Monday, January 31, 2011

Michele Bachmann’s family farm operating in apparent violation of Wisconsin's financial institutions laws

Bachmann’s deceased father-in-law still registered as agent and general partner for family farm that has provided her federal farm subsidies.
By Karl Bremer

Michele Bachmann’s family farm limited partnership in Buffalo County, WI, still lists her late father-in-law Paul Bachmann as the partnership’s registered agent and general partner with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, even though he has been deceased since May 2009. That puts the partnership in violation of Wisconsin state law, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Financial Institutions.

The Bachmann Farm Family Partnership comprises 951 acres with at least one home on 38 parcels in Independence, WI, with a total assessed value of $664,950. Michele and Marcus Bachmann are partners in the farm partnership, which was established April 12, 2001, with an ownership share valued at between $100,001 and $250,000. Its corporate records on file with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions listed Paul Bachmann of Independence, WI, as the partnership’s general partner and registered agent as of Jan. 31, 2011.

It’s not known who—if anyone—besides Michele and Marcus are involved in the partnership. Wisconsin state law does not require the disclosure of anyone other than the general partner and registered agent for limited partnerships.

According to a Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions spokesman, if a registered agent or general partner dies, the law requires that the partnership file notice with the state. That office has received no notice of a change in general partner or registered agent for the Bachmann Farm Family Limited Partnership since its initial filing in 2001, according to the spokesman. Paul Bachmann died May 20, 2009, so that would appear to put the Bachmanns in violation of the law.

However, the Department of Financial Institutions has no investigatory or enforcement powers, so it’s not clear how the Bachmanns would be brought into compliance.

In Buffalo County’s tax records, the billing address for the partnership’s properties is listed as “c/o Marcus Bachmann, Bachmann Farm Family Limited Partnership,” at the Bachmann’s Stillwater, MN, address.

Bachmann has claimed between $32,503 and $105,000 in income from the farm since 2007, according to her congressional financial disclosure forms for 2007, 2009 and 2010. She still has not reported her 2008 income from the farm on her disclosure form from that year—an apparent violation of yet another law--congressional reporting requirements.

This is the same Bachmann family farm that has collected a total of $154,755 in federal farm subsidies since the partnership was formed in 2001, most of it in corn and dairy subsidies. Paul Bachmann collected a total of $259,332 in federal farm subsidies from 1995-2009. However, it’s not known whether Michele and Marcus were involved in the farm prior to the establishment of the family partnership in 2001.

While Farmer Bachmann has always been happy to collect federal farm subsidies on her family farm, Congresswoman Bachmann recently proposed replacing those subsidies with “farmer savings accounts.” It’s not known whether the Bachmanns, who live in a $1.27 million home on a Stillwater golf course, would open such an account.

Michele Bachmann has sat on the House Financial Services Committee for over four years. She often touts her advanced degree in tax law, and her past as an IRS lawyer. Yet she has a long history of sloppy bookkeeping, questionable financial reporting, and ethics violations, both in the Minnesota State Senate and Congress.

Just last year, the Federal Elections Commission in a 10-page letter rapped the congresswoman’s campaign for 71 improper entries and 18 unacceptable employer or occupation entries in its 2009 end-of-year report.

If Michele Bachmann can't keep her own financial and ethical houses in order, what makes her think she's qualified to tend to the nation's?

Friday, January 28, 2011

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide was evicted from Plymouth offices in 2007

Deadbeat “ministry” run by Bradley Dean Smith given the boot under court order for nonpayment of rent.

By Karl Bremer

Bradley Dean Smith, aka “Bradlee Dean,” and his Annandale-based anti-gay hate “ministry” found out that you can run, but you cannot hide—from the landlord. In 2007, Smith’s Old Paths Church Ministries, dba You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, was evicted under court order from its offices in the Bass Lake Business Centre II in Plymouth for nonpayment of rent.

The eviction was the result of a complaint filed against Old Paths Church Ministries in Hennepin County Housing Court on June 7, 2007, by its landlord, Bass Lake Realty LLC of Minneapolis.

According to Hennepin County Housing Court records, an eviction hearing was held June 21, 2007. A judgment against Old Paths Church Ministries and a “writ of recovery of premises” was issued the same day. It appears that Smith had flown the coop by then, because court records state that the writ of recovery was returned six days later and had to be re-sent to a forwarding address.

Although Old Paths Church Ministries was never served, court records state the writ of recovery of premises was satisfied on July 5, 2007.

At the same time Old Paths Church Ministries was welshing on its rent due Bass Lake Realty, it was operating as a self-described “sham” ministerial trust and owned a house and property in rural Annandale valued at $361,600. The house was—and still is—occupied by Smith, who was paid a $45,887 housing allowance by You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International in 2009. Smith still lives there, but the property was transferred into his name in 2009 after he and his sidekick Jake MacAulay took legal action to escape from their sham trust.

No 2007 tax records are available for either Old Paths Church Ministries or You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, so it’s not known what either entity’s income was that year.

Also unknown is the amount of rent that deadbeat tenants Old Paths Church Ministries failed to pay. Neither Smith nor Bass Lake Realty LLC returned phone calls regarding this story.

This is the latest in an ongoing Ripple in Stillwater investigative series on Bradley Dean Smith and his Annandale “ministries.” For more, read:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Magnificent Ice Sculptures of Wisconsin's Rush River Valley

By Karl Bremer

Want to see come really cool ice sculptures? Forget about the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Drive east into Pierce County, Wisconsin, and see the magnificent ice sculptures of the Rush River Valley.

Eight miles beyond Ellsworth on U.S. 10, just before crossing the Rush River, turn right on scenic County Road A and after it snakes along the river for 3 or 4 miles, you’ll see them looming out of the valley floor like some frozen Mordor. Dozens of giant ice formations dot the little farm along the river in the Town of Salem.

Some resemble giants, others prehistoric beasts. Let your imagination go wild and they could be most anything. Many would be right at home in an underground cavern amidst the stalactites and stalagmites.

But what are they, and why are they here?

They’re the creation of Roger Nelson of Ellsworth, who owns the former farmstead in the Rush River Valley and now uses it as a “deluxe huntin’ shack.”

