This following report by Mike Gravel not only helps us understand the situation and the difficulties with the Citizens 9/11 Commission Campaign, but it also offers an important overview on the 9/11 truth movement, and how Gravel’s ideas for direct democracy remain critical for any chance for a real investigation and to encourage the Occupied Wall Street movement to join an actionable plan for freedom and democracy throughout our world. . . for peace, justice, and harmony.
———— Forwarded message ————
From: Mike Gravel
Date: Feb 8, 2012
This report is first and foremost to thank you for your donation and support. It also affords me the opportunity to respond to the email sent to you by Ken Jenkins, George Ripley and Ken Freeland, wherein they make scurrilous and defaming charges against me that they are now spreading through the Internet, Facebook and Twitter.
Before addressing in detail my public statements and my actions with respect to the final disposition of the monies donated through the 9-11CC website to ultimately secure a new Citizens 911 Commission, let me clearly outline the legal status of our volunteer group that included the above mentioned individuals during the entire course of 2011.
In May 2011, Ken Jenkins and George Ripley (Freeland only came aboard in August as a paid employee) were pushing me into a leadership role within the 911 movement that I was reluctant to take on. They went so far as to fill out the government forms that appointed me the Sole Principal and Treasurer of a California Recipient Committee. Either they were not willing to do the tedious work involved or they did not feel prepared or experienced enough to take the idea I had suggested for a new Citizens 911 Commission from the concept stage to that of a legal initiative text that would be acceptable by the appropriate state government entities.
California Recipient Committee
The forms creating the California Recipient Committee called the “Citizens 911 Commission”were filed on May 13, 2011 with the Secretary of State. My name as the ‘Sole Principal and Treasurer‘ is the only name officially 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 were 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. Belitsos hired an accountant who I authorized to sign on the account so that she could pay our bills and invoices. She submitted each payment to me for authorization prior to payment. This process of how the donations were handled was never challenged. All of our financial activities were reported on our website. Our accountant resigned in December on my advice and that of her attorney after being repeated threatened with legal action by Jenkins and Ripley for not freezing the account, which she legally could not do.
Under California law a Recipient Committee can raise up to $25,000 (only from U.S. sources) without being required to report the identity of its donors or being required to organize itself into a political organization or corporation. The temporary Recipient Committee model seemed ideal for our purposes, since we had no way of knowing if the 911 Truth Movement would fully support or sufficiently fund the concept of using the direct democracy initiative process to bring about a new 911 investigation.
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 would have been the next step in our logical growth, going from a working group of volunteers to a legal corporate entity. However, in November, I felt it unwise to incorporate our group and continue our fundraising practice, in view of the fact that we were not able to demonstrate the ability to raise sufficient funds to actually fund a single state initiative. Otherwise we would be raising and using the funds of dedicated donors—essentially milking the fundraising process–to perpetuate payments of self serving fees to our office manager and others and paying the costs of unproductive meetings that were essentially therapy sessions for its participants.
It is very important to understand the legal limited nature of our Committee during the entire course of 2011. We were actually no more than a group of individuals working together on a voluntary basis to realize our goals expressed on our website and in my speeches and media interviews. We pledged to bring about a new Citizens 911 Commission by the legislative actions of citizens voting on state initiatives or on a national initiative if a law making that possible came into being. I spoke of both direct democracy approaches repeatedly, publicly and privately. Both approaches were the basis of the Actionable Plan I wrote for the Citizens 911 Commission.
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, Belitsos 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 activities. California law is very clear; at the time of dissolution 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. The purpose of the law is to make sure that monies collected publicly and not reported to a government entity, do not covertly end up in organizations supporting or opposing political candidates or initiatives filed in California.
A pro rata return to donors would have been expensive accounting-wise and of deminimous 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 Initiative (www.NI4D.US), now being reconstituted into the National Citizens Initiative. The NCI, when enacted into law, will empower citizens to make laws in every government jurisdiction of the United States. Obviously, if we were able to enact the National Citizens Initiative, it would provide an excellent process for proposing 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. Donor funds now being used to advance the enactment NCI are entirely within the scope of the pledges I publicly made to donors.
