Ron Paul newsletters
Beginning in 1978, for more than two decades, Ron Paul – American physician, libertarian activist, congressman, and presidential candidate – published a variety of political and investment-oriented newsletters bearing his name. By 1993, the business through which Paul published the newsletters was successful enough to be earning in excess of $900,000 per year. In a January 2008 article in The New Republic, James Kirchick wrote that the newsletters "reveal decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays". Coverage of the newsletters created controversy for Paul during both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
Ron Paul helped found the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education. This think tank began publishing a newsletter bearing Paul's name, Dr. Ron Paul's Freedom Report.
In 1984, as he left Congress, Paul also set up Ron Paul & Associates (RP&A), with his wife and daughter and his former congressional chief of staff, Lew Rockwell. The next year, RP&A began publishing several publications including The Ron Paul Investment Letter, The Ron Paul Survival Report, and The Ron Paul Political Report. By 1993, RP&A was earning $940,000 per year. Most articles did not carry a byline, beyond Paul's name in the title and, occasionally, his signature, though several were written in the first person (in Paul's voice).
Several articles in these newsletters contained controversial statements that have been criticized as racist or homophobic, such as, "Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
A December 1992 column on carjacking said "...I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense...the animals are coming." Another newsletter suggested that black activists who wanted to rename New York City after Martin Luther King Jr. rename it "Welfaria," "Zoovile," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," or "Lazyopolis."
An article titled "The Pink House" said "I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities." Another newsletter asserted that HIV-positive homosexuals "enjoy the pity and attention that comes with being sick" and approved of the slogan "Sodomy=Death."
A number of the newsletters criticized civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., calling him a pedophile and "lying socialist satyr". These articles told readers that Paul had voted against making Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a federal public holiday, saying "Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day." During the 2008 and 2012 presidential election campaigns, Paul and his supporters said that the passages denouncing King were not a reflection of Paul's own views because he considers King a "hero".
James Kirchick alleged the newsletters made bigoted comments about Jews, citing its defense of famed chess champion and Holocaust denier Bobby Fisher, writing that he was "politically incorrect on Jewish questions, for which he will never be forgiven, even though he is a Jew." The newsletters also criticized the state of Israel. One Investment Letter called Israel “an aggressive, national socialist state”; a 1990 newsletter discussed the “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to wok [sic] for the Mossad in their area of expertise”; one quoted a "Jewish friend" who said the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was a "setup by the Israeli Mossad".
Most of the controversial statements appeared between 1988 and 1994. When Paul began working toward returning to Congress in 1995, he gave an interview to C-SPAN in which he described the newsletters neutrally as "business-financial", talking about "monetary matters and the gold standard". These newsletters first drew media attention when raised as a campaign issue by Paul's opponent in the 1996 Congressional election, Charles "Lefty" Morris.
Responsibility for articles
During the 1996 reelection campaign Paul did not deny writing the newsletters, and allegedly defended their content, saying that he opposed racism and his remarks about blacks had been taken out of context.
In March 2001, Paul stated that he did not write the commentaries but that he stopped short of denying authorship in 1996 because his campaign advisers had thought it would be too confusing and that he had to live with the material published under his name. In 2011 Paul's spokesperson Jesse Benton said that Paul had "taken moral responsibility because they appeared under his name and slipped through under his watch".
Numerous sources have accused Lew Rockwell, who co-founded the firm that published the newsletters and remained an officer throughout its existence, of writing the racially charged content. In 2008, the libertarian news magazine Reason reported that "a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists" said that Lew Rockwell had been the chief ghostwriter. Former Ron Paul Chief of Staff John W. Robbins (1981–1985) publicly called on Rockwell to say he wrote the "puerile, racist" newsletters, and stated that "all informed people" believe that Rockwell ghostwrote the newsletters. James Kirchick, the author of the original New Republic piece on the scandal, has observed that Rockwell's name also appears on various newsletters as "contributing editor" or (the sole) Editor.
Rockwell concedes that he was involved in the operations of the newsletters, but denies writing them, claiming that his role was confined to writing subscription letters. He also insists that the person who ghost wrote the racially charged pieces "is now long gone" and that he "left in unfortunate circumstances." He has described discussion of the newsletters scandal as "hysterical smears aimed at political enemies."
In January 2012, the The Washington Post reported that several of Paul's former associates said that there was no indication that he had written the controversial passages himself, but three people claimed that Paul had been very involved in the production of the newsletters and had allowed the controversial material to be included as part of a deliberate strategy to boost profits. According to one of the associates, Paul's former secretary (and a self-described supporter of his 2012 Presidential campaign) Renae Hathway, Paul was a "hands-on boss" who would come into the Houston office, about 50 miles (80 km) from home, about once a week. She said, "It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product... He would proof it." She also said, "We had tons of subscribers, from all over the world... I never had one complaint about the content."
