV in Victoria B.C.. A month later, on January 13, the Boston Globe quoted Arnold as saying "We are sick to death of environmentalism and so we shall destroy it. We will not allow our right to own property to be stripped from us by a bunch of eco-fascists."
Arnold and his pitch sold well. Arnold told us of a little joke that was going around the office in early 1992. A gruff voice would call up on the phone and ask in threatening tones if this was the place that was trying to destroy the enviros. When the secretary would nervously answer yes, the voice would then say "Where do I send the money?" Even today, the phrase "Where do I send the money?" makes Arnold and Gottlieb smile.
The increased exposure did have some drawbacks.
In December 1991, the Research Branch of the Canadian Library of Parliament released a report titled "Share Groups in British Columbia." The Share Movement in Canada is their version of the Wise Use Movement. This report stated in summary:
"With respect to B.C. Share Groups, the forest companies have provided these 'local citizen's coalitions' with much of their organizational impetus and financial backing. Their apparent objective has been to pit labour against environmentalists and environmentally-oriented persons. Their effect has been to divide communities and create animosity in the very places where honest communication and consensus should be encouraged.
"While the rank and file membership of the Share movement may not be aware of its connection with the Wise Use movement, the tactics and language of the two movements indicate a common source of counseling and training, namely Ron Arnold and his associates.
"Share organizers who chose to accept counsel and coaching from these sources were likely in a position to know about Wise Use and its advocates in the Centre [sic] for the Defence of Free Entreprise [sic] and the American Freedom Coalition."
Later that spring, in March of 1992, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a story headlined "Anti-environmentalists gain headway in Olympia." The article has a four-column picture of a smiling Gottlieb and a grim Arnold in their offices at Liberty Park. "Last year, we tried to kill growth management," said Arnold. We were trying to pull the levers of power, but didn't know where they all were. This year, we found where our friends are.... the future of the property rights issue for the next decade will probably be centered in Washington state."
Gottlieb, probably pleased with the harvest of millions that he claimed to have raised, said, "We planted all the seeds."
Now that Wise Use was running smoothly and the money was beginning to flow in to Gottlieb at Liberty Park, he turned the public end of the operation over to Arnold. Gottlieb has very rarely taken a public role in Wise Use since it started to make money in 1992. Arnold gets the press and Gottlieb stays in the background. Gottlieb says, "sometimes you're a lot more effective when you get less attention."
Gottlieb continued working his gun organizations. The gun issue is remarkably durable. The contributions declared by the Second Amendment Foundation for the early 1980's are about the same as they are today. Assuming that contribution size has stayed the same, this suggests that the number of people that Gottlieb taps today for his gun causes is no larger now than it was at the peak of his influence a decade ago.
When he went to jail and emerged into the bitter dispute with Greg McDonald, Gottlieb's gun revenues dropped dramatically. In the period of 1981 through 1983, the total revenues of the Second Amendment Foundation averaged $2.7 million per year. In 1984, the year that Ron Arnold arrived with his proposal for Wise Use and when Gottlieb went to jail on tax charges, the revenue dropped to $1,557,610. During the lawsuit with McDonald in 1985, they fell to $1,482,049. By 1988, total revenues had only climbed to $1,806,478. By 1992, the most recent year which Gottlieb has made information available, total revenues for the SAF had risen to $2,533,427, a modest increase of $200,000 from the preceding year.
The real value of the dollar has diminished through inflation, so real revenues from guns have actually declined relative to the peak total revenue of $3,018,430 in 1982. Likewise, as the population of the country has grown, the percentage of the population (less than one half of one percent or fewer than 1 in 200) that believe enough in Gottlieb's position to send him money has not yet regained the numbers that he influenced over a decade ago.
This may be a partial explanation for the value of Wise Use to Gottlieb: he needed to increase the diversity of his financial base.
In 1988, the year that Wise Use was launched, total revenue at the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise was $78,364. In 1989 it rose slightly to $109,955. In 1990, it dropped to $52,008. In 1991, the last year before it went public, total revenue was $55,538. With the publicity in full swing and people calling up asking "Where do I send the money?", CDFE hit the big time in 1992 with $345,711 in total revenue. In 1993, the last year for which reports are available, total revenue at CDFE had dipped slightly to $339,289. After several years of roaming the range for social change, Gottlieb had corralled his new cash cow.
Having wound up the spring, Gottlieb let Wise Use start whirring across the country. As Wise Use stirred up the hate, fear and revenge that make people send him money, it also fed on whatever issues happened to be lying around and waiting for the slight push needed to shake people up enough to start sending in donations. By 1993, Wise Use was a big business and it was doing well in Puget Sound and around the country.
In 1993, Arnold and Gottlieb issued their new field manual for Wise Use. Published by CDFE's Free Enterprise Press and distributed by Gottlieb's Merril Press, Trashing the Economy, subtitled "How Runaway Environmentalism is Wrecking America," is a catalog of "secrets the environmental movement does not want the public to know." That's what Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb say in the foreword of the book. It is a catalog of attacks on environmental organizations. Arnold assured us that not just every page, but "every sentence" had been checked for source and accuracy.
