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What the Hell, Mike Gravel?

mike-gravel
February 27, 2012
Category: COMMENTARY

Former Senator Mike Gravel (who read the Pentagon Papers leaks into the public record) had been actively involved in the 9/11 truth and justice movement for the last year.

That is over now.

Mike Gravel has taken money donated to the 9/11 Citizens Commission (9/11CC) and re-distributed those funds elsewhere without permission from either the 9/11CC board or its donors.

The organization he redistributed the donations to is an organization that he founded and chairs – and it has nothing to do with 9/11.

The timeline of discussions can be found and read in whole starting with:

1. On Dec. 26th, the 9/11CC board wrote a letter to its endorsers, advisors and major donors. That letter was abbreviated and sent out to all donors on Jan 21st.

2. Mike Gravel wrote a response to the 9/11CC board on February 3rd

The above details are discussed further below.

(1):

On January 21st, the 9/11CC board sent an email out to all donors to the organization. That email was posted to a related thread at TruthAction within a week, and after being posted on a FaceBook page. Among many details in the letter from the board, the following is highlighted here:

….. we have a responsibility to relate to you some very serious and unfortunate news: There has come a parting of the ways of Senator Mike Gravel from the rest of the 9-11cc team. Briefly, the pivotal event of that parting came to our attention in mid-December when we found that our bank account, under the sole control of Mike Gravel, was being tapped for large, unauthorized expenditures paid to promote an unrelated campaign of Mike’s – his National Initiative for Democracy (NI4D). When this disturbing item was put on our Campaign Team’s agenda for the next team meeting, Mike Gravel, for the first time, declined to participate, and instead sent a long letter in which he expressed his intention to dissolve the legal entity that our 9-11cc organization had established to enable us to collect funds. Mike Gravel further informed us of his plan to transfer the 9-11cc’s funds to his own, unrelated NI4D campaign. Both of Mike’s proposals were rejected by all other members of the board. Although as a Board we had been in discussion for several months about refinements to our path going forward, these radical, unilateral decisions by Mike Gravel came as a complete shock to us. Shortly thereafter, our treasurer, George Ripley, made an unsuccessful attempt to have our accountant freeze our bank account to prevent further unauthorized and unaccounted-for expenditures. As our Board prepared to meet two nights later to consider our response (a meeting Mike Gravel again chose not to attend), we found that $25,000 more had been withdrawn that same day from our bank account, leaving only about a $6,000 balance (now ~$1000).

We tried in vain up to and throughout the Christmas holidays to use reason and peer pressure to get Mike Gravel back into productive communication with the rest of the Board, and to persuade him to return the donated funds to the Citizen’s Commission Campaign….

The 9/11CC Board obviously made a mistake by allowing the money to be in the sole control of Mike Gravel. That mistake does not excuse Mike Gravel’s actions.

(2):

Two weeks later on February 3rd Mike Gravel responded to the 9/11CC board email. Gravel’s response was posted to the Truth Action forum again. The important points from Gravel’s response are covered below:

In May 2011, Ken Jenkins and George Ripley were pushing me into a leadership role within the 911 movement that I was reluctant to take on…

…The forms creating the California Recipient Committee called the “Citizens 911 Commission” were filed on May 13, 2011 and received by the Secretary of State on May 16th. My name as the “sole principal” is the only name associated with the entity in California. I secured an EIN number from the IRS on that basis and opened an account at Wells Fargo. No other names or persons are legally associated with this California entity or its bank account. As the authorized signer who opened the account at Wells Fargo, I made provisions with the bank for Jenkins, Belitsos and Ripley to access the account only to view its activity in real-time…

As a California Recipient Committee, we had no operable bylaws and none were required to be filed by the state. I subsequently drafted Articles and Bylaws in anticipation of creating an IRS C4 corporation, which was the planned next step in our logical growth, going from a working group of volunteers into a legal corporate entity.

Initially, our intent was to file an initiative in California. I visited and worked with the attorneys at the State’s Legislative Council in Sacramento, drafting my concept into a legally acceptable initiative proposal. However, it became obvious that a California initiative campaign was out of the question at this time; it would take several million dollars to qualify an initiative for the ballot and more to wage a viable enactment campaign.

Since we planned no political activity in California and were limited in accepting foreign contributions, it was understood by all those involved (Jenkins, Freeland and Ripley) that we would dissolve the Recipient Committee before the end of the year or face extensive and expensive reporting requirements that were irrelevant to our national and global activity. In the event of dissolution, California law is very clear; whatever monies are in the Committee’s bank account must be donated to a government recognized charity or returned to the donors on a pro rata basis….

A pro rata return to donors would have been expensive accounting-wise and of de minim{i}s impact to all but one donor. I chose to donate all the funds in the account to the Democracy Foundation, a 501 c 3 charity recognized under federal law. The Democracy Foundation, which I founded and chaired, is the educational sponsor of the National Citizens Initiative, an initiative that when enacted into law will empower citizens to make laws in every government jurisdiction. The process to enact the National Citizens Initiative can be undertaking in any country where citizens are allowed to vote. Obviously, if we able to enact the National Citizens Initiative, it would provide an excellent opportunity to enact a federal law creating a new Citizens 911 Commission with federal powers far superior to anything we would expect to secure with a state initiative.

…All told we raised around $85,000 in 2011; and more than half has been spent on travel and overhead…

Mike Gravel simply chose to redistribute the funds to an organization he founded and chairs without permission from the donors.

Maybe Gravel thought people were donating to him and not to the organization of an idea for a citizens 9/11 investigation? That would have been the wrong assumption: Gravel was given donations by 9/11 activists, plain and simple.

