Former Aides Say Ron Paul Signed Off On Racist Newsletters

Yet more revelations about Ron Paul's newsletters.

The basic defense that we’ve gotten from Ron Paul to the charges that the newsletters that were published under his name while he was out of Congress in the 1990s is that he was not directly involved in the publication and was unaware of what was being published under his name. Of course, there’s also been some evidence that he was more aware of the content of those newsletters than he now seems willing to admit, but there’s been no direct testimony from others regarding Paul’s involvement in the project. Until now that is. Today, The Washington Post is out with a story quoting a number of former Paul supporters as saying that Paul was heavily involved in the publication of the newsletters, and in the decision to include provocative racial content as a way to boost subscriptions:

[P]eople 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 newsletters point to a rarely seen and somewhat opaque side of Paul, who has surprised the political community by becoming an important factor in the Republican race. 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 at various points, according to those familiar with the operation. Public records show Paul’s wife and daughter were officers of the newsletter company and foundation; his daughter also served as his campaign treasurer.

(…)

A person involved in Paul’s businesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid criticizing a former employer, 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.”

(…)

Ed Crane, the longtime president of the libertarian Cato Institute, said he met Paul for lunch during this period, and the two men discussed direct-mail solicitations, which Paul was sending out to interest people in his newsletters. They agreed that “people who have extreme views” are more likely than others to respond.

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.

The Spotlight was a popular magazine on the far, far right of American politics in the 80s and 90s that often gave positive coverage to political figures such as Pat Buchanan and David Duke, along with coverage of so-called Trilateral Commission and Bilberberg conspiracies. To say that it stayed into racism and anti-Semitism is to put it mildly. However, it’s no surprise that the readers of such a publication might be attracted to a newsletter that was publishing some of the things that Paul’s Survival Report published during the relevant period.

Reason’s  Nick Gillespie pretty much sums up how I think many libertarians, though not this particular libertarian, feel about this whole affair:

When you go back and look at the actual newsletters, the level of offensiveness and sheer stupidity is stunning. In one “Survival Report,” for instance, the writer defends “Poor Marge Schott!,” the rancid owner of the Cincinnati Reds who defended Hitler, railed against “sneaky goddamn Jews,” and at one point whined about “million-dollar niggers” (one of whom, Eric Davis, had helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series). Schott was fined for such comments and eventually squeezed out of baseball. The writer of the Surivial Report likens such actions to being prosecuted for “thought crimes from the novels of Orwell and Huxley [sic].” While regularly arguing that businesses are private spaces that can set their own rules for employment and service, the writer argues that “Schott’s leftist critics have no concern for the First Amendment.” What’s more, people who get bent out of shape by racist language “never seem to mind whenever someone uses the Creator’s name in vain?” The writer also doesn’t bother quoting Schott’s slurs, a classic strategy in defending the indefensible.

(…)

As I wrote in late December, I don’t think the newsletters invalidate Paul’s candidacy or his years of principled small-government legislating. But they remain disturbing and, more to the point, show a real failure of leadership first in their existence and second in his unwillingness to get to the bottom of a story that troubles some of his most sympathetic followers. His unwillingness to settle things once and for all is a sad reminder that no politician is perfect, even one who wants to cut $1 trillion from next year’s budget.

One of the reasons that Paul gets a break on some of this stuff, is simply because of his steadfastness on issues of principles. I can certainly understand that, but at some point one has to stand up and denounce something that’s wrong, and Paul not only didn’t do that in the 1990s, he apparently consciously decided to appeal to it in order to make his business more profitable. Far be it from me to deny someone the right to make a profit, but when you do it by pandering to base racial hatreds you’ve got some questions to answer for it. Whether one believes in those ideas or not, providing voice to them is a tacit endorsement, especially if one if a former Congressman and Presidential candidate.  Of course, libertarians would not have had this problem if they’d rallied behind Gary Johnson instead, but I suppose that’s water under the bridge.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    A politician lied to cover his own ass? The deuce you say!

    But really, the news here is that Ron Paul really is Just Another Politician. He has skeletons in his closet he doesn’t want pulled out. I wonder how many of his supporters will double down on the kool-aid after this…

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    @legion: I wonder how many of his supporters will double down on the kool-aid after this…

    All of them?