Nelson, a plumber by trade, doesn’t really know why he started his frozen sculpture garden 10-12 years ago. But he clearly enjoys doing it, and in fact, three or four years ago, he nearly doubled it in size.

The secret—besides subfreezing temperatures—is the artesian well that is the source for the ice. Artesian wells, common in this coulee country of western Wisconsin, are fed by aquifers whose sources lie in porous rock formations at higher elevations. The pressure in these rock layers allows the wells to flow freely when tapped into—a pumpless well.

“I hooked up the artesian well to underground pipes that run to all the locations where the sculptures are at. I hooked them to PVC pipes that go up in the air and I’ve got holes drilled in those at random, so you never know what they’re going to look like.”

The naturally flowing artesian well feeds the pipes with a steady trickle of water and as the winter goes on, the sculptures begin to develop.

“I start in early December,” Nelson says. “When they start out forming, they’re more fragile than they are now with a lot more icicles. They’re kind of maxed out now and about as big as they’re going to get.”

They’re still changing shape, though, and you can see little sprays of water shooting from some of them.

“Every week they’re different,” says Nelson.

Nelson’s curious roadside attraction has drawn visitors by word of mouth and occasional media coverage. He foots the bill for the entire operation—the electric bill from the 15,000 watts it takes to light it at night is about $300 a month, and he had to replace the well last year. But he cheerfully accepts donations in a box at the unmarked parking area.

Watch your step as you wander around the hulking ice forms. If you go during the day, shoot for early morning or late afternoon when the sun is low. The colder it is, the better they will look, with steam rising off their tops against a brilliant blue sky. The sculptures are lit during nighttime hours.

It’s winter. It’s Minnesota. If you can’t escape it, find a way to enjoy it—even if you have to cross the Cheddar Curtain.

Take I-94 into Wisconsin and exit at Hwy 35 South toward River Falls. Continue on Hwy 65 south of River Falls to Ellsworth. Turn left on U.S. 10 in Ellsworth, pass through town, and follow U.S. 10 for 8 more miles. Turn right at County A and follow the Rush River for about 3 miles. The ice sculptures will be on your left. Don’t forget to throw something in the donation box.

(Hat tip to Paulette Anderson for clueing us in on this hidden wonder.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide responds to the 'radical media' through its tax lawyer

Annandale “ministry” treasurer also files complaint with cops about Ripple in Stillwater—and drags Michele Bachmann’s name into it.

By Karl Bremer

“My life’s an open book,” Bradley Dean Smith, aka "Bradlee Dean," bellowed on his anti-gay, hate-talk radio show January 15. But when it comes to having a peek at the mysterious finances and real estate deals of Smith’s Annandale “ministry,” You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International (YCR), Smith will go to extraordinary means to slam that open book shut.

Since Ripple in Stillwater began its investigation of Smith’s YCR nonprofit, along with its sister nonprofit Old Paths Ministry Inc., Dean has had YCR’s treasurer register a complaint with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office regarding my articles, and had one of his lawyers send a three-page letter to the parent company of Minnesota Independent complaining about coverage of his organizations by “some reporters.” The letter is on the YCR website.

H. Douglas Duncan, a Lodi, CA-based lawyer who prepared YCR’s 2009 federal tax returns, claims in his missive to the American Independent News Network that reporters “have engaged in baseless innuendo and supposition” in writing about YCR. “Further, they have drawn unfounded conclusions which imply that investigations and criminal proceedings were both pending and warranted. Neither is the case.”

In a series of articles, Ripple in Stillwater examined the sham ministry trusts under which Smith had his two organizations organized by Glen Stoll of Edmonds, WA, in 2005, as well as the curious Wright County real estate transfers between Smith, Old Paths Church, Old Paths Church Ministries, and Smith’s connections to the Oregon based anti-tax religious cult, Embassy of Heaven.

Bradley Dean Smith declined to comment for those articles.

Duncan defended the use of trusts as “a valid tool utilized by individuals, for profit and not-for-profit organizations,” he wrote. With regard to the sham trusts set up for Smith by Stoll, he claimed that “although the trust structure was legally valid, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International independently determined that the trusts were not in the best interest of the organization, nor were they in the best interest of the organization’s nonprofit purpose.

“In addition,” Duncan continued, “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International independently determined that the information, initially provided by the promoter of the trusts, was false and that the establishment of the trusts were a result (of) fraud and misrepresentation by the promoters. You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, at its own expense, filed a petition with the Tenth Judicial District Court to expose the fraud perpetrated by Glenn Stole (sic) and others.”

What Duncan fails to address is why it took Smith and YCR Secretary Jacob MacAulay more than three years to take legal action to get out of Stoll’s sham ministry trusts. Stoll had been under a permanent federal injunction prohibiting him from promoting or selling his trusts since June 2005—the same time as when he and Smith were doing business.

Stoll ignored the injunction order. The Justice Department sought to have him jailed for contempt in June 2006. Stoll remains in contempt of the 2005 injunction order with at least $50,000 in fines hanging over his head.

Oddly enough, Duncan comments in a footnote to his letter that “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International should be applauded for exposing this type of fraud and misrepresentation. Many other nonprofit organizations, previously defrauded by this scheme, now have a pattern and a court ruling upon which they can rely to assist them in reclaiming full control of the assets of their organization.” He goes on to liken Smith and MacAulay to unfortunate victims of a Ponzi scheme of which they had no knowledge.

Duncan is also careful to note that “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International is current on all tax reports, returns and liabilities. The tax filings by individual employees of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International are current and there are no tax liabilities associated with those returns.”

In his letter, Duncan also defended the salaries of YCR board members and employees, noting that they are “determined by an independent compensation committee in full compliance with” tax laws.

According to YCR’s 2009 IRS Form 990, prepared by Duncan, YCR President Smith was paid $51,303 in compensation and $45,887 in housing allowance last year for a total of $97,190. YCR's Secretary Jacob MacAulay was paid $42,028 in compensation and $24,869 in housing allowance for a total of $66,897 in 2009. Four other “ordained ministers” with the group received a total of $41,555 in housing allowances.

