Thursday, October 19, 2006

Green Congressional Candidates: Blackwater Money "None of Your Business"

Greta Browne and Derf Maitland, congressional candidates from the Green Party, want to set the record straight. Greta, Green candidate for Congress here in the Lehigh Valley, tells us this:

"Here's the truth: During the petition drive, Carl Romanelli offered to pay any volunteer collecting signatures for Green Party candidates. A couple of our volunteers accepted and received around the figure Bernie O'Hare quoted. $200 represents 100 signatures @ $2 each. We collected a total of over 4600 signatures. We needed 3417 sigs to get on the ballot. Guy and I personally collected over 600 each and accepted no payment.

At the time the money was offered and paid we had no idea that some of Romanelli's donations came from Republicans. I'm certain no one would have accepted it if we had known.

My campaign received no money from Carl Romanelli. We are proud to be grassroots and firm on our principles.

Sincerely, Greta"

I have serious problems with Greta's explanation.

First, contrary to what Browne claims, it was widely known Romanelli was funded exclusively by Santorum supporters.

Second, the explanation is inaccurate. In addition to the $200 noted yesterday, an additional $855 independent expenditure was paid on her behalf. Moreover, "coordinated expenditures" on behalf of all four congressional greens are reported by FEC records at $40,735. The money came from the Luzerne County Green Party, which in turn was funded with $156,000 from the likes of the founder of Blackwater USA. It was blood money.

Third, Titus North, Pittsburgh's green congressional candidate from Pittsburgh, acknowledges he was aware this sort of money might be coming as part of an informal arrangement with Romanelli. This is inconsistent with what Browne now says, although I have no reason to doubt her honesty and I don't think Titus North expected that such a large sum would be reported.

Fourth, Browne indicates "a couple" of the "volunteers" agreed to accept payment but the $200 check was made out to only one person. And there is no explanation for the $855 payment or the subsequent "coordinated expenditures."

Fifth, during a debate last week in Pen Argyl, Browne said her largest contributor gave her $500, and this was in response to a specific question about her campaign contributors. She did not note that she had actually allowed someone to pay a volunteer $2 for every signature. She did not mention either the $200 or $855 expenditure. She did not mention Blackwater USA. Perhaps she did not know. Perhaps she and her fellow Greens have been set up.
Browne's response now is that people with concerns should contact her privately. That's open and accountable government, Green Party style.

Derf Maitland, the Green candidate for Congress in York, threatened a libel prosecution, and provided an even better demonstration of how Greens really view open and accountable government:

"Whose side are you on? If you are a Green (or a former Green), then bring this matter up to the State Green Party--address it the right way and stop throwing darts. If you are a Dem or Rep, then you are just blowing smoke up my ass. If you are another party or independent, then it's none of your business ... ."

I get it. If I'm a Green or former Green, I should note this little $40,000 problem privately. If I belong to a major party, my motivation is necessarily political. And if I'm independent, it's none of my business! In other words, I have no right to air this dirty laundry publicly.

This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of my rights, not as a member of some political party, but as an American citizen. As a democrat and citizen who cares about my government, I have every right to question the pernicious influence of money in politics. Greens do it all the time. That right is so important the FEC makes finance records available online for all of us.

The Green Party is supposed to be driven by grassroots, not big money, and certainly not Blackwater or Haliburton. Congressional Greens have either benefited from this money or are victims of a charade being perpetuated by Luzerne County's Greens. I don't deny the need to reform draconian ballot access laws. But that does not excuse either the blood money or the deceptive nature of the green party's financial disclosure. And it does not excuse green candidates who tell the public their campaign finances are none of our business.


Peter Crownfield said...

Bernie -

You are right to ask for an accurate accounting of -- and accountability for -- these contributions. That being said, there may be more productive modes than attack (which seems more of a right-wing approach than progressive).

But on to the case in point...

It seems that some Greens have been inexcusably lax about the sources of funds that they accepted. (I might also say that it might be hard to investigate every contribution as it's received to make sure it isn't tainted; if it comes from the state party, a local candidate might well accept it in good faith.)

Anyone who knowingly accepted this right-wing money -- 'blood money, as you call it -- have tarnished the Greens' name and done serious damage to other Green candidates. They deserve whatever happens to them.

As for Greta Browne (and the 3 other candidates who accepted money from the state party for signature-gathering), unless you have something to indicate that they knew it was tainted, I don't think you have much of a case against them -- just against the people in Luzerne County and perhaps some people in the state Green Party. If candidates knew where the money came from, I do have a big problem with that.

When all is said and done, however, election day is about choices. There are 3 candidates listed in our local 15th District race -- none of them perfect -- and each voter must choose among them (or do a write-in).

Given the choice between Charlie Dent, Charles Dertinger, and Greta Browne, I don't have any trouble saying that Browne is the candidate we can count on to push the national agenda in the direction of peace, environmental stewardship, and true democracy.