Oregon and Massachusetts
After foregoing a campaign in California, we looked to more affordable initiative states with politically progressive constituencies. Oregon, Colorado, Ohio, Massachusetts, Alaska, Maine, North and South Dakota were considered. After visiting officials in Ohio, it proved not to be a viable choice. I traveled to Salem, Oregon and worked with their Legislative Council attorneys to improve the text we had developed in California. In Portland I met with a group of 911 Truthers. They were attentive and interested but it was apparent that the group lacked any leaders or any burning desire to undertake a campaign.
I traveled to Alaska and met with a large group of Truthers and discussed the concept with government officials. The group had interest but no viable leadership prepared to secure funding for an initiative. I met with three persons in Colorado, however, nothing matured beyond that contact. In Maine and the Dakotas we could not identify a viable group of Truthers to even approach. The concept of using the initiative to create a new Citizens 911 Commission is a concept somewhat ‘out of the box‘ and many people, even in initiative states, are not all that familiar with the initiative law-making process. This direct democracy legislative innovation was also difficult to get across to the various leaders in the 911 Truth Movement.
Massachusetts was a different story. A group stepped forward led by Richard Aucoin and Richard McCampbell, both experienced initiative campaigners. They filed the initiative text with the Commonwealth‘s Attorney General. She certified the initiative for the ballot on September 7th.. We had until late November to raise the $300,000 to pay for a professional signature gathering contractor. The task was impossible. The campaign had to be halted even in the face of great enthusiasm. The state‘s 911 activists had no choice but to refocus their efforts on the 2014 election cycle.
The following overview of the Committee‘s financial situation is important to understand to appreciate the nature of the dispute. My personal 911 fundraising experience commenced September 2010 when I started traveling and working fulltime on the 911 direct democracy concept. 911 groups at which I spoke would canvas the audiences for donations to pay for my travel expenses. Even at that I had to fund some of my expenses personally.
Once our website was up with my speeches and media interviews explaining the details of my initiative concept, donations began to flow starting in July 2011 and remained encouraging into mid September 2011. The highpoint of our fundraising effort was my trip to Toronto in September 2011.
Donations slowed to a trickle by the end of September and surged again as a result of Manfred Petrick’s blog in Zurich Switzerland, which was influential with the 911 Movement in Europe. Since half of our donations came from foreign sources, it made sense to plan a European tour to meet with and seek more financial support from 911 leaders.
We had the good fortune to have the support of Annie Machon, a globally known outspoken voice for peace and justice issues and a 911 activist personally acquainted with 911 leaders throughout Europe. She organized speaking and media appearances for me in the eight cities we visited. The trip was not a financial success. Nevertheless, I view the trip as worthwhile for the contacts we established through Annie and the fact that it informed me of the 911 situation in Europe. The 911 Truth Movement is as marginalized in Europe by the media and governments as it is in the U.S. The Truthers are there in significant numbers but somewhat discouraged or burnt out.
Surprisingly, there was greater interest on the tour in the National Citizens Initiative process of direct democracy to bring about a new Citizens 911 Commission than the use of state initiatives. I addressed both subjects in all my presentations. 911 leaders arranged for my appearances at Occupy Wall Street encampments in Zurich, Paris and Amsterdam. This experience reinforced my view that this global revolution of the grassroots could well make the National Citizens Initiative an idea whose time has come.
A Realistic Assessment that Led to the Dispute
Putting aside the “he said, she said” arguments that prevail in all disputes or rosy interpretations of non-existent successes, it is important to realistically understand the different opinions that caused the split within the Recipient Committee.
There are two questions of paramount importance that must be addressed in assessing our progress.
1) Are there 911 volunteers in initiative states prepared to file a Citizens 911 Commission initiative and take on the liability of filing government reports? Are there 911 activists in sufficient numbers to wage a viable campaign to bring about the initiative‘s enactment after sufficient petition signatures have been gathered to qualify the
initiative for the ballot?
2) Is there a likelihood of raising sufficient funds to contract with a professional signature gathering company to qualify the initiative? Experience has shown that signature gathering cannot be done by volunteers alone. The minimum cost for such a contract is $300,000 in a politically viable state. This does not address the costs of an enactment campaign within the state once the initiative is qualified. Nor does it consider the overhead costs of a national organization –9-11CC– to oversee and sponsor various state efforts. All told we raised around $85,000 in 2011; and more than half of that has been spent on travel, communications and overhead of the Committee.