In an obvious attempt to discourage further reporting on his clients, Duncan concludes: “From this point forward any reports stating information contrary to the facts stated above are baseless, inaccurate and will have been published with the full knowledge that the reports are false.” He then signs off “In support of a free (accurate and unbiased) press.”

Smith took his book-closing one step further when he had YCR’s treasurer, Heather MacAulay of Annandale—Jacob MacAulay’s wife—register a complaint with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office about information she claimed had appeared on Ripple in Stillwater.

The sheriff’s report said MacAulay was “concerned” that information such as “where they live, what they earn, along with other information,” had appeared on Ripple in Stillwater.

Inexplicably, the report further stated that “Heather said the same information is blogged about Michele Bachmann. Heather said she is uncomfortable with this and that it is uncalled for.”

However, as treasurer for YCR, MacAulay should well know that salary information and addresses of a nonprofit’s property and offices are all a matter of public record. They can be found in public property tax records, IRS Form 990s, the Attorney General’s Office and the Secretary of State’s office. In fact, the MacAulay's home address is listed as the registered corporate office for You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, Inc. in its Articles of Incorporation on file with the Secretary of State's office.

For the record, nothing has appeared on Ripple in Stillwater that can’t be found in public records—and most of it is online.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office sounded unimpressed with MacAulay’s complaint.

Bradley Dean Smith was given the opportunity to respond to a whole series of questions about his “ministry” and relationships with anti-tax organizations such as Glen Stoll’s and the Oregon-based Embassy of Heaven. He chose not to.

I'm happy that Smith has finally responded—sort of—through his attorney, to some of my questions. But he really should disabuse himself of the notion that sending his underlings to whine to the cops about public information being disseminated about his controversial little “ministry” is going to stop anyone from looking further into his affairs.

That’s really not “in support of a free press,” as his lawyer
would say. Or much of an “open book,” as Bradley Dean Smith would say.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Paul Wellstone and the 1991 Invasion of Iraq: 20 Years Later

Twenty years ago today, President George H.W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to begin air strikes against Iraq. When the vote authorizing the president to go to war came before Congress just days after being sworn in, newly elected Sen. Paul Wellstone courageously voted against it.

I was the first journalist to interview Wellstone after his historic upset victory over Rudy Boschwitz in 1990, and the following article--much of it focusing on the war--originally ran in the March 1991 issue of the Progressive magazine. It was part of a special anti-war issue the magazine put together, and my byline was featured there alongside the likes of Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg and Philip Berrigan. Of the hundreds of articles I've written over 30-plus years, this remains among my favorites.

An Interview with Paul Wellstone

By Karl Bremer

Minnesota Democrat Paul Wellstone, a political science professor at Carleton College, was elected to the U.S. Senate last November in a stunning upset. He ousted twelve-year veteran Rudy Boschwitz, a conservative Republican, who was the only incumbent Senator to be defeated.

Wellstone’s campaign defied conventional wisdom. The forty-six year old activist began his drive for the Senate two years ago with a résumé that made old-line party leaders cringe: twice arrested for civil disobedience—once to oppose the bombing of Cambodia, once to support family farmers facing foreclosure; co-chair of the Minnesota arm of Jesse Jackson’s 1988 Presidential campaign; organizer of farmers and rural citizens on issues ranging from poverty to power lines; never before elected to public office.

With a populist-style grass-roots campaign, Wellstone handily beat back a host of more conservative challengers for the Democratic nomination. Outspent seven-to-one by Boschwitz in the general election, Wellstone ran a campaign fueled less by money than by the enthusiasm and dedication of a statewide army of volunteers. When the votes were tallied, people won out over money.

A dilapidated old green-and-white school bus was his campaign vehicle, a symbol of his down-to-earth campaign, and he rode it to Washington after the election.

Once there, he wasted no time in making known his views on the Persian Gulf. At a reception for newly elected members of Congress in December, he proffered his advice on the matter to George Bush several times, much to the President’s annoyance. Following his swearing-in by Dan Quayle, Wellstone presented the Vice President with a tape recording of a town meeting on the Persian Gulf, one of a series Wellstone conducted throughout Minnesota after the election. The tape features comments—predominantly critical—from citizens, many of them veterans, concerning the Administration’s lust for war.

When it came time for Paul Wellstone to make his maiden speech, it was January 10, and the debate was on the resolution authorizing war:

"This is not the speech that I wanted to give," he said. "I wanted my first speech to be about children and education, about health care, and about a credible energy policy and the environment.

"I never thought that the first time I would have an opportunity to speak in this chamber the topic would be such a grave topic: life and death . . .

"Town meeting after town meeting after town meeting, citizens would stand up, quite often a Vietnam vet, point a finger at me and say: ‘Senator, how many of the Senator’s children are in the Persian Gulf?’

"And I would respond this way. I would say, ‘I’m a son of a Jewish immigrant from the Soviet Union, and if I believed that Saddam Hussein was a Hitler and that we must go to war to stop him . . . I could accept the loss of life of one of my children, ages twenty-five, twenty-one, and eighteen.

"‘But this is the truth. I could not accept the loss of life of any of our children in the Persian Gulf right now, and that tells me in my gut I do not believe it is time to go to war. And if I apply this standard to my children, then I have to apply this standard to everyone’s children. I have to apply this standard to all of God’s children.’"

Senator Wellstone and I spoke in St. Paul on December 27, 1990, two days before he left for Washington. In late January, after the outbreak of war, he answered a few more questions.

Q: What kind of Senator did Minnesotans want to send to Washington when they elected Paul Wellstone?

Paul Wellstone: I think it’s an unusual mandate. Even people who didn’t vote for me, I see them in cafés and they shout out, "Don’t let ’em get you down in Washington." Or, "Give ’em hell in Washington." And I think what all that means is, number one, people do expect me to rock the boat. I think people expect me to be outspoken. And I think people expect intellectual honesty. I think people expect me to be honest about my positions on issues, willing to bring conviction to politics. I think people also want discipline.

