Ron Paul, well known as a physician, congressman and libertarian , has also been a businessman who pursued a marketing strategy that included publishing provocative, racially charged newsletters to make money and spread his ideas, according to three people with direct knowledge of Paul’s businesses.
The Republican presidential candidate has denied writing inflammatory passages in the pamphlets from the 1990s and said recently that he did not read them at the time or for years afterward. Numerous colleagues said he does not hold racist views.
But people close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.
“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,’’ said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman.
The newsletters point to a rarely seen and somewhat opaque side of Paul, who has surprised the political community by becoming an important factor in the Republican race. The candidate, who has presented himself as a kindly doctor and political truth-teller, declined in a recent debate to release his tax returns, joking that he would be “embarrassed” about his income compared with that of his richer GOP rivals.
Yet a review of his enterprises reveals a sharp-eyed businessman who for nearly two decades oversaw the company and a nonprofit foundation, intertwining them with his political career. The newsletters, which were launched in the mid-1980s and bore such names as the Ron Paul Survival Report, were produced by a company Paul dissolved in 2001.
The company shared offices with his campaigns and foundation at various points, according to those familiar with the operation. Public records show Paul’s wife and daughter were officers of the newsletter company and foundation; his daughter also served as his campaign treasurer.
Jesse Benton, a presidential campaign spokesman, said that the accounts of Paul’s involvement were untrue and that Paul was practicing medicine full time when “the offensive material appeared under his name.” Paul “abhors it, rejects it and has taken responsibility for it as he should have better policed the work being done under his masthead,” Benton said. He did not comment on Paul’s business strategy.
From the outset, it was clear that Paul’s fans had to believe one of two things: Either Paul was actively involved in the writing and editing of his newsletters, knew their content, approved of it, and therefore bears massive amounts of blame for the racist content of the written material that went out under his name, or he was completely out of touch and clueless. The former scenario makes his behavior vile. The latter, makes it clear that he has no business being president, given that he cannot even govern.
Well, say this for Paul: He appears not to have been clueless.
Oh, and for Ron Paul fans: Be sure to read the last paragraph of my earlier post, which I linked to above. The comments policy I stated there when it comes to discussing Paul and his newsletters remains in effect.
UPDATE: And of course, Andrew Sullivan continues to give Paul a pass. “Facts Be Damned” appears to be the new slogan for Sullivan’s site.