Sunday, October 19, 2008

A lot of questions left on the table

Since I broke this story last week, the Goode campaign and Jerry Meadors have responded. Unfortunately, their response has done nothing to clear up suspicions.

First, as I've said repeatedly, the biggest part of the story is the $150K that Goode directed to Jerry Meador - the homosexual writer and producer of Eden's Curve. The response we have been given is that a) the earmark came after the movie was filmed and b) it was solely for the purposes of theater renovation.

These responses are just patently off-point. It really doesn't matter that the actual filming of the movie took place in 2001; the movie debuted in 2003. At that point in the production cycle, you are still looking at marketing and distribution expenses. Further, first-time movie producers are famous for going into deep debt in order to fulfill their dream. Was the $150K used to retire debt or defray any expense whatsoever having to do with Eden's Curve? We haven't been given an answer to that question. A cynic may even say that it has been studiously avoided. One more note: as Meadors himself has admitted, Eden's Curve was shown at Gay Film Festivals around the world. Where did he get the money for those excursions? If he could afford such fabulous extravagance on his salary as theater director, why in the world did the North Theater need an earmark?

Next - as noted in the video above - this was Linwood Duncan's first and only role in any widely distributed film. (I don't know what kind of home movies he's made). He told a newspaper that he didn't read the script of the movie or watch it after it came out. Does that sound truthful to you? If you were offered a big Hollywood break... if you had a speaking role in a film... wouldn't you at least watch it? Wouldn't you read the script to find out what the movie was about? If you worked for a politician with a national reputation that included an anti-homosexual Republican-style family-values component, wouldn't you at least read the script your homosexual childhood friend brought to you before committing to appear in his movie?

I'll add to this post over the next few days; until then, if you see Virgil Goode, Jerry Meadors or Linwood Duncan, see if you can pin them down on these questions.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Lou Barletta (R candidate for PA-11)

The nature of my work is such that many of you readers feel compelled to email me information about people that may have done some unsavory things. Many of these "tips" are non-starters; they either nearly impossible to investigate, or they are just so extreme that it's difficult to take them seriously unless they are somehow substantiated. A coupla weeks ago, I received a tip that I thought was pretty incredible. There wasn't much by the way of substantiation, so I almost set it aside. But something pulled me back. The tip was this: that Lou Barletta, Republican candidate for Congress in PA-11 - and nationally known for the aggressive anti-illegal policies he implemented as Mayor of Hazleton - had impregnated a young Latino girl. I ended up making some calls; before I knew it, I was on the ground in Hazleton investigating. As a result of my investigation, I chose to write a letter to the Mayor and personally deliver it to him. First, here is the letter:

Accountability Moments
Charlottesville, VA 22901

October 1, 2008

Mayor Louis Barletta
c/o City of Hazleton
40 N. Church Street,
Hazleton, PA 18201

Mayor Barletta:

I am a progressive investigative blogger at, and I run

I base my work on the idea that government works best when elected public officials are asked pointed, sometimes inconvenient questions to serve the public interest.

Several weeks ago, I received tips from several readers about a story in which you had allegedly impregnated an underage illegal immigrant a few years ago. I was dumbfounded at first, as I considered it highly unlikely that someone who had made such efforts to fight illegal immigration on the national stage would have engaged in such behavior.

However, after investigating the story I think there is enough to be concerned about to ask you to answer some important questions to quickly address this matter:

• Did you father a child out of wedlock within the last 5 years?
• If you did so, was the female you impregnated a minor at the time?
• If true, was the mother of the child in this country legally?
• If you have had an illegitimate child, have you taken financial responsibility for him or her?
• Is it true that you sent the young mother and your illegitimate child to New Jersey to stay out of public view?
• If these allegations are true, did you -- in any fashion -- use taxpayer resources to address, handle or cover-up such a situation?

Mayor Barletta, I take no pleasure in asking these questions, and I sincerely hope there is an innocent explanation for this situation. Practically everyone I met in and around Hazelton gave me details about this situation, and they expressed a mixture of outrage at your behavior and fear of reprisal if they were to come forward publicly with the knowledge of the story.

I hold out no hope that if these questions were put to you privately that you would answer them, and, as a public figure who has worked to gain fame on the immigration issue, I think it’s important to ask you to clear up this important matter.

Please note that nobody has paid me to do this, and I have had no contact with any political organization or campaign.

Thank you in advance for your prompt response.

Best regards,
Michael Stark

Here is the video - beneath it you will find a transcript of our conversation.

Stark: Mayor Barletta! My name is Mike Stark. I came all the way from Virginia to see you. I'm with Accountability Moments. I want to give you this letter and
I wanted to know: Did you impregnate a 15 year old Latino girl, and then move her to Union, New Jersey...