  3. Fiona says:

    I never really doubted that Paul had a role in producing those newsletters. I can certainly see why he didn’t want to own up to that role, but this kind of stuff does indeed make him look like “just another politician” (TM). I’d be more upset about it if I thought Paul was truly serious about his presidential run as opposed to using the campaign as a sounding board to get his ideas out to a broader public. His viewpoints about foreign policy and the War on Drugs are outside the normal box, but ideas worth discussion.

  4. junyo says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Beat me too it.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Offhand, my guess is that these revelations don’t make a bit of difference to Rep. Paul’s campaign. He has a core of support. They won’t waver. They support him because of his free market, small government, and anti-interventionist views and don’t much care about anything else.

    Revelations like this make it even less likely that he’ll become the eventual candidate or, in the exceedingly unlikely eventuality of his becoming the candidate, being elected. They won’t stop him from being the dog in the manger in the Republican campaign which is probably the role he wants.

  6. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Fiona: Gary Johnson (as Doug noted) is in line with Paul on his ‘sane’ side, with little of the crazy stuff. It is unfortunate that he didn’t really get checked out by a whole lot of people.

  7. How long till the Paulistas come around claiming you hate liberty and the Constitution, Doug, and that you must be a warmongering neeeeeeee-o-con and part of the New World Order? And we should be talking about (insert Paulista talking point here) instead of debunked and old newsletters or something like that.

  8. fallibilist says:

    D. Mataconis,

    My fellow Scarlett Knight, the reason that the dark depths of these newsletters should not be further plumbed is that Ron Paul is not going to be elected President (as anyone with eyes and half-a-brain can see).

    So what we have is an old man with cult-of-personality who is, despite his manifold flaws, raising very important issues. (Isn’t the U.S.’s military overextension an important issue? Isn’t its runaway spending a Very Bad Thing? Isn’t the unconstitutional federal War on Drugs a pitiable waste?)

    Now the old crazy man (with the sprinkling of good, nay vital, ideas) wants to cover up his history of racist statements. He’s running away from racism as far and as fast as his elderly, decrepit legs will take him. Run, Ron, Run!

  9. An Interested Party says:

    Jeez, does it even matter at this point? Ron Paul is nothing more than a fringe candidate…always has been, always will be…

  10. Xerxes says:

    Let’s see, three “sources” where one is a disgruntled ex-employee who was fired for misconduct, another who is conveniently anonymous, and the third who is a former secretary whose account is contradicted by a half-dozen other associates that the article quoted but Doug conveniently left out in the excerpt. Yep, yellow journalism strikes again.

  11. legion says:

    @fallibilist: Even though he’ll never be elected, he has a solid core of support. And sooner or later, someone else who _could_ get elected is going to latch onto Paul’s zanier ideas to try & snap up that support. It’s important to do things like this because it’s important to debunk this crap – the idea that going back to the gold standard, abolishing all public services, etc, etc would do anything other than destroy society _has_ to made clear. Because FSM knows the media will never do it for us.

  12. fallibilist says:

    @legion: Wait, the media is never going to make it clear that it’s not a good idea to abolish public services or trade the dollar in for some new-fangled currency?

    Say what you want about the MSM, but they’re not exactly libertarian shills.

  13. sam says:

    If anyone is interested, Julian Sanchez and Dave Weigel finger Lew Rockwell as the author of those racist screeds. See, Who Wrote Ron Paul’s Newsletters?.

  14. Mark says:

    @Xerxes: The lengths that some people go to rationalize their way out their own shortcomings is astounding. Nicely done sir.

  15. Pat says:

    @An Interested Party: Fringe candidates don’t get 21% of the vote in Iowa and 23% of the vote in New Hampshire. Fringe candidates don’t poll like Mitt Romney polled in 2008. Fringe candidates don’t attract thousands to rallies and have New York Times bestselling books. If all you’ve got is that Ron Paul is a “fringe” candidate, I suggest you move back to 2008. Times are changing.

  16. Brummagem Joe says:

    @fallibilist: “So what we have is an old man with cult-of-personality who is, despite his manifold flaws, raising very important issues.”

    Oh that’s alright then. It doesn’t matter he’s a racist because he’s raising important issues. Join the Buchanan club.

  17. Nick says:

    “Far be it from me to deny someone the right to make a profit, but when you do it by pandering to base racial hatreds you’ve got some questions to answer for it.”