That first dynamic—to be your own person, speak your own mind—comes from people all over the political map. It comes from people who don’t necessarily agree with me on specific issues. I think people would be very disappointed if I went and served an apprenticeship and dutifully built up a résumé there in the Senate, and then became a kind of consummate insider politician. There is a real role for people who are good at that, but I think people would be disappointed in me. That’s not what they’re expecting.

There are high expectations when it comes to a personal code of conduct. I think people don’t want to see me amass a huge war chest. They expect to see me staying away from the corrupt mix of money and politics, and I think people expect to see me lead the way in campaign reform.

Then the final thing I think people expect is that, since this was an unabashedly progressive campaign, I think people will expect me to be a stalwart progressive in the Senate.

Q: You’ve promised not to serve more than two terms, haven’t you?

Wellstone: Yes, but not during the campaign; I want to point that out. And I don’t actually support that as a matter of public policy.

Q: Then you wouldn’t support mandatory limits?

Wellstone: As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think it’s a technical fix. The problem is the way in which money has come to dominate politics and subvert democracy. The problem is that the system is wired for incumbents. The problem is there’s no level playing field. But the answer is to that set of problems is not a fixed term. People should have the right to re-elect someone for a third term if that’s what they believe. And the people also should have the right to throw the rascal out.

Q: What are your ideas for campaign reform?

Wellstone: I want to see the link broken between wealth and political power. I think we should move away from private money. I think there should be a system of public financing. I think that television and the media should be required to devote x amount of time to debates and we should require in turn that candidates take part in those debates.

Q: What’s first on your agenda?

Wellstone: First and foremost, my goal is to be part of a citizenry that opposes war in the Persian Gulf. That’s the first thing. War will define the whole decade of the 1990s in an awful way. Everything for me right now—from these town meetings to the writings I’ve done to conversations in Washington—is the question of life and death, war and peace, that stares me in the face.

Q: Would you oppose a resurrection of the draft?

Wellstone: Yes, right now I sure would. Because it becomes part of making the case for war when I don’t think such a case is credible.

Q: What are your first choices for committee assignments?

Wellstone: The first committee I list as being far and way most important to me is Labor and Human Resources, for a whole range of obvious reasons. The agenda that deals with children and education—this is the committee from which that kind of legislation emanates. The same thing can be said for health care and a national health-care program.

And at these town meetings I’ve talked about the Energy and National Resources Committee. I would really like to serve there because I think that, in light of what’s happened in the Persian Gulf, this country must formulate, develop, and implement a credible national energy policy.

This is an area I’ve done a lot of work in. I see for the future a soft-path energy policy—safe energy, efficient energy, renewables, not coal, not nuclear, not oil. And I also see all sorts of possibilities of linking energy and environment and economic development. [Senator Wellstone has been named to both these committees.]

Q: What do you think of the President’s energy proposal?

Wellstone: It sounds awful. First of all, it sounds like an environmental disaster. To try and push for more off-shore oil drilling is, I think, just outrageous. Second, the effort to rekindle or remake the case for nuclear power is sadly mistaken. It’s hugely expensive, an economic boondoggle, and the health-and-safety issues have not be resolved. I will tell you, the bottom line is that until anybody can show what you do with nuclear waste, you can’t build nuclear plants any more. Period.

That’s my test.

I just don’t happen to think that the alternatives are oil, nuclear, and coal. It’s as if we haven’t learned a thing about fossil fuels. It makes no sense. It’s as if there’s been no discussion of the greenhouse effect, no discussion of air pollution.

A credible energy policy must look hard at how we begin to redesign certain key sectors of the economy. For example, agriculture really can’t continue to be such a petrochemical industry. It’s a dinosaur. There’s a real future for sustainable agriculture. And transportation—agriculture is the second most wasteful energy sector; transportation is the first. I mean, it’s a marriage made in heaven to start thinking about mass transit, a national rail system, from the point-of-view of the environment, of safe energy, of physical infrastructure, jobs, you name it. And I would also argue that in the industrial sector of the economy, there’s so much that we can do by way of redesign. I think the Bush energy program is just more of the same of what we did in the 1980s, which is outrageous, a huge disappointment.

Q: What are your other legislative interests?

Wellstone: I’m interested in small business. A lot of my work has been in farm and rural areas. I lived in Northfeld for twenty years, and I have a very healthy respect for entrepreneurship and small businesses. I think that small businesses are a little bit like family farmers—everybody loves them in the abstract, but public policy in terms of access to capital at reasonable terms is not there.

And I’m interested in Indian affairs, which is not a committee people always want to serve on. It involves a lot of controversies and, if you do the right thing, that’s not usually the political-majority thing to do.

I want to use my position to empower people back home. What that means is I don’t want this to be the end-all—that I was elected. I want this to whet the appetite of people in the state of Minnesota, especially the progressive community, for much more. Not only did we defy the odds. I think we also turned conventional wisdom on its head about who gets to run, who’s mainstream, who can win.

I want to—when I’m back in the state, which will be quite often, or when I travel to other parts of the country—meet with people with whom nobody meets. The people who are the most shut-out of politics. I’m going to do a lot of that. It would be easy to just come back and meet with people who are already in the political orbit, but I really want to expend dramatically the circle of people I meet with. The Indian community would be one example.

Q: Whom do you rely on for advice and information?

Wellstone: I’m going to be far more reliant on a staff that I ever have been in my life. With college teaching, you’re your own boss, you do all your own work. I didn’t have anybody to write speeches for me, until at the very end of the campaign. I’m not used to any of this.

In Minnesota, I brought a community organizing background to the Senate race, and we’re going to do that here in the state.

And I’m not excluding anybody. I spoke to a group of CEOs from large corporations after the election. A very successful meeting, everybody said. I enjoyed it because I didn’t have to do much to be successful—the expectations were low. I went in there to talk about economic performance, and people were relieved that I was interested in that.

But the point is, we’ll be meeting with lots of different people and that will be important. And again, I want to make it clear that the people who have been the most shut-out and have been struggling the most are people I most especially want to spend time with.

I also expect to develop from the beginning a close working relationship with a lot of public-interest groups outside of Congress itself. I’m not going to spend all my time on the Hill. My strength will be to present legislative agenda that is sweeping, that is worth talking about, that people can organize for.