Anonymous said...

Browne can't really be counted on to push the national agenda in any direction, not unless <1% of the vote in the 15th is a lot more important to the national agenda than it used to be.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, I'm a miserable bastard. I admit it. But I am outraged that the party of peace would accept blood money, the maximum $10,000 allowed, from the founder of Blackwater USA. I am incensed that over $150k was poured into green coffers by archconservatives with ties to Haliburton and lobbyists. And I am very disturbed by the FEC report indicating that over $40k of this tainted money was spent, in "coordinated expenditures," to support Pa. greens seeking election to Congress.

I know congressional grens took at least some of that money. Titus North (the congressional candidate from Pittsburgh) admitted to me that he deposited two checks in his personal account, and provided a third check to one of his volunters. Greta Brown acknowledges the paltry sum of $200. And it was common knowledge that this money was coming from the far right wing of the Republican party. North admits this. Browne claims not to have known. I don't doubt her honesty, but have to question how well informed she is if she did not know that.

But we are talking about far more than $200, and that you don't seem to get. We are talking about over $40k in uncoordinated expenditures supposedly spent on behalf of congressional greens. If this did not occur, it is extremely important to our democratic form of government to make clear that this is not so. Either it was spent on behalf of congressional greens or it was spent some other way and the Luzerne County report is a charade. The truth has to be established.

Greta Browne states people who want to know should contact her privately. You actually suggested earlier today, in an email posted to a yahoo group, that this criticism should be ignored because there are more important issues. And Derf Maitland, another Green candidate for Congress, tells me it "is none of your business."

This is where you and I part ways. I am a strong advocate of open and accountable government. The Pa. Green Party, in the first of its ten key values, stresses "public participation at every level of government" as well as public representatives "fully accountable to the people who elect them."

But, just as Greens have started taking blood money, they don''t feel a need to account for it. I think it extremely important that Browne make a very clear explanation, not just of the $200, but of the $40k and the $800 or so direct expenditure supposedly made on her behalf. Failurte to do so permits this type of situation to continue. And incidentally, it is not good government.

"None of your business" is not a good answer to someone who demands open and accountable government. Neither is "talk to me privately."

Reluctance to speak out forcefully and openly about this mockery of green party values is an indication that Greta Browne stands for nothing but Greta Browne.

And this is a small issue, but since when did greens decide it was a good idea to pay $2 per signature on a nomination petition? The potential for abuse is glaring.

Thanks for your comment.

Peter said...

This is a rant, but I agree with much of it. I too am disappointed that any Green would take money from the far-right and thus put the end before the means.

As I said in my earlier comment, you are right to ask for an accounting of -- and accountability for -- these contributions. I think the candidates should answer all these questions.

So don't imply that we are 'parting ways' on issues of open government or public participation or accountability. That simply is not true.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, Of course it's a rant. Ranting is what I do. I'm not that sophisticated. I just say what's on my mind.

But I'm glad to know you agree on the importance of open and accountable goverment, which should also include candidates for office. That's why I took issue w/ your suggestion to Greta Browne, made on a yahoo group earlier today, that "It's hard to tell whether responding to these things actually helps anything." Or how about your later statement: "sometimes responding to charges like this emphasizes
their importance relative to other issues."

This mindset is exactly what leads to government in the shadows. It assumes you know what's best and what is really important, and that's what you'll share. Just a tad condescending, don't ya' think?

Now apparently I misunderstood your earlier remarks and am happy to know that you and I share a belief in open and accountable candidates. But the grens who are running for congress don't share your view. One will discuss the matter privately while another flatly said it is "none of your business."

LVDem said...

No politician is completely honest... Green, Red or Blue. Bernie, I hate to sound like the old cranky man (since that's your job), but are you shocked? I mean, really? Didn't Ralph Nader prove to you that it isn't about values: it's about self-promotion.

Damn, I'm depressing myself tonight. I need a beer.

Mike O'Hare said...

you go bernie !!!!!!!!!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, To be honest, I was shocked. Guess I learned something.

Before he was a rock star, I went to Philly now and then just to hear Nader speak. I actually had a few conversations with him. I remember him telling me that, in the world of civic activism, you have to be prepared for failure every day. He said you should just get right back up and keep trying. He was just as eloquent one on one as he was in an audience.

I was disappointed in his last presidentaial race but never questioned his motives.

I've also met Romanelli, and wasn't surprised to learn he was using Rs to try to get on the ballot. He was just as crass in public as he was in private. But I thought that was just him. I had no idea his tentacles spread so far and wide.

One of two things will happen from this latest embarrassment. We will either learn that some grens running for congress permitted coordinated expenses funded by Blackwater on their behalf, or we'll learn that the whole thing was a ruse and the money was spent some other way.