    Wow. And what have you to say about the Republican Party’s use of the Southern Strategy, admitted to by at least three former RNC Chairmen?

    Moreover, what have you to say about those Republicans (all of them) who blithely go along as their party uses a racist strategy for electoral profit (does it matter if the gain is monetary or electoral)?

  18. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Xerxes:

    Yep Ron Paul was never in a million miles of these publications. How could anyone, anyone for one moment believe he had anything whatsoever to do with this. It’s scandalous what the papers will print these days.

  19. legion says:

    @fallibilist: Well, have you ever seen a notable MSM report going into what the real-world effects of Paul’s ideas would be? If you have, please point me to it, but most everything I’ve seen just talks about how earnest & sincere he is and never goes any deeper…

  20. An Interested Party says:

    Times are changing.

    In his defense, he is much better than Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, or the three clowns who are left with him in the GOP primary…sadly for you, that won’t be enough to get him anywhere in the race……21% in Iowa, 23% in New Hampshire, thousands at rallies, and New York Times bestselling books don’t get anyone closer to the White House…unless of course, his campaign isn’t really about that…

  21. Jim Henley says:

    So I just cooked up my own conspiracy theory regarding the newsletters that I kind of like. If I’m Ron Paul, there’s a perfectly good reason I’m reluctant to name the authors. (t’s generally believed that more than one person wrote them, with Rockwell or Rothbard as the prime mover depending on who you talk to.) If . . .

    . . . one of them was my young son Rand.

  22. Jr says:

    It will be fun to see how the Paul fanboys spin this……

  23. Robert says:

    So what makes you a worse politician, one who didn’t keep a close eye on a newsletter that let 8 racially sensitive post be submitted over a course of 15 years which included 100’s of newsletters written by different authors or having affair 2 times on different wives?

    People are so quick to call it a closed case and make it an accuse to write him off,but if you review his 20 years of interviews and videos he has never said a racist comment.So while he may have not payed close enough attention he is defiantly not a racist.

    Should Ronald Regan be wrote off for not knowing about Iran contra,should Rupert Murdoch be held accountable for everything posted on his network?

    If you say yes what is the proper way to be accountable?He has said he disavows those comments,what more do you want?

    No person is perfect but it seems people are using this as a excuse why they say they cant support him,yet in the same breath there willing to overlook every other politicians short comings.

    Disagree with the man because you dont like his ideas but atleast treat him with the same judgement as you treat the others.

  24. Jim Henley says:

    @Admin: Please check comment-posting module. Pro-Paul comments from 2007 are showing up as if they were freshly posted. This may seem like a minor problem, but imagine how “Robert” would feel if we judged his contribution to this thread by what we know today, as opposed to what was known whenever he wrote the above. Even the tone, kind of whiny, prone to false accusations and full of special pleading, would probably embarrass its author, who has probably matured considerably since those days.

  25. Robert says:

    @Jim Henley:

    Uh i posted this Today Jan 29,2012,not 2007.Im not sure i understand the Pro Paul reference?Is this blog only allow one opinion of a subject?

    The facts are still that there was a Newsletter with some racial sensitive lines in it,very few btw out of the years of Newsletters.The Authors are unknown.

    The assumptions are a statement by a secretary Renae Hathway that Paul reviewed them and was aware of there contents.

    So since its one persons word against another,the only logical way to determine the truth is to see if there is any correlating evidence in other things he has said to substantiate the claim.As i stated above if you take everything hes said,then you have to come to the conclusion that he isnt a racist.Weather he knew is still a unknown.

    So the next step in reasoning is, does his lack of proclaimed awareness of his articles make him unfit to be president?That is where i posed the question that based on similar acts of being unaware, were others people deemed unfit for there positions?

  26. Robert says:

    @Mark:

    The lengths that some people go too,to try an create a negative image in the peoples mind of a Good man is astounding. Nicely done sir.

  27. Rob in CT says:

    @Jim Henley:

    Heh, well played sir.

    I’d already put Ron Paul in the “happy to profit [money and/or votes] by catering to racists and other cranks” category. This doesn’t change the story much (I already suspect it).

    It really is sad that Gary Johnson, the guy with similar views on the drug war and national security overreach but (as far as I know) lacking the baggage, is ignored. Maybe he just doesn’t have the required charisma. Or perhaps it’s a fatal dose of ethical standards…