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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:

2008-10-15-Picture6.png 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.

2008-10-15-richletter2.jpg Click on image for pdf.