In either case, the Green Party of Pa is finished. Enough other blogs have picked up on this story as well as one or two real reporters, thank God. May the party rest in peace.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hey Mike, A lot of people have been saying that to me today. But something always follows the "You go." I think I'm going to green party hell, where I'll be forced to recite the "ten key values" over and over again.

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate the idea of Greens accepting money from the republican party, I think it is important to think about why the republicans are giving it to them. It obviously isn't because they think it will sway congress in their favor, because they aren't going to expect green party members to get ellected (who is?).
The reason they are giving the greens money is that they want to split up Democrat voters so they won't win. In fact, to run the risk of being a conspiracy theorist, I think they would be happy to be found out, because that would only set us at each other's throats, and just spread the feeling of disgust with government around a little bit more. Thus, while exposing this problem, I think you may also be falling into their trap.
Peter Christine, Bethlehem Regurgitator

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, Thanks for your comment and please keep up the terrific job you're doing with The Bethlehem Regurgitator. I love your work. You're a gifted young writer and have quite a social conscience for a young man.

You're right. Charlie Snelling and Blackwater USA have not converted to the Green Party, and don't give a hoot about our shameful ballot access laws. They want Santorum to win and don't want Dems to retake the House. So they throw some money at the Greens, figuring that this will draw votes from the Dems and increase Republican odds.

I don't fault them. They don't stand for reform. I do, however, fault any Green who knowingly accepts a dime of blood money, and that is what it is. It is completely contrary to Gren party principles.

Let me explain what happened. I was doing research for a post about Dent and Dertinger's campaign finances. In the course of checking them out, I decided to look at Greta Browne, the Green. That's what led me to the Luzerne County Green party and some $96k in recent contributions from archconservatives as well as over $40k in "coordinated expenditures" to support Greens in Pa seeking congressional seats.

Naturally, I wanted to know what was going on, and one of the grens actually confirmed receipt of some of this blood money, acknowledged he knew the source, and admitted depositing it in his personal account. I also learned that Greens were actually paying for signatures, which sems very undemocratic to me.

I wrote my initial blog and Greta only talked about the $200 and none of the other sources of expenditures. So I pointed that out. I also made the same points w/ the Green running for congress from York.

Now I'm told that Greta will talk to people privately and the York candidate tells me it is "none of your business."

So we have problems with Green values here. First, Greens claim to be driven by grassroots, not Blackwater USA. Second, Greens claim to be interested in open and accoutable officials.

Greens have stopped acting like Greens. In this midterm race, they're no better than the Dems or Reps they claim are controlled by special interests.

Republicans don't want to destroy the Green party. They want it to thrive and draw Dem votes so that Rs can stay in power. But the Greens have manged to destroy themselves. The party was dying a slow death after the ast presidential election, in which Greta Browne deserted those who signed her petition and threw hwer support to Driscoll at the last minute. And Driscoll never even acknowledged he was against the war. Now we have Blackwater, Snelling, $40k in "coordinated expenditures," payment for signatures. Worst of all, we have candidates who tell someone with questions to mind his own business, and that betrrays a basic misunderstanding of our system of government.

Peter I appreciate your interest and am happy to have heard from you. We may not agree completely on this matter, but it is so refreshing to hear from a young perso who actually cares about his government and I respect your opinion. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bernie,
First of all, I would like to thank you for making me aware of this problem. I have spent the past few days trying to get to the bottom of it. Second, there are some inacuracies in the statements you attribute to me. I would be happy to talk to you over the weekend for an update and clarification.

Titus North
Green Party Candidate, 14th District

Bernie O'Hare said...

Titus, Thanks for your note. I will call. I believe you told me you were aware that Romanelli was going to try to get some money for grens seking ballot access. You called it an informal arrangement. You were aware that this money would be Republican money. Your deposited one or two checks into your personal account and gave another check to a fellow who had collected signatures. I don't think I got that wrong, but if that statement is inaccurate, I'll correct it.

Anonymous said...

Well the only untrue thing I can see that you said is that Derf is from Adams county not York county and the District represents York,Adams and about 1/3 of Cumberland county

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:37, Thanks for the clarification about Maitland's district. The facts are what they are. Luzerne County's Green Party' FEC report, which is available for online inspection by anyone, shows cleary that in the last quarter, Greens pulled in over $90k from archconservatives. That, combined with previous republican contributions, totals over $150k. The FEC report also shows over $40 in "coordinated expenditures" for the benefit of the 4 greens running for Congress in Pa. Whether these candidates actually benefited from all of this is another story. As I said, that money either wen't to candidates or the report is a charade. I don't know and will be very interested to learn and report what Titus North has to say. I called and am waiting to hear from him.


A few points. The only Party poorly run and organized than the Democratic Party is the Green!

They seem to hate people who were Nader supporters. (Talk about ungratefull, Nader is the only reason 95% of Americans know of the Greens, and Cobb the 2004 Green for President LITERLALLY cut and Pasted Naders platform as his very own!)