Barletta: Where?

Stark: Union, New Jersey - and whether or not you used taxpayer funds to hide or cover it up in any way at all?

Barletta: It's a lie. This is the first time I've ever heard this before.

Stark: That's the first time you ever heard this?

Barletta: Yeah (nodding head)

Stark: Well, that's what I needed was an explicit denial.

Barletta: One other point...

Stark: {I take hold of his arm in a friendly way and I notice it is shaking.} Why are you shaking?

Barletta: I’m not shaking… Listen, listen… This came up in my last race in the primary. When I ran last time - for Mayor - we heard this was being said and supposedly a girl was going to surface. Of course, she never did. We found out who had this supposed story and had our police chief question him. Nothing. Nothing.

Stark: When was that primary you had?

Barletta: The last time I ran. For Mayor. And what happened was we had the police investigate and nothing ever came of it. But we know this is how they are going to come after me. They did it before.

Stark: I want to be discreet. I don't want to say the name. (I lean in) Can you
explain why a girl named J*** disappears from the Hazleton High yearbook for three years?

Barletta: Who?

Stark: J****

Stark: So do you own any property in Union, New Jersey?

Barletta: No. No. No. No. My police chief investigated... wait... Here he is right now, let me introduce you.

Barletta: (says something to chief that I couldn’t make out - asks the Chief to
talk to me)

Stark: Well, I want to be discreet here. I don’t want to…

Barletta: Go ahead and tell him…

Stark: Well, Chief, I have been investigating and what I have come up with is evidence that points to the mayor having impregnated an underage girl. I came here to ask him directly.

Chief: Who told you that?

Stark: Several people.

Chief: Really? (scowls)

Stark: Well, thanks - looks like you guys got a really good turn-out here. Take care.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

John McCain, 2008

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I'm just going to repost what I wrote over at the HuffingtonPost:

Several weeks ago, I was clicking through John McCain's presidential campaign website. In the "Events" section I found a listing for a June 13 Townhall Meeting in Pemberton, New Jersey; I decided to attend.

McCain did not pick me out of the crowd to ask a question on live TV, but I was able to speak with him as the event wound down.

This is how it went:

Right after the speech, I knew McCain would work the rope line. Since I was in the front row, it only took me about three steps to get there.

I spoke loudly:

"Senator McCain - I noticed you aren't wearing your flag lapel-pin. May I give you mine?"

McCain: "Yes, sir, you can" (what else was he going to say? - he really wasn't wearing a flag pin.)

now I had him front and center...

"Senator, I spent four years in the Marines"

McCain: "Thank you for your service."

"Oh, no sir, thank you for yours. I have a feeling this is as close as I will ever come to pinning a medal on you." (said as I'm fastening the lapel pin) "Senator - you know our motto is Semper Fidelis - always faithful?"

McCain: "Oh yes, I do"

"Well have you always been faithful to Cindy McCain?"


McCain: "Oh no... that's not what I'm going to talk about."

"Have you been faithful to your wife? You won't answer? C'mon - how 'bout a little of that straight talk?"

(crowd beginning to get angry - hissing)

McCain: "Young man, I will tell you that I have a son serving in Iraq in the Marines."

"Yes - I know. I know a lot about you. Have you cheated on Cindy McCain? Why won't you answer?"

McCain turned away.

(All of the aforementioned was caught on film and microphone by the networks. As far as I know, it has not been released and probably won't be. [When I asked Senator Allen - after the macaca incident - if he ever used the word "nigger" and why he kept a Confederate Flag and noose in his office, the NBC camera guy caught the whole exchange. It, to this day, has never aired in its entirety. The only reason I know it exists is that the video (without the sound) was shown to provide context to the later incident in which Allen's goons threw me to the ground.])

Of course, I could have asked any number of other questions. I had thought of a few:

"Senator: there's been a lot of media chatter about Barack Obama having difficulty wooing women voters that formerly supported Hillary Clinton. The unspoken assumption is that they will cross over and vote for you. Do believe this assumption holds water considering the fact that you left your first wife - a former swimsuit model - after she was disfigured in a car accident and put on a few pounds?"

"Senator: You've pushed back against the assertion that you want to stay in Iraq for the next hundred years. You've said that as long as we aren't taking casualties, a presence like that in Korea or Germany is fine with you. You've said the surge is working, that casualties are down, that we are winning the war in Iraq...

In the end, it sounds to me like you are saying that if we win the war in Iraq, if we aren't taking casualties... we stay... (after all, according to you, bringing the troops home isn't important...)


If we get our asses handed to us in Iraq - if we suffer a lot of casualties - we must win the war, so... we stay...