Q: In what ways other than legislation will Senator Paul Wellstone effect change over the next six years?

Wellstone: I’ll be back here at home as a U.S. Senator traveling, speaking, organizing, and helping to provoke the hopes and aspirations of the people here and be part of building strong progressive politics in Minnesota.

And, obviously, over the next two years, there will be a very important and healthy debate about the Democratic Party and national politics, and where the political center of gravity of the Democratic Party should be, and how you win a Presidential race.

Q: When we spoke in December, you said you did not think President Bush had made the case for war in the Persian Gulf. You devoted your maiden speech in the Senate, in early January, to an eloquent argument opposing the resolution authorizing the use of force. Now that we are at war, have you changed your mind?

Wellstone: No, I haven’t changed my mind at all. I’ve had a sense of foreboding ever since November 8, with the massive troop buildup. I’m more worried than ever about the direction we’re heading.

Q: What is your response to those who insist that, since we’re at war, we must rally around the troops, around the President—in other words, just shut up and hope for an early victory?

Wellstone: I said at a town meeting way back in December that I would never make the mistake so many people made in the 1960s of attacking the men and women fighting the war, or attacking their families. At the same time, all the questions I had weeks ago before the outbreak of war, against the policy of war, I continue to have. And I continue to express my misgivings.

Q: Assuming, as I think we must, that the United States and its allies will win this war militarily, what happens in the post-war world?

Wellstone: I’ve tried to think and speak about the postwar world, and I don’t believe I see a New World Order, but rather a new world disorder, a primitive world order linked to violence. An opportunity to build some permanent structure to deal with problems in nonviolent ways is lost; we were unable to do that. I fear what the military solution will mean. I think that relying on the military and not giving economic sanctions and diplomacy a chance has scrambled the Middle East, will unleash forces there that are unknown and unknowable. Tremendous anger will be directed at the United States, Beirut writ large.

Finally, in a domestic part of the picture, we will have an Administration unwilling to fight any other war—the war against AIDS, the war against poverty, against illiteracy, against drugs. And I believe if we don’t fight those wars, we will see only further decline in our country, our economy, our society.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wright County judge gives the green light to malpractice lawsuit against Tom Emmer

August pre-trial date set after judge rules against former GOP gubernatorial candidate’s motions to dismiss lawsuit filed by former political supporter.

By Karl Bremer

Once upon a time, Steven Hackbarth hauled State Representative Tom Emmer’s campaign float in parades with his John Deere tractor. Come August, Hackbarth will be hauling the 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate into court on a legal malpractice lawsuit.

Wright County District Judge Stephen M. Halsey January 5 denied three out of four of Emmer’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit, and set a pre-trial date for August 16.

Steven R. Hackbarth and his roofing contracting company, Hackbarth Enterprises Corporation, both of Silver Lake, a McLeod County town southwest of Emmer's hometown of Delano, filed the lawsuit in September 2010. The lawsuit was first reported on Ripple in Stillwater.

According to Hackbarth’s lawsuit, Emmer represented Hackbarth in a legal proceeding that resulted in a judgment against Hackbarth and cost him his state contractor’s license. Hackbarth says one of his roofing materials suppliers sued him in 2009 over money the supplier claimed Hackbarth owed him.

“People charged my account with the supplier and they weren’t supposed to,” Hackbarth told Ripple in Stillwater last October. “I was disputing that with my supplier, so I asked Emmer to represent me. But he didn’t file the documents he was supposed to file with the court. He showed up the day of the hearing.” Beyond that, Hackbarth said, “he didn’t do nothing.”

The timing of Hackbarth’s filing—less than two months before the 2010 election—led Emmer’s attorney Michael D. Schwartz to accuse Hackbarth of ulterior motives—despite the fact that he was a longtime political supporter of Emmer’s. From his court filings, it’s obvious that Schwartz was trying to ward off further embarrassment to his client before the election.

“It is shamelessly clear that your client has other and improper motives given the timing and substance of his actions,” Schwartz wrote in response to a filing by Hackbarth’s lawyer, Robert C. Hart. “If your client’s claims are anything other than a frivolous and baseless shakedown in light of the upcoming election, I trust your client will submit these claims for a truly neutral evaluation.”

Schwartz continued:

“(Emmer) will not pay your client to avoid sensational headlines, no matter how frivolous they may be.”

Former Emmer spokesman Carl Kuhl charged that Hackbarth was engaging in political “extortion” by trying to get a $200,000 settlement out of the failed GOP candidate for governor so close to the election.

“While Mr. Hackbarth denies political motivation, he made outrageous financial demands prior to filing his suit in the hope of leveraging Tom Emmer's candidacy to advantage himself,” Kuhl told the Associated Press. “Tom Emmer does not negotiate with extortionists.”

Evidently, Judge Halsey does.

Halsey ruled in favor of Hackbarth on three out of four motions for dismissal filed by Emmer. He granted Emmer’s request to dismiss Hackbarth’s individual claim against Emmer, but denied all others, including the claims for Hackbarth’s company, Hackbarth Enterprises Corporation, against Emmer.

“There are genuine issues of material fact as to whether (Emmer) breached any duty to (Hackbarth Enterprises Corporation),” Judge Halsey wrote. He added: “Upon review of the evidence … there are genuine issues of material facts as to whether there was a breach of contract or negligence, whether (Emmer’s) alleged actions caused (Hackbarth Enterprises’) damages, and whether (Hackbarth Enterprises) would have obtained a more favorable result in the underlying action.”

Halsey also rejected Emmer’s request to “reveal confidential information they reasonably believe is necessary to defend the present matter.” That information is related to a house fire at Hackbarth’s residence that Emmer has tried to make an issue in this case.

“The circumstances surrounding the fire have been called into question by the fire inspection report,” Emmer’s lawyer wrote in asking a judge to dismiss the malpractice case. “Additionally, other circumstances regarding the fire at Hackbarth's home will be divulged if this litigation survives ... as the facts of the fire are necessary to establish the absence of fault in (Emmer’s) defense of this baseless action.”

