Frothing for Dollars: the New Alliance Party, H. Ross Perot and Grassroots Revolt

By Marina Ortiz

(originally published in The Shadow, September 1992 – Issue # 26)

“Benevolent” despot Dr. Fred Newman, his self-professed protégé, Dr. Lenora Fulani, the current chair and 1992 presidential candidate of the spurious New Alliance Party (NAP), and their band of disciples, have been at it again.

Having perfected the art of psycho-political cultism and deception under the auspices of Lyndon LaRouche’s National Caucus of Labor Committees in 1974 and through Newman’s own Social Therapy, the group would now have us swallow some bile about former presidential aspirant H. Ross Perot’s (and their own) big-business populism as fodder for the disenfranchised – a premise which falters in light of the cult’s own obstruction of minority empowerment.

The group’s newspaper, the National Alliance, carried six front-page articles espousing the candidacy of billionaire Perot, one of which – in typical “Newmanite” braggadocio-–included a tidbit about NAP spokeswoman and Alliance editor Jacqueline Salit and NAP attorney Gary Sinawski having ‘consulted” with Perotite John Jay Hooker about the complex ballot access requirements for independents.

And what of Fulani's own presidential aspirations (which, in 1988, were such that she became the first woman and African-American to be on the ballot in all 50 states)?  According to Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, Fulani has decided to forego the stringent ballot access process in eight of the most difficult states – Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia – because, as NAP asserts, repeating such an expensive and tame-and labor-consuming endeavor would be a “moot point.”

NAP, it would seem, has opted to ride the coattails of Perot’s campaign (as was the case with progressive insurgent Larry Agran during the Democratic Party primaries earlier this year) which, they predicted, would “revolutionize” the electoral system.  However, the “mystery” of how minorities and grassroots insurgents would fare under Perot’s reign has been settled by the billionaire’s carefully orchestrated ‘withdrawal” from the race and his cunning manipulation of disenchanted voters for a conservative “fix it” agenda.

Perot-mania now crumbling, NAP champions its own demagoguery while collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting contributors with which to finance the cult’s appealing “pro-democracy” operations.  In addition to $2.5 million, much of which has been federally matched, Fulani’s campaign has also managed to raise much sectarian offal.

Gerald Home, chair of the Black Studies Department at the University of California and a Peace and Freedom Party Senate candidate, independent presidential candidate Ron Daniels, and Village Voice reporters Mike Tomasky and Doug Ireland, having failed the group’s litmus test for “progressives” (Newmanite vs. Democratic Party “whores”), were recently denounced for their appraisal of Perot and NAP’s embracing analysis.

“Isn’t that just like the orthodox left?’ grumbled columnist Mary Fridley in the June 25 issue of the Alliance about Norm’s criticism.  “Their own followers tell them to fuck off (referring to Fulani’s appropriation of the Peace & Freedom Party presidential nomination), and they still try to Horne in on the action.”

But perhaps the cult itself should speak to that issue for its pendulous mood swings to an even stronger retaliatory beat in regard to its own “people machine.”  Its blind grassroots support disintegrating, the group now moves to quell all criticism as former NAP supporters in Baltimore have been legally charged for challenging the party’s internal hierarchy.

According to Morning Sunday, the NAP’s state committee chair for Fulani’s 1992 presidential campaign in Maryland, the party’s local operations are controlled by a New York City-based national staff comprised of ‘mostly-white elitists.’

Sunday, an African-American environmentalist and Baltimore activist, became a NAP supporter after reading about Fulani in 1988 and “hearing all the buzz words … about building an independent grassroots movement in my own backyard.  NAP seemed the only ones willing to come to me on my level,” she explained.  But support for the local chapters was, she asserts, abandoned once Fulani’s 1988 presidential campaign was over.

Still, Fulani, a practicing Social Therapist, effectively consoled the disheartened Sunday.  “What can I do to make independent politics more accessible to you?’ she inquired during long-distance conference calls with Sunday and other regional committee members.

Sunday’s request for increased committee responsibility and communication and support for local campaigns were ignored.  Instead she says, national NAP continually pressed the chapters for money.  Although she was taken aback by the persistent solicitations, Sunday continued working with NAP, investing much of her own energy and resources “in the hopes of building a viable NAP operation in Baltimore.