LVDEM I also must remind to to wipe up the Nader spilt milk. I mean its been on your floor with those sour grapes for 6 years! Stop backing corporate dipsticks like John "What do the lobbyist support before I take a firm stand" Kerry.

I mean Nader wasn't self promoting he was standing up for Unions and Labor remeber those people the ones Clinton Gore slamed the door shut on and spat upon putting through a idea first pimped by Geroge H.W. Bush called The North American Free Trade Agreeement (NAFTA). Or as I like to call it the root of the imigration problems with latin America!(Do the math the numbers of Latin American imigrants has swelled SINCE NAFTA!)

What was John Kerry's 2004 plan for Unions, "I'm not George Bush!" but did it matter? He didn't care about Labor just like George Bush and the "GREAT" Bill Clinton.

My father is a Union constrution worker for almost four decades now. Following 2004 he said to me "My biggest disapointment with John Kerry was Unions and Labor did not mean anything, it was all about him NOT being Bush. We didn't matter to him, we were not Wall Street!"

And he was correct.

Its time the Democrats back LIBERALS and Progressives not Republican wannabes like Hillary, and Kerry! (Both backers of the NAFTA idea, that my father as a board member of his Local then backed.)

And since 2000 the Democrats have ignored Healthcare since the (Pro-Corporate Clinton Plan failed in the early 1990's.)

Maybe Democrats will win more if the LISTEN to liberals not Pollsters and lobbyist!

Oh and as for Blackwater, maybe Greta brown can drive over cars with kids and shoot up Bahgdad!

Greta Browne said...

Bernie -
Please clarify at what point "it was common knowledge that this money [Romanelli's donations] was coming from the far right wing of the Republican party." At the Green Party state meeting on July 31 most delegates present, including me, were startled to hear rumors about Romanelli that weren't confirmed until days later. By this time all petitions had been turned in to be filed.

And I will clarify that I am willing to speak in public on all the issues you have brought up. I agree that the public has a right to know, but by choice I will answer questions somewhere other than on your blog. In the next few days I will post my comments on my website:
- Greta Browne

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Greta Browne: You don't have any obligation to come on my blog and answer questions, but you have an obligation to answer them. When I first discovered this problem last week, you indicated people with questions should contact you privately. Another green running for Congress said it was none of my business. And your advisors were openly suggesting that it wouln't help anything to answer my questions. Were it not for the fact that other blogs and the mainstream media picked up on this story, that is where we would be right now. So if you've decided to explain this whole situation, good. You have an obligation to voters to tell us what the hell is going on with that FEC report.

Now as far as your question to me is concerned, I'm happy to answer. According to statements that Romanelli himself made to the Citizens Voice Times Leader, he decided on 4/29 to use three Republican fundraisers and made no secret about it. "I never made any secret about the money. Heck, without it, the Greens wouldn’t have got on the ballot." Based on Romanelli's own statements, I believe some greens knew for some time that Romanelli had gone to the dark side. Titus North, who is running for Congress in Pittsburgh, said as much to me when I spoke with him right before posting my story. He told me of some form of informal arrangement Romanelli made with Greens seking ballot access under which he would get money from everyone, including republicans, to fund signature drives. Although no promises were made, he said he would try to get money to pay people $2 per signature. This happened in late June or early July. In fact, you confirmed that partially yourself in the one public statement you did make.

In late July, the blogosphere erupted with stories about these Republican contributions. It was commonly known by then for anyone willing to look at the FEC report. And on 8/1, the Philadelphia Inguirer ran its story.

So all of this was common knowledge before you took your first pieces of silver from Romanelli. The first direct payment of $200 was made on August 11, long after this was common knowledge. Other payments were made later.

Rather than admitting this treachery and disavowing it, the Green Party actually denied it. On August 4, call the accusation of GOP donations "misinformation and panicky accusation.". Unfortunately, it was all too true. ALL contributions came from right wing Republicans. This was certainly common knowledge by anyone who took an interest in his government.

You took no steps to distance yourself from the prostitution of your own party. You said nothing about this when you debated two weeks ago in Pen Argyl, although you certainly knew then some improper payments had been made. And when I was the only one asking questions, you refused to address the matter publicly, as you should have done in late July when this first surfaced.

As disgusted as I am that the Greens would take money from the likes of Blackwater, I am even more disgusted by your refusal to account for yourself, which you should have done in late July. This is contrary to the first of your ten key values.

I have no reason to doubt your honesty and am not suggesting that you are in any way a dishonest person. But as a candidate who wants to be part of the US Congress, I expected that you would be a lot more on top of this sort of thing. If you can't manage campaign finances swirling around you, God help us if people like you watch the budget. And those of us who ask questions would be told it's none of our business.

I looked at your website and saw no explanation concerning the $40k supposedly spent for Greens running for Congress. But frankly, I think all this does is prove you are not qualified for that office.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Spike, LVDem doesn't wipe up spilled milk unless it's got some alcohol in it.