Hackbarth took issue with Emmer’s thuggish tactics in an interview with Ripple in Stillwater last October:

“Emmer is getting all nasty about it, blaming it on me. They hired a private investigator who’s making all kinds of bogus claims. They told us we better drop the suit, and if we didn’t drop the suit, he was going to release information about the house fire.”

Hackbarth says Emmer has represented him in other legal matters satisfactorily, but he regretted that Emmer has refused to take responsibility for his actions in this case.

“If he would have just apologized, it probably never would have come to this,” he told Ripple in Stillwater. “I pulled floats for him in parades for years. I have a John Deere tractor. My daughter has a goat, and we’d put a sandwich board on the goat with Emmer signs. And now all I got was kicked in the head. I thought he was my friend.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kansas abortion doctor killer Scott Roeder was affiliated with the same religious cult as Bradley Dean Smith of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide

Bradley Dean Smith was a member of the Embassy of Heaven until September 2010; Scott Roeder picked up much of his anti-government hatred from the Oregon extremists a decade before he gunned down Dr. George Tiller in 2009.

By Karl Bremer

What does Bradley Dean Smith, president of Annandale-based anti-gay hate ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International (YCR), have in common with Scott Roeder, murderer of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller?

Both were affiliated with the Embassy of Heaven, a virulently anti-government religious cult in Oregon.

The Embassy of Heaven is described in “Investigating Terrorism and Criminal Extremism,” a 2010 report by the Institute for Intergovernmental Research funded by the Department of Justice, as:

“A religious/antigovernment group in Oregon headed by “Paul Revere,” the alias of a former computer analyst named Craig Douglas Fleshman. Fleshman started the Embassy of Heaven Church in 1987; it preaches a total separation from “earthly” government. Embassy members continue to make and sell the bogus license plates and other paraphernalia-18. Committed Embassy of Heaven adherents rarely ever show up for court dates and frequently go on hunger strikes when jailed.”

“Revere” himself has had a number of run-ins with the law over the years. In 1997, he and his family were evicted from their wooded property in Marion County, Oregon, for nonpayment of $16,000 in back taxes and jailed.

Smith, aka “Bradlee Dean” to his followers, was “baptized” into the extremist organization in 2002, according to his identification card verification posted on the group’s website. His ID card was issued on September 30, 2003, and expired September 30, 2010.

The Embassy of Heaven website states:

“On file is a signed statement by Bradley Smith renouncing allegiance to the world and declaring citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“We are fellow citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Government of God, which was handed to the Apostles by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper (Luke 22:29), We fulfill the Great Commission by traveling from place to place using old and modern conveyances. Our government is not of this world, and we expect to be held accountable to the laws from which we come. Our conduct is not an offense if it not an offense in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

When Smith and YCR hired Glen Stoller in 2005 to set up what they later described in court documents as “sham ministries” for YCR and its sister organization Old Paths Church, Stoller promised that part of the package would be identification cards and other materials from the Embassy of Heaven. But clearly, Smith already was involved with the group at least two years prior to that.

Roeder, who was sentenced to life in prison for gunning down Tiller in a Wichita, KS, church during a Sunday service in 2009, also shared allegiance to the Embassy of Heaven with Smith.

A federal investigation was launched after Tiller’s murder to determine whether Roeder acted alone or in concert with any organization.

According to the Wichita Eagle:

Documents from his 1996 divorce case indicate he was affiliated with the Embassy of Heaven Church in Stayton, Ore., during much of the 1990s. The group's leader, who goes by the name Paul Revere, wrote letters to Johnson County court officials in 1999 offering to pay Roeder's back child support.

"We have faithfully informed the District Court Trustee that Scott P. Roeder is on assignment for us in the mission field and that we are handling his affairs," Revere wrote Aug. 10, 1999.

Revere said that Roeder wanted his wife and child to “return to his side,” saying that would be biblical.

Revere told the Kansas City Star on Thursday that the Embassy of Heaven was “a country.”

“We represent the Kingdom of Heaven, God's government on Earth,” he said. The group issues its own driver’s licenses, identity cards and passports for members. Over the years, followers have found themselves in legal trouble for rejecting government authority. Revere said he didn't know Roeder had been charged in Tiller’s death. After checking Roeder’s file, Revere said Roeder during the 1990s had been training with and receiving materials from the Embassy of Heaven but never “made his statement of citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Revere said he never met Roeder and that after he sent the letters to the court on Roeder's behalf, he never heard from him again.

Revere said his group did not condone Tiller's killing. “Killing anybody is a violation of our law,” he said.

Roeder's ex-wife, Lindsey Roeder, said in an interview last week that she told the FBI about the Embassy of Heaven.

“I used to hide their literature from Scott,” she said. “He wanted to send the title of our car to them.”

Like Roeder, Smith is also rabidly anti-abortion, although there is no indication that Smith has ever advocated violence against abortion providers.

Smith has declined to comment on his "citizenship" with the Embassy of Heaven.

Other fringe elements affiliated with the Embassy of Heaven include:

John Joe Gray, who has been at a standoff with law enforcement authorities at his home in rural Texas for over a decade. According to ABC News:

John Joe Gray got into trouble with the law last spring, when a car he was riding in was stopped for speeding. According to the state trooper who pulled him over, Gray was carrying a pistol — illegally .

“He said, ‘You got a permit?’” Gray recalls. “I said, ‘No, sir, it’s my God given right to carry.’”

The two men ended up in a scuffle, with Gray biting the officer. Later indicted, Gray refused to appear in court, saying that he acted in self-defense and that the entire judicial system is corrupt and conspiring against him. In protest, he now refuses to obey the law, including paying taxes, and has lived inside an armed camp for the past six months. His compound — which has no electricity or running water — is about an hour’s drive from Waco, the scene of the deadly Branch Davidian stand-off in 1993.

Inside the compound, the vehicles have license plates “issued” by a church called the Kingdom of Heaven. The American flag hangs upside-down. A sign that reads “Kids Inside” stands above a bunker, and sandbags, presumably to be used for cover in case of an attack, rest on the dirt ground. Two years worth of food is stockpiled. And throughout the compound, all the adults carry weapons.

