Greed and low habits win out yet again.
Andre Marrou was originally from New England and of French Canadian descent. A graduate of MIT he moved to Alaska to avoid supporting his family after he left his wife with several small children. In Alaska he lived out in the wilderness for several years, married again, and then became a candidate for the state legislature there as a Libertarian, winning election in 1984 and serving in the legislature for two years. In the wake of the Randolph return to the Republican Party Marrou and his wife, Eileen, settled in Las Vegas.
Marrou had run for the vice-presidential nomination in 1988, securing that position at the 1987 convention in Seattle. At that time he had chosen as his campaign manager another Libertarian who also lived in Las Vegas, Michael Emerling, now known as Michael Cloud.
Michael Emerling Cloud had enjoyed a run of semi prosperity early in the LP's history as a writer and trainer of what he called, “The Art of Political Persuasion;” He had worked for Hunscher and been fired and gone to work for Woody Jenkins, a republican legislator in Louisiana for a short while. While there Emerling would send copies of the mailing list to friends.
Emerling ran workshops for candidates that allowed Emerling to make money while introducing him to the Libertarian Party across the country. In the early years Michael was open about the fact he was basically a con-man, making money and using his visibility to sleep with various women across the country. It was easy work and the perks were attractive. But in the aftermath of the Crane – Clark Campaign his behavior grew increasingly abusive and this resulted in a cessation of invitations to speak or present workshops. He then got a job selling cars in Las Vegas and married a woman much younger than himself who had a steady income.
Vickie, who was intellectually unsophisticated and trusting, believed she was entering into a classical monogamous marriage. This turned out to be very much not the case. In fact, given the evidence that accumulated over the years Vickie eventually came to the conclusion that her husband was actually bisexual, but preferred men. His many sexual relationships with women were more about power and profit than sexual gratification.
Emerling's financial habits caused problems both within his marriage, which ended in 1990, and for the LP, though this never became known at the time.
Over the years Emerling had borrowed money from friends and supporters. He declared bankruptcy, including in this a debt to a woman who had loaned him her life savings believing that they were about to start their lives together. When Marrou began his campaign for vice-president he was called and warned by Ed Clark that having Emerling as his campaign manager was a mistake. Clark was clear about the personal habits and questionable ethics Emerling had demonstrated over the years. Marrou chose to ignore this advice.
The irregularities in accounting for funds began immediately along with slip shod campaign scheduling. According to Emerling's then wife, Vickie Emerling, Michael's attempts to cut corners on their IRS return in 1987 caused them to be confronted with an obligation and penalties of around $40,000.00. Michael negotiated this down to $15,000.00 of which he forced Vickie to pay $500.00. The rest most likely was taken from the money then coming in as funds raised for the campaign because while no money went out of their joint income when Vickie asked she was told that the obligation had been handled. Vickie believes on the evidence that Marrou fundraising dollars were used to pay off the IRS. Money from the campaign was routinely used for personal purposes by both Marrou and Emerling, according to their wives who were paid for their own labors in cash.
The campaign was run out of a house in Las Vegas and later moved to Marrou's own home. During the campaign period Marrou fired Emerling. Andre said this was because Emerling insisted on putting out fundraising letters that made promises of which he, the candidate, was unaware. Marrou directed Emerling to stop; Emerling continued to send out mailings without showing the letters to Marrou in advance. As a result, Marrou fired Emerling as his campaign manager, unleashing a fire storm from Michael Emerling Cloud.
The Marrou Campaign had became the means Emerling used to relaunch himself into a career his own behavior had destroyed in the early 80s. After the firing Emerling began a campaign to remove Marrou from the ticket. The campaign included charges of credit card fraud and theft from the campaign. The National Committee held meetings with Marrou and decided that the credit card charges were unsubstantiated. Emerling and friends of his began sending out news releases to towns where Marrou was scheduled to speak in attempts to derail the campaign. This behavior caused some in the LP to characterize Emerling as, “an enemy of freedom.” But with the facility of the cat with nine lives Emerling would be back.
For Marrou the ride ended with election day, 1992. For Emerling the ride continued for another ten years.
The Crane Machine launches a stealth campaign, using initiatives – 1992
In 1983 Howie Rich acquired a new toy from the Koch Brothers. Charles and David had run into nothing but trouble with the Citizens for Congressional Reform and 'sold' it to Howie, though there was no evidence that money actually changed hands.