You haven't shared with the American people what conditions must prevail for American troops to come home. Can you set forth the conditions you would require to pull all combat and combat support troops out of Iraq?"

I chose to forgo these questions in favor of the one I asked because once I decided to attend the event, I reached out to contacts in Washington for advice. After several conversations, a pattern emerged.

Not long ago, the New York Times reported the story of McCain's relationship with the sultry lobbyist, Vicki Iseman. McCain surrogates furiously denounced the story, but oddly, John McCain never brought it up.

As I made the rounds in Washington, several people mentioned the story. A theme developed. None would go on the record, but more than one suggested that fidelity in the McCain marriage was not a priority for either partner. I was told that reporters know a lot more than they let on, but they are reticent about bringing it up.

After chewing on the situation for a while, I decided to ask McCain a question about fidelity for two reasons.

The first has to do with raw politics. I don't believe for a second that John McCain will beat Barack Obama in November. Obama draws tens of thousands to his rallies; McCain is lucky if a thousand people show up for his. Barack has a cash machine that shames anything that came before it. McCain's campaign can barely afford the gas for his Straight Talk Express. Barack is inspiring, McCain is tiring...


Down-ticket races need to be considered as well. Again, almost nobody doubts that Democrats will pick up a substantial number of seats in both houses of Congress. The pressing question is how many seats will flip. Will Democrats get to 60 seats in the Senate?

Every election has its close races. In Virginia, Webb beat Allen by fewer than 10,000 votes. Many, many House seats were determined by fewer than 5,000 votes. Every single vote counts.

I've seen analysis that the evangelical Christian community constitutes 30% of the Republican base. These fundamentalist voters drove the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Republicans are more than capable of reading polls; they knew that the majority of Americans just wanted to MoveOn... Republicans found themselves between a rock and a hard place. The impeachment route made them look partisan and petty to the majority of Americans, but their base wanted it more than anything else...

They decided to dance with who brung 'em. Evangelicals elected them so evangelicals would get their scalp. And Clinton was impeached. (McCain voted in favor of impeachment).

McCain is already on thin-ice with evangelicals. James Dobson won't take his calls. John Hagee's followers still smart over McCain's condemnations. He famously disparaged Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell in the 2000 campaign and he renounced mega-church Pastor Rob Parsely this cycle. McCain's support of embryonic stem-cell research, limited environmental protections and campaign finance reform have each generated withering criticism from the religious right.

The last thing the Republican paryy needs is a John McCain adultery problem.

Check that.

The second to last thing Republican party needs is a John McCain adultery problem. The last thing they need is a John McCain cuckold problem.

And the buzz in Washington is that he's got one.

The second reason I decided to ask McCain about adultery has to do with the way the press has treated the issue. That's the topic of another post, coming soon.

John McCain, circa 2000

You know, I had almost forgotten about something. Way back in the winter of 1999-2000, John McCain spoke to a crowd of people in Manhattan's financial district. At the time he was George W. Bush's competition for the Republican nomination. I was in the crowd. And I was supporting John McCain.

Don't shoot! At the time, I believed money in politics was the greatest evil - actually, I still believe that - and John McCain had been leading on that issue. I figured that if he could clean up politics, it wouldn't matter how conservative he was; we'd finally be able to get good people in office. Sorry to say, that never worked out.

Anyway, it's hard to remember a time when Presidential candidates had to be concerned about racial profiling, but that was the case then. McCain gave his little talk, and at the end of it, I shouted, "What is your position on racial profiling?" Things were too hectic for him to hear me, but a bunch of crazies immediately descended upon me handing me all sorts of literature about George Bush.

Huh. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure that was the first time I spoke aloud in public about a political issue.

Barack Obama

Whassa matta? My questions to Nancy Pelosi weren't enough to convince you that I'm willing to run against Democrats when they're wrong?

OK, well maybe this will help settle the issue.

Over the summer (2008), after he had sewn up the nomination, Barack Obama welshed on a promise he had made to Democrats in the heat of primary season. He had pledged to oppose the expansion of the body of law that dictates when the gov't may spy on the telephone conversations of the citizenry (FISA for short). For whatever reason, he chose to support the bill when it came up.

I used his website,, to organize what was then the largest "group" on his site. Once again, I found myself splashed across the pages of several newspapers. Most significantly, the New York Times wrote my profile.


Nancy Pelosi

Lest one believe that I'm willing to turn the other way when it's Democrats that are not behaving properly...

Nancy Pelosi

Bill Bennett/John McCain

One of my favorite things to do is to use the right-wing platform against them. Here I do my best to sew legitimate doubt about John McCain using Bill Bennett's radio show:
Bill Bennett