If authorities try to take the children by force, Gray says he will defend himself — and his right to live as a free man — to the end. “I’m willing to die for it, because how else could you live,” Gray says. “They can take my land, you know, OK. They can take my life. But they can’t take my freedom.”

Richard Allen Shiarla, who, according to the Orlando Sentinal, “found God, rid himself of most of his earthly possessions and established Embassy of Heaven Church” in Longwood, FL. As pastor of his church, the Sentinal reports, Shiarla now goes by his “Christian name” of Richard Allen.

According to the Sentinal:

Allen, 38, is trying to have the house at 112 Pineapple Court in Longwood declared tax-exempt because it is part of Embassy of Heaven Church. The house serves as the pastor's home and the church's spiritual counseling center. Baptisms are performed in the backyard swimming pool. The Internal Revenue Service and the state of Florida recognize Embassy of Heaven as a legitimate church, he said.

The church's claim for tax exemption may seem reasonable. The property was deeded to the church, and most churches pay no property taxes. But Allen's approach has created a stir at the Seminole County Property Appraiser's Office.

Allen and his flock, which numbers between 50 and 100, say the church is a sovereign nation and the church building is a foreign embassy. He said he established the embassy under the rules of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a document signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972.

That document requires all signatories to recognize missions established on their soil, and it makes all such missions parties to the convention.

Some members of the church have given back their drivers licenses, abandoned their Social Security numbers and carry red ''passports'' identifying them as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Some of their cars have tags issued by the church.

Allen acknowledges those actions are similar to high-profile, anti-government groups, but he said he has no quarrel with the government. Allen and his followers simply answer to a higher authority, he said.

Patrick Henry Talbert was a key associate of Gerald Payne, who along with Talbert was convicted in 2001 for running a $500 million Ponzi scheme. Talbert is serving a 19-year prison sentence on multiple counts of conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering for his role in the Payne Ponzi scheme.

Talbert was a self-declared “sovereign citizen” and “Ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven” who proclaimed that ordinary laws and courts had no jurisdiction over him. He advanced that argument in court when charged in 1997 with multiple counts of racketeering, fraud and other crimes related to a separate pyramid scheme. At one point, Embassy of Heaven leader Richard Allen Shiarla intervened on Talbert’s behalf.

The Kingdom of Heaven held its own “ecclesiastical court” and found Talbert guilt of “coveting thy neighbor’s property.” The Kingdom of Heaven offered victims of Talbert—a dozen elderly investors—restitution if they didn’t pursue state charges against Talbert.

Talbert’s novel defense ultimately got him a 10-year prison sentence for his crimes.

Michael Didier is a deadbeat dad in Washington who tried to avoid paying child support for his three children after his wife petitioned for separation and child support in 2004. Michael said the state lacked jurisdiction because he was a “member of the Kingdom of Heaven and served only Jesus Christ.” Michael also claimed he could not pay child support because “as a church “missionary,” he did not have an income and had taken a “vow of poverty” that precluded him from accepting paid employment.”

However, Didier’s wife told the court that he made thousands of dollars advising people on setting up churches and trusts to avoid paying taxes. According to court records, the address Didier gave the court is the same address as Glen Stoll’s Remedies at Law, which organized Bradley Dean Smith’s sham ministerial trusts.

The court didn’t buy it, calling Didier’s reasoning “circular.” Michael Didier was ruled in contempt of court and ordered to pay $4,900 in child support.

Although the Embassy of Heaven advocates checking out of government altogether, and many of its adherents have been convicted of tax evasion and other crimes, there is no evidence at this time of any illegal tax activity on the part of Bradley Dean Smith, YCR or Old Paths Church.

Based on an examination of Wright County tax records for property owned by Smith, Old Paths Church and the Family Defense League - the sham trust they established with Glen Stoll - it appears that taxes on those properties have always been paid on time and in full. Vehicles seen at YCR’s Annandale headquarters also appear to be properly licensed, rather than bearing license plates from the Kingdom of Heaven.

Bradley Dean Smith severed his ties with Glen Stoll and his illegal tax scams in 2009. It’s not known whether Smith did the same with the Embassy of Heaven when his "citizenship" in the Kingdom of Heaven expired last September.

Top right photo: Bradley Dean Smith, from Embassy of Heaven website.
Top left photo: Scott Roeder, murderer of Wichita, KS, doctor George Tiller.
Center image: Embassy of Heaven ID card verification for Bradley Smith.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Punk anti-gay 'minister' tells Governor Dayton churches should provide health care for the poor

But Bradley Dean Smith's sidekick at You Can Run But You Cannot Hide is silent on what his own 'ministry' does for the poor--or anyone else. Can we expect to see an Annandale Free Clinic soon?

By Karl Bremer

In his first major act as Minnesota governor, Mark Dayton reversed his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty, by expanding the federal Medicaid program in the state to up to 95,000 more people currently not eligible for Medicaid or not covered by any insurance at all. But after doing so, he took the unprecedented step of turning over his podium—and microphone—to a few of the noisy teabagger protesters present who were clamoring for an end to “Obamacare.”

Among them was none other than Jacob McMillian MacAulay, aka “Jake McMillian,” COO and allegedly an ordained minister at the Annandale-based anti-gay hate ministry Old Paths Church/You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International (YCR).

(Go to 16:15 of the video above)

What was astonishing was that although MacAulay never identified himself as a 'minister' or affiliated with any church, he blasted churches for not stepping up to the plate and providing health care for those who cannot afford it, rather than letting government provide it through some "unconstitutional" means such as “Obamacare” or Medicare or Medicaid:

Addressing the issue of Minnesotans without health care, MacAulay asks: “Where is the church to help these people? Because that is the church’s job and duty—it’s social causes. Find in the Constitution where it’s the government’s job to do that. It’s for nonprofit organizations. It’s for the church to do what it rightfully should do.

“I don’t blame somebody for feeling that when the church doesn’t do its job, we’ve got to do something,” he continued. “I agree we need to do something, there’s no doubt about it. But when we step outside of our bounds where our Constitutional authority lies, and we start to take that authority on ourselves, because we can create an executive order, it has a ripple effect of destroying societies.