After spending ten years probing around in the Republican Party and working to get visibility for themselves through Cato with Congress the Crane Cabal had failed to accomplish much. Duncan Scott had been elected as a state legislator in New Mexico, moving on from there to Montana. Howie and his wife, Andrea continued to invest in real estate in New York.
The first Tax Credit Initiative had been fielded in 1982 in California by Manny Klausner, one of the founders of Reason Magazine.
Howie's new acquisition had promise soon to be realized. From 1992 on the Crane Cabal, as always managed for Crane by Howie Rich, spawned an incredible proliferation of identical not-for-profit organizations, each dedicated to doing pretty much the same thing. All were mostly virtual organizations; Many were created by the same web designers. These were used to build out a stealth campaign to employ the initiative process to change the laws in states where this was allowed. This fit in exactly with the original game plan of the Crane Machine. Crane had always viewed local activists as an obstacle to his accumulation of power. Now, local activists were no longer an issue.
In employing this growing collection of nonprofits Crane took the logic of centralization of power to a new application. These modeled on the National Taxpayers Union, a real organization that had provided a steady income for its originators, one that would eventually lead them to partnership with those who would eventually be known as NeoCons.
The first of the Crane-Howie organizations, U. S. Term Limits, focused on limiting the number of terms for any elected legislator. It would be followed by initiatives that promoted an end to eminent domain, school choice, and spending caps by government and eventually measures such as legislation relating to end of life issues raised by the Terry Schivo Case and abortion recovery. Each of these offered opportunities for moving money and for profit.
Many individuals in various states had worked for these kinds of measure; the problem was not the use of the initiative process, a tool introduced by the Populists to allow local people to change government, making it responsive to their needs. It was the means that made the Crane – Howie strategy questionable.
The initiatives themselves often caused problems because they did not reflect the needs of those who had to live with the resulting law. Even more egregiously, the initiatives were deceptively run as 'grass roots' efforts to potential donors outside the state when they did not have real support within the state and left no body of local expertise or enhanced organization in their wake. It was a reprise of the Crane – Clark Campaign, this time run at a profit. Unused funds were transferred into the accounts of those who Crane and Howie had known and worked with since the 70s.
But worse than this pilfering of funds, illegal but justified as an acceptable means for advancing their agenda, was the lack of goals and a consistent strategy to achieve ends that advanced the cause of local control and individual governance by consent and persuasion. .
In the original vision of American government the Founders had assumed that local towns and the people who lived in them would make their own rules for how they structured their lives. This could be seen as a multitude of small experiments in living that would allow for a learning curve, helping a free people develop the means of reducing conflict as they learned to live outside of a traditional hierarchy imposed externally. This model for local government had fallen victim to the centralization of power both by states and by the Federalizing of power after the Revolution. Presumably, returning to this original model should have been on the agenda for all libertarians, both those within the Party, those in think tanks like Cato, and those who were in the non-party movement. It was not. Instead these variously followed strategies of conquest, disinformation, and withdrawal into insulated groups that ignored the mainstream entirely. Only a few individuals within the movement as a whole followed strategies that served to focus their activism on local organizing on issues that then could serve to develop the skills of small governance using persuasion and consent.
Sometimes things are just too obvious to grasp, especially, perhaps, when those making the decisions have a very different conception of what freedom means.
Through the next 15 years the Crane Machine would produce cookie cutter nonprofits by the dozens that only served to develop local organization when their activities antagonized local people so much they organized to oppose the initiatives that the Crane Machine fielded. In some cases the Crane-Howie initiatives quashed ongoing local efforts to achieve similar goals, again destroying the learning process for local organizing. The Crane – Howie initiatives used out of state contractors, paid signature gatherers, pouring in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, sometimes swamping local opposition. In some cases the Crane – Howie Machine would outspend local activists six to one to get their measures passed into law. Those who provided the funding for the Crane – Howie initiatives would be, ironically enough, the same corporations who had become of entrenched subsidizers of big government who demonstrably had strong economic incentives in this serial campaign that changed law without educating or empowering local people and grass roots democracy.
This leaves the question of whether or not the Crane Machine intended to sell its services to Big Government and to the corporations which control government to the judgment of the reader. It is possible they were blinded by their own ideology, which was founded in the naïve, bodice ripping unreality of Rand. The Richs especially had come to the movement through the NBI in New York and through wealth and age had become elder statesmen in this micro cult.