I agree with most everything you say. I'm more to the left than most Dems. I agree with almost every criticism of the Democratic party and do agree with almost all the ideals of the Gren party except for its "decentralization" value. Some things, like health care, should be centralized. And some services, like fire and police protection, might be more efficient and professional if they were centralized. But your points are well made.

I suppose that we are all human and have human failings and have a rough time living up to the ideals of any party.

I do wish that ballot access laws were relaxed to make it easier for minor party candidates to get on the ballot.

Thanks for your comment.

Derf Maitland said...

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie. You're like a bully in the playground--you find the smallest kid to pick on, and you don't let up. In this case the smallest kid is the Green Party.

Has the Green Party been stellar in its actions? no. We're a small party with good ideas; our people are not professional politicians--that's the point. But being small, we make mistakes.

In the present matter, there are only two mistakes:

1) should Romanelli have taken the so called "Blood Money?" And here you took my email to you out of context (Oh Bernie Limbaugh). The Green Party's decision on how to view Romanelli's acceptance of this money is a Green party issue--that's why I said it was none of your business. Some Greens were upset, some viewed it as Romanelli's decision. In other words, the acceptance of the "blood" money is, as you argue, a breech of our grassroots ideology, but if you are not Green, and haven't signed onto the platform, it's not your business. It would be like criticizing Arnold Schwartzineger for being Republican yet having a pro-life stance. Unless you're republican, it ain't none of your business.

2) the problem with the filings: All I can say is that given Romanelli's several court challenges by the Democrates, his camp filed the reports in error. Why the error? That he will have to address. All four PA congressional candidates demand an amended filing. Our campaigns received neither donations in, nor expenditures on our behalf from this money.

As a personal note, I did not condone paying for signatures in my district--when some fellow Greens wanted to pull bucks out of their own wallets to pay for some signature, I said absolutely not--if I couldn't get on with volunteer signatures, I didn't want to be on the ballot. If Greens couldn't get me on the ballot voluntarily, then how on earth could they support me in the general election? In my opinion, paid signatures are bad business. (But just to keep the record straight, some paid signature gatherers did collect signatures in my district, but a) they were working for Romanelli (we appeared on the same petition); b) I did not condone the action, and, most importantly c)I didn't need them anyway--I gathered enough volunteer signatures, which, incidentally, were 5 times the amount the Dem or Rep had to gather.

Now to when the Greens knew where the money came from--here I can only speak for myself. I knew a few weeks before our petition deadline (Aug 1st) that Romanelli had money for signatures (as I mentioned above I would not have approved even if it came out of Carl's pocket); but I did not become aware of any Republican Donor's connection until after the deadline. I had never even met Romanelli until September. Unlike you, I don't spend my time blogging all day, googling Romenelli/Bloodmoney etc--I have a life. In fact it was only today, reading this site--yes Bernie, time to pat yourself on the back--that I've heard the names, like Blackwater, as being "the" Republican donors. So I think it is very cheap of you to put as a posting headline: Green Congressional Candidates: Blackwater Money "None of Your Business." You've taken two separate phrases "Blackwater Money" and "None of Your Business" and put them together trying to make it appear that there's some smoking gun or something. If you think taking money from these donors is unethical, then let me ask, is cutting and pasting in an effort to sensationalize and distort the truth unethical? Come on Bernie, fess up!

One last thought, before you take this posting and cut and paste parts out of context, if accepting this "blood" money is soooo wrong in your book, then why oh why are you not going after the truly big bucks of "blood" money that are donated to the Democratic and Republican Parties? I'm sure the chump change that Romanelli got is dwarfed in comparison to what the two majors get all the time. Why won’t you look into that? (Dear Reader of the Lehigh Valley Ramblings--hold Bernie accountable to this. If he's now the big-time blogger from breaking this urgent news story, then finding "blood" in the two majors parties should be a walk in the park for him. And you might want to have him do it before the election, let you accuse him of anti-Green bias.)

And Bernie, don’t try to hide behind “getting at the truth” as your excuse to be a bully: that’s a conservative radio trick. I just ask you to be fair.

Derf Maitland
Green Party Candidate
19th Congressional District
Which includes Adams, York and part of Cumberland

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Maitland, Let's see. 1) Your party files a report listing over $150k in contributions from right wing republicans. 2) Congressional candidates like you are listed as beneficiaries of $40k. 3) By your own admission, you've known for months that Romanelli used blood money. 4) You knew for months that people were paid per signature. 5) When I confronted you about all this, I was first threatened with libel and then told it is "none of my business."

I stand by every word I wrote.

After you assault me personally, which you continue to do in your comment on my blog, you call me a bully?

After your party is caught in bed w/ Halliburton and Blackwater, you call me a right winger.