By November, it was obvious the Recipient Committee‘s efforts did not come close to satisfactorily answering either question with respect to state activists or sufficient funding. An honest appraisal of what took place in 2011 does not come near the fanciful upbeat report sent to you by the ‘board‘ (Jenkins, Freeland and Ripley). We failed to raise sufficient funds to launch an adequate campaign in any politically acceptable state. Except for Massachusetts we were unable to identify a viable group of 911 activists prepared to undertake an in-state initiative campaign. Additionally and of extreme importance, major leaders and important 911 organizations chose not to endorse the Citizens 911 Commission campaign or help by sharing their membership lists.
Our initial fund raising plans posited securing major angel contributors to kick off our multi-state initiative effort. I relied on the views of Ken Jenkins and Byron Belitsos, both longtime 911 activists, who expected to raise substantial sums from angel donors who they knew personally and who had contributed substantial sums to 911 causes in the past. Their overtures to these contacts were turned down, either due to burnout or a lack of conviction that the Actionable plan would work.
George Ripley indicated in May 2011 that he could and would raise substantial sums. This was not realized. He did travel with me in Massachusetts and was personally very helpful. These early-on cues should have alerted us to the burnout within the 911 community or the lack of confidence in direct democracy. The movement is far from dead but its capacity to embrace and fund innovative strategies is limited and prone to fractious behavior.
This realistic assessment in no way negates the importance of the donations we did receive and used to communicate with the 911 Truth Movement. I would not have been able to travel throughout the U.S. and abroad had it not been for your donations. I did not have the personal financial capacity to do it without your help. I am extremely grateful for your donations and your personal support. I do not feel that we failed you. We raise the visibility of the 911 issue worldwide and as leaders we now have a more realistic assessment of our capabilities and a clearer vision of what we need to do to bring about a new Citizens 911 Commission, which we are pursuing with a new NCI campaign this spring. Your donations made this possible. Thank you.
The Dispute and the Parting of the Ways
Upon my return from Europe on November 11th I reported to the committee that for health reasons and a desire to use my energies more effectively, I had decided to focus on refurbishing the National Initiative into the National Citizens Initiative and thereby capitalize upon the opportunity the Occupy Wall Street revolution offers us. Nevertheless, I was prepared to continue working with the group and to consider funding any reasonable project that kept faith with our pledges to donors. However, suggestions by Ken Jenkins, George Ripley, Ken Freeland (the only paid employee of the group) and Byron Belitsos, who has since resigned from the group, did not seem to go anywhere. One idea was to fund national and local conferences to bring 911 leaders together in hopes of charting a new direction for our Committee; I felt such a conference would amount to violation of our pledges to donors. Only these four and a few others they could influence with bias information took issue with my position. Many more volunteers supported my position, particularly so when all the facts were made known.
My approach to our organizational problem was straightforward and simple (I thought). If we were unable to raise sufficient financial support or muster activists to do state initiatives then maybe we should focus our energies on the other approach that direct democracy offers us, about which I addressed in all of my speeches, interviews and on our website — a national initiative process. Now with the OWS on the global scene, a National Citizens Initiative seemed viable. What followed was a month of interminable discussions leading nowhere except my exhaustion. Despite my age (almost 82) and various health issues, I have worked full-time on this 911 effort since September 2010 without remuneration. I have spent about three of the last fourteen months away from my wife Whitney (almost a month on the initial California trip, two trips to Sacramento, Portland, Anchorage, Cincinnati and Denver, more than two weeks in Massachusetts and more than two weeks in Europe). During the last two trips, I became ill and had to see local doctors.
My supposed friends on the Committee wanted me to continue to be their spokesperson making speeches and traveling the world explaining the direct democracy concept. They wanted to use my reputation to raise money; then they wanted to control those monies by a process which sounds ‘democratic‘ but, in effect, holds my reputation and responsibilities to donors and supporters hostage to their decisions and judgments and most dangerously: even when they are wrong.
From mid November to December 18, we met in conference once or twice a week, going on for many hours, discussing and arguing over our different interpretation of the facts. I spent more than 10 hours in discussion with Jenkins alone. During these debates, I was subjected to insults—being charged with a lack of integrity is the most modest of the charges. The effect of this was pushing me further and further away from any possible accommodation of ever working together.