We went through the book and called several of the environmental organizations that are attacked in the book. Each environmental organization has an entire chapter that starts with its address and telephone number. The first thing that we discovered was that the telephone number that was given for one of them was actually the number for a different organization. Each of the groups that we talked to faxed back pages of corrections to errors and misstatements in Trashing the Economy. Greenpeace sent us a copy of an errata sheet that is supposed to be in every copy. The one that Gottlieb gave us didn't have an errata sheet in it.
The favorite Wise Use attack on environmentalists is that they are a bunch of pointy-headed, socialist-leaning, liberal rich folk who cozy up to inflated federal, state and local bureaucracies so that they can run everybody's lives, overthrow constitutional rights, and destroy industrial civilization, the American economy and any remaining shred of free enterprise while gobbling down huge salaries, tax-benefits and unethical profits at the expense of the hard-working, tax-paying, upright, ethical, moral, decent, caring, warm-hearted industries that make their profits from the "Wise Use" of public lands.
Needless to say, this at first left the environmentalists puzzled and bemused.
Later, they began finding that angry crowds of people who had been literally frightened out of their wits were angrily protesting against outrages that didn't exist or demanding that government pass laws that were fiscally irresponsible, contrary to existing legislation or simply unconstitutional.
A typical non-existent outrage is Charles "Chuck" Cushman's disinformation campaign over the proposed Cascades National Park and Reserve. This proposal aims to improve efficiency and communication among agencies that administer public lands in the northern Cascades. A small portion of the ecosystem region extends across the border into Canada, hence the need for international cooperation. According to Mitch Friedman of the Greater Eco-system Alliance, a supporter of the proposal, "It will have no impact on private property, only change regulation of public land."
Cushman, working with the Okanagon Concerned Citizens Coalition (which usually refers to itself as OC3) and other Wise Use "property rights" groups, immediately began thundering around the state holding meetings where he denounced what was now being called by Wise Use the "International Peace Park" as an attempt to "lock up" private land. According to documents distributed by OC3, about 200 Okanagon County residents participated in a protest that Cushman organized at the "Nature Has No Borders" conference at the University of Washington in April. Cushman was quoted in the August 1994 issue of The Idaho Outback as saying, "They [federal officials] have said in documents that they want to eliminate hunting, mining, grazing, logging, and off-road recreation. Millions of acres will be taken [from private property owners] if we let them do this." At a Libertarian gathering in Everett, where Gottlieb was speaking on gun rights, one woman asked us in worried tones if we had heard about the "International Peace Park" which would be placed under United Nations jurisdiction.
The current Wise Use legal strategy for Washington state is the County Sovereignty "movement" which attempts to sell "Catron County [New Mexico] ordinances" to local governments. So far, Chelan, Ferry, Grant, Lincoln, Okanagon, Pend Orille counties are known to be considering or have expended public funds on such ordinances. Walla Walla county has actually passed one. They are now being sued in Federal Court to overturn it.
Promoted by Karen Budd, a former staff assistant to James Watt, these ordinances provide a spurious legal framework for attacking state and federal jurisdiction in land use issues. In every case where they have come before a court, the Catron ordinances have been found to be unconstitutional. Jeffery T. Even, a Washington Assistant Attorney General, has written a formal legal opinion (AGO 1994 No. 10) that states that counties lack the authority claimed in the Catron ordinance and the ordinances are in conflict with both the U.S. and Washington constitutions.
"Catron County" documents and newsletters are sold by the National Federal Lands Conference, a business in Bountiful, Utah. The NFLC board of advisors are headed by Ron Arnold and Karen Budd. Scott Reed, an Idaho attorney who successfully overturned Catron ordinances in Boundary County, Idaho, is scathing in his denunciation of the ordinances. An article titled "The County Supremacy Movement: Mendacious Myth Marketing" in the Idaho Law Review, Reed writes, "...its remedy totally lacks any basis for legal enforceability. The county supremacy ordinances have the durability of cow chips. County supremacy is a gaseous myth. The methane falls mainly on the plain."
Reeling under the onslaught of tactics like the Catron ordinances, the environmentalists then began pointing to the corporate money and right-wing ideology of the Wise Use Movement. The movement structure of Wise Use provided plenty of cover for the central driving forces. The lower tier of Wise Use was ready, willing and able to rush forward to point out that they were just ordinary loggers, farmers, cowboys and property owners being "strangled" by excessive regulation.
Finally, the environmentalists fell back on doing little but thinking up cute names like Wide Abuse, Dumb Use, Over-Use and insisting that people not say the dread words "Wise Use" in their presence.