Like in a mirror, buddy, Guys like you are bad for government, no matter what party they infest with their poison.

Anonymous said...

Hello Bernie,

This is Titus North. I am sorry to take so long to post the clarifications and corrections on you blog. My first order of business had to be to address the problems that you kindly made me aware of. I want to emphasize that I am not accusing you of deliberately misreporting. It may be that I wasn't making myself clear when we spoke, it may be that you misunderstood me, or it may be that there are distinctions which seem unimportant to you but are significant to me.

>[Titus North] spoke vaguely of an informal arrangement in which
>Romanelli had promised Green congressionals $2 per signature over
>the July 4 holiday.

There was no promise to or arrangement with Green congressional candidates. There was an offer made by Carl to Green Party volunteers who had already been collecting signatures for our state-wide candidates (senator, governor, lieutenant governor) for months. He did not contact me about it. Rather, I heard about it through informal but reliable sources, and I suppose that most other volunteers heard about it in a similar way. Remember, we are a very decentralized party, and much in the way of internal communications is sacrificed at the altar of grassroots democracy. At that time, I think most of us thought that the effort to collect enough signatures to get the state-wide candidates on the ballot was hopeless, and I for one was dubious of his ability to make good on the offer of payment. On the other hand, my own drive to get on the ballot was very much on track, and I continued to collect signatures.

I want to publicly state that I worked hard to get our state-wide candidates on the ballot from March through July, and then in August and September worked tirelessly to keep Carl on the ballot. Specifically, I collected almost 2000 signatures from people in the 14th District on petitions that counted towards four candidates -- the three state-wide candidates and myself. I also collected hundreds of signatures from voters outside the 14th District on petitions that counted towards the three state-wide candidates but NOT myself. During August and September I spent the better part of four weeks in Harrisburg at the Secretary of State's office defending both my ballot position (successfully) and Carl's (unsuccessfully) from a bogus challenge by Bob Casey that, for a time, my opponent Mike Doyle was persuaded into joining. (At some point I will publish the full story of what happened to me in Harrisburg, which to my amazement was completely ignored by the press.) During my time in Harrisburg, I spent five days reviewing signatures from my district. The rest of the time I reviewed signatures from other districts that had nothing to do with my ballot status, only Carl's. This was because Bob Casey's lawyers forbid me from reviewing my own petitions in order to slowdown the process of proving that I had the necessary number of signatures (which they privately admitted to us during the first week they knew I had). They hoped that by depriving me of my home, job, and family for enough weeks they could harass me into giving up. I persevered by camping in a tent to avoid lodging costs and doing my translation work in a stairwell during breaks. I am telling you this to emphasize how hard I worked for our slate of candidates in general and how much of my work was for Carl in particular.

>North admits depositing two checks from the Luzerne County Green Party in his personal account...

This is accurate. These were wage payments to me as a worker, and NOT contributions to the Titus North for Congress campaign, which has its own bank account and is its own entity. This may seem like an unimportant distinction to you, but it is extremely significant and one any candidate must be very clear about. The payments to me as an individual (for work done during much of July) were personal income, which is reported to the IRS and taxed (at a rather high rate, I might add). It went into my family budget.

I must emphasized that the Titus North for Congress campaign RECEIVED NOT A SINGLE PENNY from Carl or the Luzerne County Green Party. The $4800 in spending on my behalf listed by Carl's campaign in its FEC filing is erroneous, and I have insisted he amend his report and correct this error. I know that Derf, Greta, and Dave Baker have demanded the same. Carl has arranged to meet with the FEC and will amend his report to correct these errors. Unlike personal income, campaign contributions are not taxed or reported to the IRS, but instead are subject to FEC rules and filing requirements and must be used for campaign purposes, not personal purposes. I want to reiterate that the distinction between personal income based on wage compensation for services provided and campaign contributions is very important and based in law, even if it is not obvious to some. I paid about $900 in taxes on the $1890 I received because it was a wage payment to me as an individual. Had it been a contribution to my campaign, I would not have had to pay the tax, but the fact is that it was a wage payment to me. However, I have since returned the $1890 in wages in full that I received from the Luzerne County Green Party for work I did for Carl during those weeks in July. This is not because I consider it blood money or feel that I was wrong to take it. The reason is that I worked hard to get Carl and the other state-wide candidates on the ballot over a period of six months, with all but a few weeks of that work being on a voluntary basis. By returning the payments for my July work, it makes the entire six month effort a voluntary one. I had actually already made the decision to return the wages when I learned two weeks ago that he was being forced to pay the Democrat law firm $91,000 in court costs associated with removing him from the ballot. Still, returning the wages should make it clear to everyone that there is no financial connection between my campaign and Carl's even without explaining the difference between wages paid to me as an individual and donations made to my campaign.

>He knew this money was coming from Republicans, although he didn't
>know specifically that donors included the likes of a military
>contractor and a Haliburton subsidiary.