By December 18, I concluded that the only intelligent solution was to go our separate ways. They could form their own organization, do their own fundraising and pursue their vision. I was free to do the same.
However, they wanted to take control of the remaining funds of the Recipient Committee (around $30,000). This was not possible under California law nor was it possible morally because of the pledges I had made to donors. It was my statements that had raised these funds and it was my responsible to see to their proper use.
An Objective Judgment of the Dispute
The best way for an objective observer to judge the right or wrong of a dispute like this is to judge the conduct of the disputants. If the ‘board‘ (Jenkins, Freeland and Ripley) are truly committed to the cause of using direct democracy to bring about a new Citizens 911 Commission, then one would have expected them to do their best to limit knowledge of the split and minimize the disruptive effects of the conflict on the 911 Truth Movement by letting everyone to quietly go their separate ways.
Their conduct has been just the opposite. They are publicizing the dispute far and wide and spreading falsehoods with no purpose other than to damage my reputation, all because I chose to deny them the opportunity to hold my reputation hostage.
For my case, I have chosen not to address or discuss the dispute with anyone except in response to statements and charges that are addressed directly to me or brought to my attention by persons who want to know my side of the story.
The sentences in the email they sent you—informing the proper legal authorities regarding this unauthorized removal of funds from our Campaign. An official investigation should soon be underway–is the same threat they made to me back in December. Now, they are making it more subtlety, inferring some illegality on my part and spreading this to the Internet through uninformed, irresponsible blogs. This charge is ludicrous and borders on libel. Their ugly campaign to damage my character has the real effect of damaging the entire 911 Truth Movement and themselves personally.
It is emotionally disturbing to experience their viciousness toward me since I once considered them friends. I think Rudyard Kipling describes the situation best in his poem “If“: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you;….you’ll be a man my son!”
National Citizens Initiative
In my judgment, the initiative process of direct democracy is the only way we will ever be able to enact a new Citizens 911 Commission, at
this point in our history. It goes without saying that if we can improve on this initiative process, as I am attempting to do by launching a new campaign this spring to enact the National Citizens Initiative, then it obviously improves the likelihood of citizens creating a new Citizens 911 Commission, since the 911 issue will be one of the political issues featured in the campaign.
This last year, one event has changes the dynamics of all socially progressive cause-groups: the global protests of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. An important part of their agenda is the creation of a new commission to investigate the events surrounding 911. It is my hope to persuade OWS with our campaign that direct democracy is the only way to bring about the agenda they are protesting about. Existing funds in the Democracy Foundation and the new funds from the dissolved Citizens 911 Commission Recipient Committee are being used to prepare for a spring campaign to educate OWS about direct democracy and to persuade them to vote and help others vote to enact the National Citizens Initiative into law.
I am also in contact with C100, the organization of student body presidents in colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad who indicate an interest in participating in our campaign this spring.
The process to enact the National Citizens Initiative can be undertaken in any country where citizens are allowed to vote. As a result of my recent tour of Europe, there is substantial interest to pursue a National Citizens Initiative in Switzerland and in Denmark. These countries with the proper support could see the enactment of a National Citizens Initiative within a year. Such a success would have a very favorable impact on the American enactment campaign.
Please feel free to share with me your views about my actions. The 911CC.org website is indisposed by the confusions of the dispute. However we will have a new site up later this month, which I will communicate to you, permitting you to evaluate the new campaign, to address political issues like 911 in different languages, to register, to vote, and of course to contribute if you share our vision.
Thank you. Sincerely Mike
Mike Gravel US Senate 1969-1981
nationalinitiative.us or NI4D.US
29 September 2011 – Youtube – Flyby News
Senator Mike Gravel Interview
Part 1 of 8 – Watch on Youtube – 9-20-2011
Full length (88 minute) program is available in high
resolution at Greenfield Community Television
More information at FN-wordpress link!
03 February 2012 – NI4D.US – Mike Gravel
What is the National Initiative for Democracy?
03 February 2012 – 9-11cc – (temporarily down)
Citizens 9/11 Commission
This is a new initiative that uses the prevailing ballot
box, to establish a truly independent commission to
pursue justice regarding the events of September 11.
Exposing the unanswered questions and cover-up!
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