Longform

GIVE ME THAT OLD-TIME CONSTITUTION

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That same year, a Seattle Times investigation linked the Wise Use Movement to Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, through Gottlieb. He had been a fund raiser for and a member of the board of directors of the Washington-state chapter of the American Freedom Coalition, a Moonie political lobbying organization that ingratiates itself with ultraright, "family values" causes and organizations. Arnold, the reports argued, was on the speakers' circuit as well for CAUSA, another Moonie political organization. And Arnold's and Gottlieb's Center for Defense of Free Enterprise shared office space with the Moonie American Freedom Coalition. These allegations were later repeated in reports from the Canadian Parliament.

It is no secret that Reverend Moon is establishing himself as a political presence in the United States with his vision of one-world theocracy. To that end, his organizations attach themselves to like-minded conservative groups. Arnold claims that Moonie dominance of the Wise Use Movement is patently false, and refers to Reverend Moon as "some slanty-eyed gook who thinks he's God or whatever." Then he softens and admits that Moon's American Freedom Coalition had "a presence at the outset." But now, he says, "To the best of my knowledge, there are no Moonies in the Wise Use Movement. And if there are, who cares? There are Jews and Catholics, too."

Arnold wields disinformation like a bludgeon. He claims that Walter Hatch, the Seattle Times reporter who broke the Moonie story, was fired for irresponsible journalism. Hatch no longer works for the newspaper, but his superiors not only deny he was fired, they laud his reporting and his ethics.

Furthermore, Hatch claims that Arnold threatened him: "He said if I did anything to hurt the Unification Church that he would come after me." And he claims that Arnold did, in fact, spread false rumors about his political and personal associations.

If there are questions about links between Ron Arnold's Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and the Moonies, there are no doubts about the center's ties to the highest levels of the Republican party. Arnold's partner, Gottlieb, has widely circulated a photograph of himself with President Bush. Arnold brags about his connections to David McIntosh of the Council on Competitiveness and to various congressmen, including Senator Symms, who championed the unsuccessful national property rights bill. Mark Pollot, a former Justice Department attorney who co-wrote Reagan's executive order and the Symms bill, takes case referrals from the center. "Is that influence at the highest levels?" Arnold asks gleefully. "You tell me."

Arnold argues that the purpose of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise is not to lobby, but to educate and disseminate information. His Arizona mailing list is a who's who of 1053 supporters: executives at Stone Forest, Phelps Dodge and the Farm Bureau, the NRA, the Arizona Cattlemen's Association and ACCORD, the Arizona Citizen's Coalition on Resource Decisions. ACCORD is not really a citizens' group, but rather a consortium headed by Bruce Whiting of Kaibab Industries and comprising three other timber companies, mining, farming and ranching associations, off-road enthusiasts, the Lincoln Caucus (which has sponsored antienvironmental conferences and collaborates with the American Freedom Coalition) and several other like-minded organizations.

Officially, they all distance themselves from Arnold; Mark Killian calls him an extremist. Unofficially, it's a different story. Killian has quoted Arnold in articles he's written about the Arizona property rights bill. And ACCORD newsletters feature nuggets of his wisdom as "Quotable Quotes from Ron Arnold." ACCORD also sent a letter of sponsorship to the Wise Use conference in Reno last June, which was held to coincide with and parody the Earth Summit.

"I think what Ron Arnold has done is to give those people ideas on how to fight back, how to play the legislative game," says Killian of ACCORD's members. For his part, Arnold thinks his side has won at least one battle in Arizona. "We're sending copies of the Arizona legislation to everybody we know," he says delightedly.

@rule:
@body:But the war is far from over. Common Cause and Sierra Club canvassers collected 71,669 signatures on petitions, almost 20,000 more than they needed to bring 1053 to a vote in the 1994 general election.

Killian has threatened to challenge the petitions. "I believe many of the signatures were obtained under false pretenses," he says, claiming that canvassers told signers that the bill repealed all antipollution laws. And though Killian has suggested he would be willing to sit down with his opponents to hammer out a compromise, the environmentalists fear he'll nickel-and-dime them with more antienvironmental legislation to keep them occupied.

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Michael Kiefer