In the spring of 1991, “support’ finally arrived in the form of Chuck Knapp, a national NAPer who had been sent down to ready the chapter for Fulani’s 1992 presidential campaign.  According to Sunday, Knapp was accompanied by a “volunteer” whom she later discovered was wanted [by police] in connection with the rape of a 15-year old in Boston, the two having driven into Baltimore in what Sunday believes was a stolen vehicle.

The NAP apprentice, she adds, caused extensive damage to her property during his period as a guest in Sunday’s home.  He eventually disappeared, Sunday says, but not before cutting her phone lines and stealing her husbands’ brand-new car and thousands of dollars in personal effects during an early-morning robbery.

“My trust factor had been broken,” Sunday said.  But despite the frightening experience, [she] was convinced by Fulani and national NAPer David Belmont that it had been an ‘outside” stunt and continued working with NAP.  As time wore on, however, Sunday began reassessing the situation.

“The directive from national, she discerned, was to solicit petition signatures amongst mostly lower-strata Blacks as national NAPers Sherry Wormser, a Jewish organizer, and Mary Rivera, a Puerto Rican, who came down from New York “were disinclined to venture into other communities.”

Although “the bottom line was always signatures and money for national,” Sunday says she was still optimistic enough about NAP to help coordinate a campaign fundraiser at Baltimore’s Chroma Gallery last spring.

According to Sunday, the event took in over $3,000, all of which was collected by Wormser and then immediately forwarded to New York.  After requesting a portion for chapter expenses, Sunday says she was informed that the money had been used to help defray a budget deficit in the party’s Mid-Atlantic region, of which her chapter was a part.

Furthermore, Sunday asserts, NAP declined to cover expenses incurred in recovering her husband’s stolen car from Allen, South Dakota, where the “volunteer” had discarded it.  While national had charged her airline ticket to their Credit card, she says, they later demanded reimbursement.

Fed up with NAP’s “dictatorial hierarchy,” Sunday began conferring with former Maryland NAP chairs Doug Ross (1988) and Annie Chambers (1984), who both described similar episodes.  “The situation quickly escalated into a heated battle between the disenchanted Baltimore locals and the national NAP leadership.

Sunday says that she was in the midst of a number of personal crises on Friday, March 13, when Wormser demanded Sunday accompany her to file a Statement of Intent to Form a New Political Party and petition cover sheets bearing her required signature.  Astonished by the untimely pressure – Maryland’s Elections Code did not require 10,000 valid signal urea until August 3 – Sunday refused.

NAP claims that, “with intent to mislead,” Sunday then obtained possession of the 12,000 petition signatures that had been gathered under her tenure.  Sunday maintains that she was given the petitions by Wormser, who insisted that she file them with the State Administrative Board of Elections the following Monday, and that it was only after receiving a number of threatening phone calls that she refused to file the papers or turn over the petitions.

Sunday’s confidante Chambers – who says she had been warned away from NAP by, among others, its 1984 presidential candidate, Dennis Serrette (who resigned after being similarly ostracized by the group), said that she then spoke to Fulani directly.  During the conversation, Chambers says she suggested holding a meeting of the 25-member Maryland committee to [help] arbitrate the dispute, to which Fulani reportedly responded, “1 don’t want to know a fucking thing about that.  I want my petitions, bitch!”

In a related Baltimore Sun article, Sunday expressed fear for her and her family’s safety.  “I’ve been threatened" she asserted as had other people who had “bucked the national leadership.”  The April 25 article also quoted Sunday’s description of NAP as having ‘a distinct class system,” and “no different than the Democrats and Republicans.  They would send us marching orders … without any input at all … [a]nd when we tried to question their authority, all hell broke loose.  They went into a severe attack phase.”

NAPer Rivera had by then filed criminal charges on behalf of the campaign in Baltimore District Court alleging that Sunday and Chambers had stolen the petitions with intent to sabotage Fulani’s campaign.  Prior to the complaint, Sunday and Chambers received a letter from NAP attorney Arthur Block in which civil action had also been threatened.

With NAP claiming petition replacement costs in excess of $12,000, and disruptive and punitive damages and attorney’s fees exceeding $350,000 – twice the price of Sunday’s home and possessions and vastly surpassing those of Chambers, a 50-year old welfare rights activist and mother – the March 23 letter was obviously designed to intimidate the grassroots activists.

