Liveblogging World War II: January 29, 1942
Monetary Policy: The Federal Reserve Is Doing It Wrong...

Why the Republican Party as We Know It Needs to End Now: Ron Paul Story That I Knew Five Years Ago Edition

Jerry Markon and Alice Crites say the obvious:

Ron Paul signed off on racist 1990s newsletters, associates say: Ron Paul, well known as a physician, congressman and libertarian, has also been a businessman who pursued a marketing strategy that included publishing provocative, racially charged newsletters to make money and spread his ideas, according to three people with direct knowledge of Paul’s businesses.

The Republican presidential candidate has denied writing inflammatory passages in the pamphlets from the 1990s and said recently that he did not read them at the time or for years afterward. Numerous colleagues said he does not hold racist views.

But people close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.

“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product…. He would proof it,’’ said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman….

The candidate, who has presented himself as a kindly doctor and political truth-teller, declined in a recent debate to release his tax returns, joking that he would be “embarrassed” about his income compared with that of his richer GOP rivals. Yet a review of his enterprises reveals a sharp-eyed businessman who for nearly two decades oversaw the company and a nonprofit foundation, intertwining them with his political career. The newsletters, which were launched in the mid-1980s and bore such names as the Ron Paul Survival Report, were produced by a company Paul dissolved in 2001. The company shared offices with his campaigns and foundation…. Paul’s wife and daughter were officers of the newsletter company and foundation; his daughter also served as his campaign treasurer….

In the past, Paul has taken responsibility for the passages because they were published under his name. But last month, he told CNN that he was unaware at the time of the controversial passages. "I’ve never read that stuff. I’ve never read — I came — was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written." Paul said.

A person involved in Paul’s businesses… said Paul and his associates decided in the late 1980s to try to increase sales by making the newsletters more provocative. They discussed adding controversial material, including racial statements, to help the business, the person said. "It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government," said the person, who supports Paul’s economic policies but is not backing him for president. “I’m not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman."

The articles included racial, anti-Semitic and anti-gay content. They claimed, for example, that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. "seduced underage girls and boys"; they ridiculed black activists by suggesting that New York be named “Zooville” or “Lazyopolis”; and they said the 1992 Los Angeles riots ended “when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks." The June 1990 edition of the Ron Paul Political Report included the statement: “Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.”

It is unclear precisely how much money Paul made from his newsletters, but during the years he was publishing them…. In 1984, he reported debt of up to $765,000, most of which was gone by 1995, when he reported a net worth of up to $3.3 million. Last year, he reported a net worth up to $5.2 million.

The newsletters bore his name in large print and featured articles on topics ranging from investment advice to political commentary. Frequently written in first person, they contained personalized notes, such as holiday greetings from Paul and his wife, Carol….

In 1984, just before losing a Senate bid and leaving Congress, Paul formed Ron Paul & Associates. He soon began publishing the Ron Paul Investment Letter, initially offering mostly economic and monetary information. Texas tax records listed Paul as president of the business, his wife as secretary, his daughter, Lori Paul Pyeatt, as treasurer, and a longtime Paul associate, Lew Rockwell, as vice president. Ed Crane… said Paul reported getting his best response when he used a mailing list from the now-defunct newspaper Spotlight, which was widely considered anti-Semitic and racist…. Paul’s investment letter was languishing. According to the person involved with his businesses, Paul and others hit upon a solution: to “morph” the content to capi­tal­ize on a growing fear among some on the political right about the nation’s changing demographics and threats to economic liberty.

The investment letter became the Ron Paul Survival Report — a name designed to intrigue readers, the company secretary said. It cost subscribers about $100 a year. The tone of that and other Paul publications changed, becoming increasingly controversial. In 1992, for example, the Ron Paul Political Report defended chess champion Bobby Fischer, who became known as an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier, for his stance on "Jewish questions."…

Rockwell was the main writer of the racial passages, according to two people with direct knowledge of the business and a third close to Paul’s presidential campaign…. Paul "had to walk a very fine line," said Eric Dondero Rittberg, a former longtime Paul aide who says Paul allowed the controversial material in his newsletter as a way to make money. Dondero Rittberg said he witnessed Paul proofing, editing and signing off on his newsletters in the mid-1990s. "The real big money came from some of that racially tinged stuff, but he also had to keep his libertarian supporters, and they weren’t at all comfortable with that," he said….

Hathway described Paul as a “hands-on boss” who would come in to the company’s Houston office, about 50 miles from his home, about once a week. And he would call frequently. “He’d ask, ‘How are you doing? Do you need any more money in the account?’” she said….

In 1996, as Paul ran for Congress again, his business success turned into a potential political liability when his newsletters surfaced in the Texas media. Paul was quoted in the Dallas Morning News that year as defending a newsletter line from 1992 that said 95 percent of black men in the District are “semi-criminal or entirely criminal” and that black teenagers can be “unbelievably fleet of foot.”

“If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them,” the newspaper quoted Paul as saying.

Paul won reelection, then dissolved Ron Paul & Associates in 2001…

Comments