In the one conversation I had with Carl where he mentioned his fund raising activities, he said he was trying to raise funds from all sources: Green, Independent, Democrat, and Republican. Our conversation was in June, and he gave me no indication of how much he had raised at that point or what the breakdown was in terms of party affiliation of donor. I don't think that his fund raising efforts had made that much headway at the time. As for Republican donors, he indicated that they were people who supported at least some of the Green Platform (opposition to NAFTA and the WTO, support for the Constitution, support for main street small businesses over strip malls and Walmarts). He did not say that he was seeking any funds from people whose specific aim was throw the election to Santorum. The first time I heard this was three months later in September when KDKA radio's Chris Moore hosted the two of us on his Saturday evening talk radio show. (I was in the studio, Carl was calling in from Wilkes-Barre.) Carl said on the air that he had used the "vote-splitting" argument to persuade Republicans to contribute to him. He said that he personally did not believe that his presence on the ballot would be advantageous to Santorum, but had made the decision on his own and with no consultation with the Green Party or its other candidates to use this argument. For my part, I said that I would never use this argument and in fact had not even started any fund raising attempts. The only funds I had raised at that point were from unsolicited contributions from genuine supporters, and my fund raising efforts through election day will consist only of a mailer to registered Greens in my district and a house party that will be attended by genuine supporters.

I have never bought into the logic that the appearance by Greens or Nader on the ballot “spoil” elections or siphon votes away from Democrats. Gore actually won the election with Nader on the ballot (and I would say BECAUSE Nader was on the ballot) while Kerry did far worse despite chasing Nader out of the election. In fact, I am convinced that Casey could much more easily win with Carl on the ballot than off the ballot, because Casey would have to do that much less speaking at debates (which is obviously not his strong suit) and Carl could have devastated Santorum on the war and many other issues. Moreover, I expect that I will pick up a fair share or votes from registered Republicans. Some of it will simply be anti-Doyle or anti-Democrat votes that have nowhere else to go (there is no Republican on the ballot in my race), but there will also be Republicans who know me and like me and support enough of my platform to be willing to overlook my positions that they may disagree with. While I am a harsh critic of the Bush Administration and of Congress (the Republican majority and the Democrat "opposition" alike), I do not engage in the blanket bashing of Republicans. Many Republicans (small business types, for example) are as much taken for granted and neglected by their party as African-Americans are taken for for granted and neglected by the Democrats. These Republicans should be looking for a third party. While I have not yet received a campaign contribution from a Republican, I know some Republicans who have a “North for Congress” bumper sticker on their cars. You must remember that myself and many other Greens are former Democrats who can no longer support the Democrat Party and feel that the Democrats are not only providing a phony alternative to the Republican Party but are actively suppressing the emergence of a real alternative and thus fully share the guilt with the Republicans for the current state of affairs. (Case in point, in 2004 the Democrats nominated a pro-war presidential candidate, harassed the anti-war Nader of the ballot in most states, and allowed the Bush administration to continue in office by failing to provide a real anti-war alternative to the voters.)

One final note on this subject. The Democrats have been in decline for decades because they operate on the assumption that voters are set in their political beliefs. Republican leaders like Reagan, Gingritch, and to an extent the neocons hold the opposite assumption and have been successful in transforming voters' beliefs. As a result, these Republicans are pulling the country to the right, and the Democrats simply follow. Greens and Naderites are not simply providing themselves as a vote receptacle for lefties who would otherwise stick with the Democrats, but are actually espousing principles and making arguments that draw the public towards them. Our country needs to be pulled away from a mindset of militarism and paranoia, and not simply have that mindset catered to by a slightly less reactionary party.

>It was blood money.
I suppose you will continue to associate Carl with "blood money" no matter what I say, but I do want to spell out my views. I have worked in the financial markets most of my adult life. I currently produce a translated digest of the daily Japanese financial press. I sell it to the Thomson Corporation, which in turn sells the product to financial institutions and corporations across the globe. They have never shown me their client list, but I have no doubt that it includes banks, corporations, and other institutions whose activities cause violence and misery through the world. By your logic, my translating income should also be considered "blood money" because it is only two degrees removed from entities engaged in objectionable activities. I am sure many if not most people in this country receive paychecks that are one or two or three degrees removed from corporate "blood money". Does that make us “whores”?

Furthermore, I am sure you are aware that the Democrat Party is running a pro-war candidate for Senate just as they ran a pro-war candidate for President in 2004. With Carl out of the race, Pennsylvania voters choice is simply whether they want a Democrat or a Republican manager for the war. If Carl's donors are the ultra-conservatives use say they are and he suckered them into financing a genuine peace alternative, why is that so much worse than the Democrats shoving a pro-war candidate down our throats year after year when you and I and most of the people in this state want peace? Please save your venom for the Democrats who are actually supporting the War you oppose rather than one individual Green who, in Robin Hood fashion, decided to use this so-called “blood money” to oppose the war.