Arnold had repackaged the environmental movement in economic terms -- turning it inside out and upside down in the process -- and it worked like a charm. By 1993, Wise Use had built a constituency that was moving from just impeding environmental legislation at the federal level to actually proposing "Private Property" laws in Congress. In Puget Sound, Whatcom and Snohomish counties got their local governments turned upside down and shaken by the Wise Use property rights groups during the 1993 local elections. All by moving the debate onto the economic ground of "Overregulation" or "Jobs versus the Environment."
Even Labor leaders who support the environmental movement agree that conservation leaders have failed to do anything about the plight of workers who have lost their jobs and communities whose economies have been devastated by environmental regulation. Don Judge, executive secretary for the Montana AFL/CIO, is a staunch opponent of Wise Use. His organization, together with the Western States Center are working together in the Wise Use Exposure Project. The Exposure Project aims to expose the ideological and corporate interests behind Wise Use and educate people about the threat that Wise Use poses to the "environmental and economic health of the West."
Judge told Audubon magazine ( Sept/Oct) 1992) that "I think the environmental movement has mishandled the issue tremendously. A long time ago, they should have focused on a responsible development plan -- a responsible balance between local communities and local economies -- as opposed to the extremes of log it or lock it up."
Environmental writer Richard M. Stapleton faults environmental leaders for not opposing Wise Use in the field or anywhere else for that matter. In an article entitled "A Call to Action", which he wrote for National Parks (Mar/April 1993), he wrote: "Even now, in preparing this article, it was interesting to find that there were many conservation groups that would not discuss the Wise Use Movement on -- or even off -- the record. They preferred , they said, to "lay low" on the issue.
One environmentalist in Washington, D.C. who was interviewed by telephone is alarmed by Wise Use's clout in Congress. "Wise Use over the past year has really gained steam," says Sue Ellen Lowry of the Sierra Club. "It started in October of 1993 when the National Biological Survey was delivered. Suddenly the property rights [House] members became very active...The property rights folks have managed to grind activity around environmental legislation to a halt. People here are saying it's the greatest environmental backlash they have ever seen at Federal levels."
The environmentalists are jittery about the gridlock because the linchpin Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act are up for reauthorization this year and the property rights caucus has a good chance to gut them. The caucus leader is W. J. (Billy) Tauzin (D), who wrote the introduction for a Wise Use book published this year by Gottlieb's Free Enterprise Press. The book, It takes a Hero, by William Perry Pendley, Chief Legal Officer of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, is subtitled, "The Grassroots Battle Against Environmental Oppression. "
In a telephone interview, Tauzin said that he does not accept help from Gottlieb and Arnold in drafting legislation but that "Their groups support some of the things I'm doing. That's why I'm grateful for their help and support."
Tauzin has introduced Private Property Owners Bill of Rights (HR 3857) which would require that the government compensate anyone who can prove that the value of his property has been reduced by 50 per cent or more because of regulations imposed under the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.
At the Sierra Club, Sue Ellen Lowry says that if the bill were enacted it "would stop implementation of environmental laws regarding endangered species and wetlands because the compensation that would result from enforcement would bankrupt the government."
Tauzin has attached amendments that would have the same affect as his bill to the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the California Desert Protection Act, all of which are held up in committee. (Different versions of the California Protection Act have been passed by the House and the Senate which will resolve their differences in joint conference committee.)
"So we're in a position now where they have the upper hand," says Ruth Fleisher, aide to Rep George Miller (D) of California. "They can win two to one. I don't know what happens now, it may be that those of us that oppose it have to figure out ways of seeing common ground. I don't know the answer to this. All I know is that we're a lot worse off than we thought were."
Tauzin refutes opponents who, "have criticized my motives, saying I'm trying to protect big oil companies...They don't need my help. My commitment to this issue was born out of the horror stories that average, middle-class landowners shared with me."
As for his bill ruining the economy, Tauzin said that "It won't bankrupt the country if environmental laws are properly applied and if they are properly reformed..." If we pass a bill that says you gotta make full compensation, don't you think there's going to be a rush to reform the environmental laws?"
Tauzin predicted that "in the next few years" property rights advocates would inevitably win over Congress. "I think there's not a question about if, it's a question of when," he said. "The anger in America over [environmental] extremism has to build a little more...But once it reaches a fever pitch, once we start having the sons of liberty meeting in the taverns, you know we're eventually going to have what I call a property rights revolt in this country. And we're going to start winning big across America."
Winning big is what the New Right have been thirsting for since 1964, when Barry Goldwater's defeat set in motion the reinvention of the Republican Party. The New Right got a taste of power in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected. They lost that power when Bush won the succession struggle. Now, in June 1994, they are in position to cash in for real.
Gottlieb explained to us that he had targeted "cross-cut" districts for the 1994 Congressional mid-term election. A "cross-cut" district is one in which voters gave George Bush a majority in the 1992 election, but elected a Democratic Congressional candidate. Furthermore, if the current Democratic incumbent was elected by a margin of 5% or less, this is a place where the anti-gun control vote (which normally comprises about 2 - 5%) can play a significant role.
Gottlieb has his eye on roughly two dozen Congressional seats. He tells us, "Just watch what happens in November."