"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Romney Donor Frequently Threatens Critics

Normally I save something like this for the "link fests" but something about a billionaire using Scientology like tactics to silence critics through abuse of the law just really annoys me. It is also those times that the internet can be its most powerful.

A Salon article entitled "Billionaire Romney donor uses threats to silence critics" spells out some of the details. The article is about Mitt Romney supporter and billionaire Frank VanderSloot. He lives in Idaho and is CEO of Melaleuca, Inc. A company has a Better Business Bureau logo on its front page. There might be reasons for that logo being there. A 2004 Forbes article that described the company as "a pyramid selling organization, built along the lines of Herbalife and Amway." The company this individuals has run for years has to agree to "not engage in the marketing and promotion of an illegal pyramid and accused by the Food and Drug Administration of "deceiving consumers about some of its supplements." Draw your own conclusions about the company and its leadership from that.

Historically speaking, the only ones that benefit in a pyramid selling scheme are the one or so people (like the CEO) at the very tip top of the pyramid. Currently he, like many billionaires, have decided to fund the campaigns of various GOP candidates through SuperPACs that were made legal by the five conservatives members on the Supreme Court that decided that corporations are human and should have near unlimited spending power in politics. This is the kind of person that Mitt Romney courts as a supporter. From the Salon article, here are some of the behaviors he, his company and those around him engage in.

- Forced Mother Jones to edit an article to meet the demands of Melaleuca's lawyers. Note that the title "Pyrmaid-like Company" was not asked to be corrected.
- Forced Forbes to remove an article about VanderSloot's support of Mitt Romney.
- Sued an Idaho website in federal court for "copyright infringement". The infringing document? The letter from the lawyers demanding an article be pulled from the website.
- Used two separate law firms to have an article pulled from The Idaho Agenda website.
- Spearheaded a billboard campaign that asks "Should public television promote the homosexual lifestyle to your children?" against Idaho Public Television for a documentary "It's Elementary" about discussing gay issues with children.
- His wife donated $100,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage in California (recently overturned by the Supreme Court).
- The Post Register uncovered potentially scout-master pedophiles in the Boy Scouts of America. The articles suggest that local and national leaders of the Mormon Church where warned of the pedophiles. VanderSloot's response to the article was to buy full page ads attacking the story and outing the reporter "a homosexual" leading to strangers ringing his doorbell and his partner being fired. The ad says the case was about a single incident occurring in 1988 and a Bishop's response was to work with the accused for "several months until he received assurance from the 'experts' that ...was unlikely to repeat what had happened."
- As Salon points out, "The effect, if not the intent, of these frivolous threats, pure and simple, is to intimidate those who cannot afford to defend themselves from criticizing the very public, politicized acts of Frank VanderSloot and his company."

The full Salon article is worth reading and should be shared across the internet. If a billionaire wants to engage his lawyers in such a way he has that right. Just as people on the internet have a right to point this out. Below is the Rachel Maddow Show's story on the article and other billionaire's supporting current GOP candidates for President.

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