The irony of giving stolen money to a “Democracy Foundation” that the thief founded and chairs is not lost here. Is this Gravel’s idea of Citizen Power?

Gravel states further that the process of redistribution to donors would have been “expensive accounting-wise” and “de minimis,” or too insignificant to be worthy of concern “to all but one donor.”

Is Mike Gravel trying to downplay the impact of his actions by stating only one person will be greatly affected? Hogwash!

Before publishing this letter, I contacted a 9/11CC board member to see if I could learn more. A message came back with the following information:

The biggest donor put in nearly $48K. The next biggest donor was $10K. Next was $2.5K. There were several more donors at $1K and up. There were some others at $500 and up. I do not consider any of those amounts “small”.

The economy is in the pits and more than a quarter of the US is out of work. 9/11 activists are up against enough walls without Mike Gravel thinking it’s too insignificant to be worthy of concern that he redistributed their donations, without consent.

Even that discussion becomes a distraction for the sad fact that Mike Gravel could have chosen a much more graceful and respectful way to distance himself from something he was “reluctant to take on” as he says, if that was ever really the case: During personal interactions he always seemed not so reluctant about the 9/11CC.

More to the point and simply put: Mike Gravel is a thief and a liar.

The 9/11CC board confronted Mike Gravel only after noticing that money had been withdrawn in November without permission. After asking Gravel about the missing money, did he take another $25,000 without permission in December and cease contact with the 9/11CC board.

Mike Gravel has not returned the money to the 9/11 CC board or its donors.

I hate to say it, but the one thing that comes to mind is an old Steve Miller song.

Mike Gravel should return the money, plain and simple.

  1. loose nuke says:

    9-11cc.org is active again. I took a look around and archived a bunch of pages with webcitation.org. The last blog post was 10/27/11. I didn’t see any info on Gravel’s leaving/taking the money, but the money counter’s gone from the front page and Gravel’s name has been removed from the Board of Directors page and some other places.

    The objections I listed in my November critique https://911reports.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/flaws-in-the-citizens-911-commission-campaign-by-erik-larson/ were: 1) The proposed state-level commission will have no teeth due the Federal government’s sovereign immunity. 2) The Campaign and proposed Commission aren’t structured to be democratic or publicly accountable, and has demonstrated incompetence in preparing for the campaign/commission. 3) The Campaign has made misleading representations about what’s possible with the proposed Commission.

    The way Mike Gravel left, including his taking of the money, reveals him to be untrustworthy. The fact that he was put in a position with so much control and so little accountability/oversight involving other Board members is another indication that they don’t have the experience/wits to manage a project like this.

    The fact that they’ve relaunched the site and are asking for money, but have made no public statement regarding Gravel leaving/taking the money is another indication of incompetence in handling the campaign because it’s not transparent/forthright, and this lack of transparency/forthrightness is a concern in itself.

    There’s been no ‘official’ acknowledgment of my critique and the issues raised, but they’ve revised their FAQ so that it addresses the sovereign immunity issue:

    Quote:
    Q. Will the Commission have the power to subpoena suppressed evidence, like the videos of the Pentagon that have been classified and withheld by the FBI? Can we subpoena members of the CIA? Of the NSA? Of the Bush presidential archives? Can we call Bush to testify, or is he immune?

    A. Yes, all of the above can be exercised by the Commission, however, those still active in government may trump these subpoenas with claims of sovereign immunity for themselves or their agency or assertions that the evidence in question is still “classified.”
    http://9-11cc.org/faq-how-will-the-new-commission-operate/

    The federal govt has sovereign immunity from state interference, period, whether or not the persons of interest are still employed. The feds don’t have to turn over their records, classified or not, though they can cooperate if they wish to – and as almost everyone who gets elected or appointed is a corrupt or compromised Dem or Rep, fat chance that’s going to happen. Gravel’s gone, but the Campaign is still misleading the public. However, this sovereign immunity issue was my number one objection; even if the Campaign was transparent, accountable and democratic, and run by honest and competent people, it would still be a waste of money, time and energy. A state ballot initiative might be able to accomplish something useful, but not a full investigation of 9/11 run by a state or states.

  2. RichAucoin says:

    I was there. The split between 9-11cc and Sen Gravel was simply the result of an impasse over how to proceed organizationally after the MA initiative’s financing fell short. The meetings were becoming extraordinarily arduous and the wonderful collective focus we had all shared during the MA campaign was lost. I resigned just before Mike did.

    The reason I donated $1000 to 9-11cc plus gave a month of my life to chair the MA initiative was primarily because a heroic antiwar US senator was heavily involved in the project and had written 9/11 legislation that would pass legal muster here. The other members were/are all great people and activists, but frankly Sen Gravel was the draw. So his decision to move the funds to NI4D for his next 9/11 initiative attempt isn’t a problem for me.

    I wish all involved the best moving forward.

    Rich Aucoin
    Co-director & chairman, Massachusetts Committee for a Citizens 9/11 Investigation Commission

  3. O_Glen says:

    Makes perfectly good sense to me. He is, after all, a Politician!! The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club has one VERY STRICT RULE. No one who has ever, in their entire life, been associated with law enforcement can ever become a member. This is for a good reason. Trust.

    I make no connection to 9/11 Truth (movements, et. al.) by mentioning an outlaw motorcycle gang!! But, suffice to say, Senator Gravel was a Senator, which means he likely began as a lawyer, and when Lawyers sink down deep enough they become politicians, rising to the top of that form of dung heap.

    I truely feel sorry for the financial loss to 9/11 Truth News. Everyone of those dollars stolen was worked hard for and this is not trivial. Good Luck! Continue the fight. What choice do we have but to live and learn?

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