All of our candidates and party leaders are currently trying to get to the bottom of this situation and want to respond appropriately. I for one feel that none of the money allegedly spent by the Luzerne County Green Party on my behalf as listed in their FEC report benefited me at all, because my volunteers were already on target to meet our signature requirement and would have continued to collect signatures regardless of any monetary incentive. Also, Carl never represented his offer as anything other than an effort to help the state-wide candidates get enough signatures to appear on the ballot. We were helping him, not the other way around. Furthermore, we never agreed to be part of a coordinated federal campaign (I had explicitly and emphatically rejected the idea the one time it was broached to me by an intermediary), and we were never notified that any funds were being spend on our behalf. Still, if Carl's meeting with the FEC this week results in an advisory that any funds be listed as spending on my campaign's behalf, I will make whatever reimbursement is necessary to completely separate my campaign's finances from his.

Until Carl meets with the FEC, this is as much as I can say. I still have considerable reserves of sympathy for him because of his being unfairly vilified by the press and harassed by the lawyers hired by Casey. Because Casey is a pro-war politician, I could never have voted for him in the first place, but after having myself been harassed and threatened with law suits by his team of professional liars, I no longer can even view Casey as the lesser of two evils. His campaign's conduct shows nothing but contempt for democracy.

While you don't seem to be particularly sympathetic to our party, you have done us a great service by bringing this situation to our attention. I am grateful for that, and that is why I feel obliged to use your blog to clarify my position. I have not gone over all of the corrections and clarifications that I wanted to make, but I know that I have written too much already. I am still available to talk to you if you so desire.

Titus North
Green Party Candidate for Congress
PA District 14

Bernie O'Hare said...

Titus, No need to apologize for a long post. Feel free to post as much as you'd like. I'm noting it was made on 10/26, ten days after my original post and 11 days after you and I spoke. I'd also like to note that I called you three times during this period in reponse to a post on my blog, and you did not return the call. Perhaps you did not get my message, but I'm making this notation so it's clear that I did try to get in touch with you.

I don't want to get into a "he said she said" situation with you. We can agree as follows: 1) The FEC report reveals that Luzere County's greens picked up over $150k from GOP donors; 2) Accepting this money is conmtrary to green values; 3) You deposited some of this money in your own account; 4) You not only went along w/ a payment per signature scheme, but participated yourself; 5) your party failed to condemn this practice when the FEC first made the public aware of it in late July; and 6) you appear to hate Dems mor than Rs.

I hope you insist that the FEC report is corrected. I'm not going to hold my breath.

I also appreciate your honesty. You're the only Green running for Congress who has tried to be fully responsive.

derf maitland said...

It's "Look" in a mirror buddy--and I make the same observation of you.

Bernie, I notice that you do not refute virtually any points that either I or Titus have brought forth. I'm wandering if you even read our entries.

Your 1 through 5 analysis of my position is bogus. I've already refuted them. But I guess you won't let the truth get in the way of a good blog.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Maitland, You've refuted nothing. All you've established, and rather clearly, is that you are an overbearing hypocrite who can't stand the same criticism that you direct at the major parties. "Do as we say, not as we do?" But then again, this is none of our business now, isn't it? That was your reaction when you were first confronted, along with the threat to file a libel suit. So go file it. I'm not holding you back. Now, a week after the accusation was made, you've concocted a lengthy and rambling response, and I'm supposed to accept it? Think again, buddy.

What I said before, and I'll repeat it again, is that FEC records show that over $40k in blood money was spent on Congressional greens. Now either this happened or the FEC report is a lie. In either case, somebody is misleading both the public and the FEC. In either case, someone has some explaining to do, and you're one of them. But I'm no longer interested in what you have to say. You can explain it to the FEC, and rest assured that someone will have questions. You can tell them it's none of their business. See what that gets you.

Mr. North, whose post I did read, made excellent points. I did not respond in length because my blog was down for several hours last night. (10/25). I appreciated his answer and honesty and said so. I have now spoken to enough green members and read enough prior news accounts and blog reports to know the infusion of GOP money into Romanelli's campaign was common knowledge by late July. Not only did the green party fail to do anything about this, but it actively mislead the public by issuing a press release on 8/4 that characterized these truthful reports as "misinformation." That press release was never retracted.

As promoters of grassroots democracy, you all had an obligation to speak out against this prostitution of your party by big money interests. But you did nothing. Some of you participated in a pay per signature scheme. Some of you accepted this blood money. Whether it was a campaign contribution or a personal payment, it is inconsistent with green party values.

Now Mr. North states he is pushing to have the FEC report amended. He needs to do this, and so do you. As I've said all along, something is seriously amiss. I respect what Mr. North has said and may want to post it separately as a blog post.

I am interested in accountability. Mr. North has been responsive, while you've engaged in name-calling.