On Tuesday, June 9, Case Nos. 829390B0 and 829390B2 went before Baltimore District Court as a non-jury trial in a room which, according to Sunday’s and Chambers’ attorney, Luther West, was “filled with over a dozen mostly-white New York NAP attorneys and followers.”  The one and one-half hour spectacle ended with District Judge Barbara Bear Waxman denying West’s motion for a finding of not guilty.

Disclosures about the cult’s machinations notwithstanding, Waxman ruled that the petitions were, in fact, the legal property of NAP.  Chambers and Sunday were found guilty of theft and then ordered to return the petitions or face disposition.

An agreement between the parties was subsequently reached and, according to Chambers, all petitions in their possession were returned to NAP [on June 21] through an intermediary –Fattier Peter Bramble of Baltimore’s St. Michael’s Church.

Despite the settlement, Chambers was given a 90-day suspended sentence [on June 30] and ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and one-year of probation.  Sunday’s six-month sentence was also suspended and she was put on probation fur one year with 200 hours of community service.

According to West, Sunday was also ordered to legally resign as the Maryland chair, as to allow would-be-chair Wormser to file the petitions and accompanying Statement of Intent to Form a New Political Party – an action which Sunday had thus far refused to [carry out].  Chambers and Sunday are currently appealing Waxman's verdict and considering a civil suit against Fulani and NAP.

In an Alliance back-burner summary of the case, attorney Block declared Sunday’s conviction a “first-of-a-kind’ legal victory which “serves notice that criminal interference with the independent political movement will not be tolerated.”

The chilly message on grassroots dissent was then amended by Fulani.  “1 have no interest in seeing anyone go to jail,” she argued, “but the future of the African-American community lies in the direction of independent politics.  People need to realize that – if they try to stand in the way of the independent democracy movement we are building – they won’t get away with it.”

Fulani then attended the 52nd annual convention of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an African-American organization, held at the city’s Hyatt Regency Hotel on June 11, where she steered the members’ outrage over Democratic Party presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s last minute no-show into support for her own “Black” agenda.

Clinton’s position on the death penalty, his Rainbow Coalition convention criticisms or rapper Sister Soljah and, later, Jesse Jackson – both of whom Fulani has also denounced – and other offenses notwithstanding, Fulani pompously declared her own confrontations with Clinton in Harlem, and New Hampshire as the reason for his absence.

She, of course, never queried Perot’s failure to attend the event, concentrating instead on exploiting minority fervor for empowerment and self-determination – issues which she and her “Black-led” party does not, in practice, support.  If they had, they would not have played political hardball with Sunday and Chambers, nor so viciously vilified their former Georgia state chair, Alvin Munson in 1991, Dennis Serrette In 1984, and countless others who have resigned under similar circumstances.

And, if NAP is such a viable independent alternative, why are Munson and others now building their own Black-led political coalition – the Southern Action Committee/New Action Party? Why did Vernon Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement (a spokesman for Fulani’s 1988 presidential campaign), run for County Commissioner in Minnesota in 1990 instead of endorsing NAP’s own candidate, Sandra Coleman?  And, why did Pedro Espada (NAP’s 1989 New York City Council candidate who garnered 42% of the vote against incumbent Rafael Castaneira Colon), later distance himself from the party?  The cult's response, of course, would be to dismiss them as sellouts and Democratic Party hacks.

As “progressives,” Newman and company might also consider their two-decade history of cooptation and infiltration efforts, legal suits, and sectarian smear campaigns and petition challenges against progressives and insurgents such as Edward Wallace in 1983, Jesse Jackson in 1984, David Dinkins in 1989, Jitu Weusi and Timothy Evans in 1990, and Ron Daniels and Jerry Brown in 1992.

In Machiavellian terms, these so-called ‘liberal whores” may not be “serious enough.”  But, then, why did the Newmanites conduct [political] intercourse with the likes of Perot?  [They would do wise to remember] that turncoat ‘populists’ usually turn into fascists – first courting and then exterminating Jews, gays, progressives, and others in order to further their own agenda.

About the Author:  a former member of Newman's cult, Ms. Ortiz's articles have appeared in the group's National Alliance newspaper and various student and community-based publications.  She hopes this article will encourage other individuals formerly or currently involved with she cult to reexamine their experience and join her in speaking out.

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