Ed Crane, founder and president of the Cato Institute, told Reason that in a discussion of with Ron Paul during the period in which the newsletters were published, Paul said his chief source of campaign contributions was the mailing address for the controversial Spotlight magazine. Reason reports that the now defunct magazine, run by Holocaust Denier Willis Carto, promoted anti-Semitism. Paul again denied the accusations, telling CNN that Hathway had made up what she had said, and that he had no recollection of the alleged conversation with Crane and did not know what Crane was talking about.
During Paul's 2012 presidential campaign, journalist Ben Swann revisited the newsletters story and reported the name of another author, James B. Powell, found in the byline in a 1993 edition of the Ron Paul Strategy Guide – an article titled "How to Protect Against Urban Violence", with purported racist content. In his report Swann said the 2008 coverage by The New Republic had reported that only one of the controversial articles had a byline, but had not identified either the specific issue or the name of the author. However, in a Washington Post piece that argued that, "[on] the topic of Ron Paul’s racist, homophobic and creepy-cum-conspiratorial newsletters, Swann allows his affection for constitutionalist politics to corrupt his judgment," Kirchick claimed that Swann's story on Powell consisted of no original reporting and had been previously documented in Kirchick's earlier pieces on the scandal.
- The newsletters had various names: Dr. Ron Paul's Freedom Report (OCLC 38365640 and 15124395), The Ron Paul Survival Report (OCLC 27301727), the Ron Paul Investment Letter (OCLC 27301651), and the Ron Paul Political Report (OCLC 31695178).
- Kirchick, James (2008-01-08). "Angry White Man: The Bigoted Past of Ron Paul". The New Republic. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
- "TNR Exclusive: A Collection of Ron Paul's Most Incendiary Newsletters". The New Republic. 2011-12-23. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Sanchez, Julian; Weigel, David (2008-01-16). "Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters?". Reason. Retrieved 2008-01-16.
- Bernstein, Alan (May 23, 1996). "Newsletter excerpts offer ammunition to Paul's opponent/GOP hopeful quoted on race, crime". Houston Chronicle.
- Welch, Matt (2008-01-11). "'Old News'? 'Rehashed for Over a Decade'?". Reason. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- Kucinich, Jackie (2011-12-12). "Paul's story changes on racial comments". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Dougherty, Michael (2011-12-21). "The Story Behind Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Rutenberg, Jim (2011-12-25). "Paul Disowns Extremists' Views but Doesn't Disavow the Support". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Hicks, Josh (2011-12-27). "Ron Paul and the racist newsletters (Fact Checker biography)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Beaumont, Thomas (2011-12-28). "Romney rising as a reluctant choice in Iowa". The Arizona Republic. Associated Press. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
- Jan, Tracy (2011-12-19). "Old newsletters stirring scrutiny of Paul's views". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
- Sarlin, Benjy (December 23, 2011). "Shocking Quotes from Ron Paul's Newsletters". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- James, Frank. "Ron Paul's Newsletters Likely to Keep Haunting Him on Campaign Trail". NPR.
- "Ron Paul Newsletters". The New Republic. 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2012-01-13.[dead link]
- Weigel, David. "Exclusive: Ron Paul Responds To New Republic Story". Reason. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- Sonmez, Felicia (2012-01-07). "2012 ABC/Yahoo!/WMUR New Hampshire GOP primary debate (Transcript)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012=01-13.
- Wayne, Leslie (2008-01-22). "Ron Paul's MLK Fund-Raiser". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012=01-13.
- Paul, Ron (1995). "C-SPAN". You tube (interview). Google.
- Robison, Clay (July 25, 1996). "Foe cites '92 Paul newsletter calling Barbara Jordan 'a fraud'". Houston Chronicle.
- Gwynne, S. C. (October 1, 2001). "Dr. No". Texas Monthly.
- Smith, Sonia (December 21, 2011). "Ron Paul's old newsletters come into focus". Texas Monthly.
- Jackie Kucinich, Paul's story changes on racial comments, USA TODAY, 12/21/2011.
- "Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters?" (World Wide Web log). The plank. The New Republic. 2008-01-10. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- Markon, Jerry; Crites, Alice (2012-01-27). "Paul Pursued Strategy of Publishing Controversial Newsletters, Associates Say". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
- "Paul Denies Proofing 'Racist' Newsletter". John King USA (CNN). 2012-01-28. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
- Swann, Ben (2012-01-25). "Reality Check: The Name of a 'Mystery Writer' of One of Ron Paul's 'Racist' Newsletters". Cincinnati, OH: WXIX-TV.
- TNR Staff (December 23, 2011). "TNR Exclusive: A Collection of Ron Paul's Most Incendiary Newsletters". New Republic. The New Republic.