“What we need is not a strong centralized government. What we need is strong self-government of the people who will look out for each other, just like this poor woman who died,” MacAulay concluded, referring to an earlier speaker’s story of inadequate health care. “The church should have been looking after her.”

MacAulay raises some interesting points—especially considering he’s supposedly a paid ordained minister in a church himself. So as long as he’s asking, where is MacAulay’s “church” in all this?

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few weeks looking into MacAulay’s mysterious “church” and have found virtually nothing about what it does or who it serves—other than the tens of thousands of dollars in grants it has received from its sister “ministry” YCR, and the $360,000 Annandale property it once owned that’s the home of Bradley Dean Smith, aka Bradlee Dean.

MacAulay is listed as the “agent” and “incorporator” of Old Paths Church, Inc. and YCR in filings with the State of Minnesota. The mission of Old Paths Church, its Articles of Incorporation state, “is to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to develop Christian leadership, to perform charitable work and to otherwise function as a church.” Nothing about providing medical help for the poor, as he so eloquently demanded of his fellow church brethren.

There are no expenses reported for indigent medical services—or any other kind of medical services—in the tax filings, state filings or an independent audit of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International. Nor are there any other expenses listed that could conceivably be related to medical services. No tax records are available for Old Paths Church, which shares the same Annandale address as YCR.

An exhaustive internet search turns up no evidence of any “charitable work”—medical or otherwise—on the part of MacAulay’s Old Paths Church either. In fact, it's almost as if the church doesn't exist at all, other than on paper.

No one at YCR/Old Paths Church responded to inquiries about either organization.

The next time “Pastor” MacAulay decides to take the podium and preach about what churches should be doing for the poor, perhaps he should stick around to enlighten his congregation as to what his own Old Paths Church is doing in that capacity. Or what it’s doing in any capacity, other than trying to shelter its income from the government.

That’s something he may have to answer sooner rather than later anyway.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Did creationist theme park operator's conviction for tax evasion lead to Bradley Dean Smith's divorce from 'sham ministry' architect?

Notorious Washington tax cheat Glen Stoll worked with You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International to set up 'ministerial trusts.'

By Karl Bremer

Did Annandale-based anti-gay hatemonger Bradley Dean Smith cut loose his You Can Run But You Cannot Hide (YCR) “ministry” from tax violator Glen Stoll in 2008 because the federal government sent one of Stoll’s other whacky ministerial trust customers to prison on federal tax violations the year before?

Kent Hovind, along with his wife, Jo Hovind, ran Creation Science Evangelism in Pensacola, FL. Among the group’s endeavors was Dinosaur Adventure Land, a sort of cheesy theme park for creationists. Working with Stoll’s Edmonds, Wa-based Remedies at Law beginning in 2002, the Hovinds concocted the Creation Science Evangelism Ministry under the auspices of a corporation sole, “Director of Ecclesiastical Enterprises,” as trustee in 2003. Stoll issued the ministry a business license from the “Kingdom of Heaven” — the same “Kingdom of Heaven” in which Bradley Smith claimed citizenship.

The Hovinds’ enterprise as described in a 2009 property forfeiture proceeding filed in U.S. District Court in Pensacola sounds virtually identical to Bradley Smith’s “ministerial trusts” for YCR. Except that Kent and Jo Hovind got caught using their ministry to evade taxes, and Kent is still serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison. Kent Hovind, known as “Dr. Dino,” was convicted by a jury in 2006 on 58 charges including failing to pay payroll taxes for his employees, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, and “corruptly endeavor[ing] to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws.” Jo Hovind was convicted on 44 counts.

Among the properties ordered forfeited to pay off the Hovinds’ more than $600,000 judgment was Dinosaur Adventure Land. Stoll tried to get his hands on some of the Hovinds’ property before it was forfeited, claiming to be a trustee, but was rebuffed by a federal judge.

Kent Hovind is currently jailed at Jesup Federal Correction Institution in south Georgia. He recently appealed to have his sentence vacated. Jo Hovind was sentenced to a year in prison and was released in 2009.

At about the same time the Hovinds’ tax-evasion convictions and property forfeitures were making news in 2008, Bradley Smith, known to his follows as "Bradlee Dean," and his “co-minister” Jacob MacAulay began to take legal action to sever their ties with Stoll. Coincidence?

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide was originally established in 1999. It filed federal IRS Form 990s in 2001 and 2002. Smith established his YCR and Old Paths Church trusts with Stoll in 2005, but no federal Form 990s can be found for YCR at either the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office or until 2008, when it was reincorporated as You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, Inc.

“2008 is this ministry’s first year of existence,” YCR’s 2008 Form 990 states. Technically, that may be correct, as “International” wasn’t added to the group’s name until 2008. But Bradley Smith had been operating an organization under the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide banner for nearly a decade prior to that.

What happened to YCR’s taxes between 2003 and 2008? Were they ever filed? Did YCR employees pay taxes? Did the IRS even know of YCR’s existence?

Smith and YCR declined to comment on their relationship with Stoll or the IRS.

According to the permanent federal injunction ordered against Stoll in 2005, Stoll falsely told his customers that “church ministries are not required to notify the IRS of even their existence, much less their exemption from taxation and return filing requirements.”

The federal injunction states that Stoll also falsely advised his customers to take such illegal tax-avoidance steps as classifying employees as independent contractors, not report compensation to the IRS and to make payments to their ministerial trusts rather than individuals so income can be more easily hidden from the IRS.

And, court documents state, Stoll advised and assisted his customers in transferring their pre-tax income to offshore bank accounts in the Caribbean and advised customers on how to circumvent U.S. banking laws.

Next in this investigation of Bradley Dean Smith's tax-exempt Annandale, MN-based "ministry," You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, we’ll take a closer look at the extremist anti-tax religious cult Embassy of Heaven, for whom Smith renounced his allegiance to the world and pledged his citizenship.

Photos of 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer with the YCR gang (top), and Tim Pawlenty with YCR Co-Minister Jacob MacAulay, from