SEPTEMBER 15, 2012 BY
THE WESTERN CENTER FOR JOURNALISM
THE WESTERN CENTER FOR JOURNALISM
Imagine you’re a private citizen; you’ve built up a successful business through years of hard work and enterprise. And now you want to give back, by supporting a candidate for president that shares your views. You can afford to donate a million dollars to the candidate, and so you do. You even take a figurehead role in the campaign, as large donors often do, as a measure of recognition. Then you wake up one day to learn that your entire life and livelihood have been ransacked—just as surely as if identity thieves had stolen your credit card. Only these thieves are employed by a shadow company that, you learn, is employed by the President himself.
It sounds like a cheap premise for a pulp novel.
But it’s not—it’s exactly what just happened to Frank VanderSloot, CEO of an Idaho Falls wellness-products company named Melaleuca. Mr. VanderSloot gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, a Super PAC that supports Mitt Romney.
Soon after making his donation, Mr. VanderSloot discovered that a certain Michael Wolf was trying to dig up court records on Mr. VanderSloot. But not just any records; Mr. Wolf was looking for dirt. He was looking for any documents on Mr. VanderSloot’s past marriages, or past grievances with former employees.
This is where Kim Strassel’s reporting in the Wall Street Journal nailed it. Her investigation revealed that Michael Wolf had sent a number of faxes to the clerk’s office of the Bonneville County Courthouse, trying to find something cheap and tawdry to hang on Mr. VanderSloot.
He failed at that. But not before Ms. Strassel figured out exactly who “Michael Wolf” really was. In his document requests of the court, he listed only his name and a private cellphone number. But he had been, until just a few months prior, a law clerk on the Democratic side of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Seeking the more glamorous life, apparently, he then went to work for a company named Fusion GPS—which is in the strategic intelligence business, aka, opposition research, aka dirty tricks.
When Ms. Strassel was finally able to get someone at Fusion GPS to answer the phone, she was met with one “no comment” after another. But clearly someone at Fusion GPS was worried that they could easily be linked with the President, so they sent an email to Ms. Strassel saying:
“Frank VanderSloot is a figure of interest in the debate over civil rights for gay Americans. As his own record on gay issues amply demonstrates, he is a legitimate subject of public records research into his lengthy history of legal disputes.”
The “gay” charge was a total fabrication, a stutter step meant to throw off Ms. Strassel’s attention and presumably that of her readers at a time when the president was taking considerable heat for his flip-flops on the gay agenda: did he support it, did he not; was he himself gay, was he not? The story was changing by the day, by the hour. And throwing out a totally unfounded but salacious comment that a supporter of Romney’s is a gay basher would have exactly the effect intended: deflect attention away from Obama.
Lacking the decency gene, the Obama campaign has kept focus on what matters to them: keeping their and Obama’s job and power.
We think people see Mr. VanderSloot for exactly who he is: someone whose only crime was to donate a million dollars to a Super PAC. He is just another name on the long list of people on Obama’s enemies list.