11/15/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Right-Wing Intimidation Hits Home

Let me share with you a letter I received at home, Tuesday, September 30th.

At the time, I knew nothing about the sender or the organization of which he's

Chairman. Now, thanks to the Internet, I know a good deal more about him.

This letter arrived in a large, thin cardboard envelope, labeled "UPS Expedited

Mail." The envelope also proclaimed that this was "Expedited Mail by UPS

Mail Innovations" and it was "Time Sensitive Material." I don't remember ever

getting "Time Sensitive Material, Expedited by UPS Mail Innovations." Here is

the letter accompanied by a legal memorandum from the sender's attorney:


Click on image for pdf.

Here is my OPEN LETTER in response to Howard Rich, Chairman,

Americans for Limited Government Foundation:

Dear Howie,

Thanks for your time-sensitive, expedited letter, undated. Let me

call you Howie since you have my home address, something only my

friends and business associates have, and since there are almost four

million internet entries about you, many of which refer to you as Howie.

Do you like being called Howie? Probably as much as I like to get

threatening letters from people such as you. I'm sure you really don't

know anything about me, let alone my political leanings. How is it then

that you have my name and address and threaten to "publicize my

involvement in leftist organizations in my local community?"

Let me tell you about my local community. I live and work in

Hollywood, where if you publicize someone's involvement with the Left, a

thunderous yawn will likely arise over the basin. Unlike you, people out

here don't care what organizations a person belongs to. You must have

gotten my name as a result of sloppy work by a lazy hired hand because in

my case, you got the wrong guy. I wonder how many of the other 11,000

or more identical letters you sent went to people you've wrongly identified

as "belonging to the radical agenda of the left."

You see, I'm not a member of any political organization - left, right or

center. I gave a donation to Barack Obama, but not to any PAC's or any other

candidates. I once gave a donation to our local Sheriff, but I have no idea what

party he belongs to. I am a member of two prominent social clubs, both of

which could be called conservative. You might enjoy them as much as I do.

So what am I doing in your database?

As I mentioned, there are almost four million internet entries that

reference you and your organization. Some of them refer to you as a "wealthy,

New York developer." Like a lot of stuff that gets written about people, one

can't always verify the truth, but here are a few random entries: a posting

by a Robert W. Dalton claims you're "one of the most despised figures in South

Carolina politics." Mr. Dalton's posting goes on to quote the Spartanburg (SC)

Democratic Chairman who calls you "A disaster waiting to happen." The

Democratic Public Information Officer for the Union County Schools in South

Carolina says you're "pouring money into candidates who are willing to sell

their souls to get elected."

On the other hand, prominent Republicans like the State GOP Party

Chairman, the Spartanburg GOP County Chairman, and Governor Mark

Sandford (R) have nothing but good things to say about you. It seems the

dispute along party lines is over your desire to create a private school system

funded by taxpayers. You seem to be a big spender and you put your money

behind your beliefs. Nothing wrong with that, nothing that should cause anyone

to send you a threatening letter. But again at random, a website called

STOP BALLOT FRAUD says you "subsidize voter fraud." By the way, nice

picture of you on that website.

Surely my small donation to the Democratic candidate for President

can't be what offends you, so I invite you to lay out publicly exactly what it is

you consider to be my radical agenda. I'm sharing this note with the public

because it demands wider circulation. What you're expediting is Un-American.

False accusations. Threats. Attempts to suppress speech. As Joseph Welch,

long ago lamented to Senator Joe McCarthy, "Sir, have you no shame?"


William Friedkin

P. S. Enclosed is a letter to you from my lawyer, Eric George, sent by

regular mail.


Click on image for pdf.