The Washington Post has a long piece about Ron Paul’s now-infamous newsletters, which contained lots of racist and just plain insane rantings, and quotes several sources who suggest that Paul approved the newsletters before they went out and made a deliberate decision to put more extreme content in it for financial reasons.
It begins with a woman who used to work for Paul and still supports him saying that he approved every newsletter before it went out:
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’s.
And then an anonymous source saying that Paul made a decision to include that material:
A person involved in Paul’s businesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid criticizing a former employer, said Paul and his associates decided in the late 1980s to try to increase sales by making the newsletters more provocative. They discussed adding controversial material, including racial statements, to help the business, the person said.
“It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government,’’ said the person, who supports Paul’s economic policies but is not backing him for president. “I’m not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman.’’ …
At the time, Paul’s investment letter was languishing. According to the person involved with his businesses, Paul and others hit upon a solution: to “morph” the content to capitalize on a growing fear among some on the political right about the nation’s changing demographics and threats to economic liberty.
And a prominent natural ally who seems to back up that charge:
Ed Crane, the longtime president of the libertarian Cato Institute, said he met Paul for lunch during this period and the two discussed direct-mail solicitations, which Paul was sending out to interest people in his newsletters. They agreed that “people who have extreme views” were more likely than others to respond.
Crane said Paul reported getting his best response when he used a mailing list from the now-defunct newspaper Spotlight, which was widely considered anti-Semitic and racist.
And another former associate by name:
Paul “had to walk a very fine line,’’ said Eric Dondero Rittberg, a former longtime Paul aide who says Paul allowed the controversial material in his newsletter as a way to make money. Dondero Rittberg said he witnessed Paul proofing, editing and signing off on his newsletters in the mid-1990s.
“The real big money came from some of that racially tinged stuff, but he also had to keep his libertarian supporters, and they weren’t at all comfortable with that,’’ he said.
The article also suggests that this strategy worked:
It is unclear precisely how much money Paul made from his newsletters, but during the years he was publishing them, he reduced his debts and substantially increased his net worth, according to his congressional and presidential disclosure reports.
In 1984, he reported debt of up to $765,000, most of which was gone by 1995, when he reported a net worth of up to $3.3 million. Last year, he reported a net worth of up to $5.2 million.
The last part is the most suspect part of the article. There may well be other reasons why Paul’s financial situation improved. It would certainly help to know how many subscribers there were to the newsletters over the years. If there’s a big bump in the number of subscribers after 1992 or so, that would be a stronger piece of evidence. It would take 10,000 subscribers to make a million dollars a year on the newsletter, only part of which would be profit. So it would take a lot more subscribers than I imagine he had to explain the jump in income. We just don’t have enough information, and probably can’t have it, in order to substantiate the last part.