Federal Politics

Published — March 2, 2000 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Party machines, lobbyists and special interests: Part two

Pat Buchanan: Opportunism Meets Hypocrisy

Introduction

Pat Buchanan’s switch to the Reform Party on Oct. 25, 1999, was a dramatic change in the fiery commentators political life. A lifelong conservative Republican who had served in both the Nixon and Reagan White Houses, Buchanan was a stalwart of the GOP’s social conservative movement and a legitimate, albeit fringe, contender for the Republican presidential nominations in both 1992 and 1996.

But his campaign for the GOP’s 2000 presidential nomination was not going well. The institutional momentum behind George W. Bush was siphoning precious campaign cash from all other candidates, and Buchanan faced significant challenges from Gary Bauer and Malcolm “Steve” Forbes for the conservative Christian vote, upon which his campaign traditionally relied. The outlook for the Republican nomination looked bleak.

At a press conference announcing his bid for the Reform Party’s nomination, Buchanan cited ideological reasons for leaving the Republican Party he had so long supported. “Our two parties have become nothing but two wings of the same bird of prey,” he said. “Neither fights today with conviction and courage to rescue God’s country from the cultural and moral pit into which she has fallen.”

Tactical, not ideological

In fact, Buchanan’s move to the Reform Party was much more tactical than ideological. The Reform Party nominee will inherit close to $13 million in federal matching funds, far more than Buchanan had managed to qualify for on his own . Given the lack of other serious candidates for the Reform nomination, Buchanan is virtually assured of the money, and will compete in the general election in November, the first time he will have made it past the spring’s primary season.

What’s more, Buchanan’s choice of campaign co-chairs for his Reform bid, especially that of an ultra-left-wing progressive, bucks his conservative ideology in favor of political expediency. For a candidate so well-known for refusing to give up reactionary views in favor of increased mainstream appeal, Buchanan’s 2000 Reform campaign has constructed a coalition of advisers that is politically opportunistic and ideologically hypocritical.

‘It’s a very, very tight circle’

In 1996, the Buchanan campaign had an official Advisory Committee that comprised a smattering of conservative corporate executives and right-wing pundits. The most notable member of the campaign was co-chairman Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, an organization that lobbies Congress to protect gun-ownership rights. In its 1996 report Under the Influence II, the Center for Public Integrity detailed Pratts links to the white-supremacist movement, and within hours of the Centers press conference releasing the report, Pratt was placed on indefinite leave from the Buchanan campaign.

This time around, the Buchanan campaign has no formal advisory committee, and has steered clear of connecting itself formally with the hard right. In fact, campaign officials acknowledge that they know of no advisers to Pat Buchanan, either formal or informal. The exception is Scott McConnell, a former columnist with the New York Post who was fired in 1997 for a column in which he characterized Puerto Ricans as “poor welfare recipients.” McConnell is a paid “senior policy adviser” to the campaign, although he describes his job duties as, “writing for the Web site, helping on research for speeches, and giving [his] two cents at meetings.”

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Buchanan has not sought out a legion of advisers. He has run for president on essentially the same ideas for the last eight years, and needs no help in defining his positions. His 2000 Reform campaign platform is based on five planks, four of which are familiar Buchanan positions: absolute opposition to abortion, protectionist trade policy, decreased U.S. military involvement abroad, and beefed-up immigration controls. The fifth plank, government and campaign-finance reform, is a more recent addition to Buchanan’s crusade, and reflects his need to appeal to the Reform Party’s founding principles.

In addition, running as a Reform Party candidate in a mainstream general election means that Buchanan will have to court not only his usual base of religious conservatives, but also more mainstream conservatives. This means avoiding linking himself too heavily with the hard right, as he did in 1996. One source close to the campaign told the Center that running a campaign in the national election, as opposed to simply in a Republican primary, was “a different environment,” and that, “you wouldn’t talk to the same kind of people.” Unfortunately, Buchanan has built his reputation around being the most outspoken and uncompromising of conservatives, so finding more mainstream advisers at this point in his career is a difficult task.

Many longtime Buchanan supporters are no longer advising the candidate, in part because of his decision to leave the GOP. Lyn Nofziger, a former Reagan administration official who has supported and advised Buchanan throughout his career, left the campaign for that of Malcom “Steve” Forbes after Buchanan moved to the Reform Party.

Roger Milliken, the owner of the nation’s largest privately held textile company and a 1996 adviser to Buchanan, said through a spokeswoman that he is only supporting Buchanan in 2000, not advising him. In addition, 1996 adviser Samuel Francis, a former editorial writer for The Washington Times (fired for racially inflammatory columns ), told the Center he has “no connection with the Buchanan campaign whatsoever.”

Former Buchanan press director Bob Adams, the only staffer to leave the campaign when the candidate switched to the Reform Party, describes the campaign as, “a very, very tight circle.” Beyond Buchanan’s wife, Shelley, Adams told the Center the only other “adviser” he could identify was Buchanan’s cat, The Gipper, “who has a seat at virtually every meeting.” Sources close to the Buchanan Reform campaign admit that beyond an internal policy working group comprising campaign staff, no one at the campaign knows who the candidate talks to on his own time.

With no traditional set of advisers shaping his presidential run in 2000, Buchanan has come to rely on guidance from his four campaign co-chairs. But a careful examination of those at the top of the Buchanan Reform campaign reveals a partnership of political opportunity, not conservative ideology.

A four-headed hydra

Four co-chairs head the Buchanan Reform campaign. Foremost is Angela “Bay” Buchanan, the candidate’s sister and longtime adviser. Pat Choate, vice presidential running mate of Ross Perot in 1996 and Reform Party founder, is the other co-chair who has regular access to Pat Buchanan. Less involved in the day-to-day operations are Rabbi Aryeh Spero of Ohio, and

Dr. Lenora Fulani of New York, who in 1988 became the first black woman ever to make it onto all 50 states’ presidential ballots.

The loyal sister

Acknowledged universally as Pat Buchanan’s true confidante and most loyal supporter, Bay Buchanan directed her brother’s 1992 and 1996 campaigns, and was treasurer of the United States under President Reagan. After her brother’s first presidential campaign in 1992, Bay Buchanan converted the campaign’s highly successful direct-mailing list operation into a full-fledged nonprofit organization, The American Cause (TAC), and headquartered it in the 1992 campaign’s office.

While Buchanan has made integrity a central theme of his 2000 presidential bid, his past campaigns don’t always measure up to that standard. As the Center’s book The Buying of the President 2000 details, brother and sister Buchanan found in TAC a convenient way to keep Pat Buchanan’s name in front of conservative voters in between elections. Just as important, TAC served as a slick device to raise large amounts of unregulated cash for Buchanan’s successive presidential bids outside of the $1,000 per contributor limit. When it was time to begin her brother’s 1996 and 2000 runs, Bay Buchanan simply changed the signs in TAC’s offices to “Buchanan for President,” and converted TAC’s staff to official campaign workers.

She also managed to make money from the campaign. In 1996, Bay Buchanan set up a media buying company called WTS, named after her sons, William, Tommy and Stuart. The Buchanan campaign bought media time from WTS, and Bay reaped an 8% commission on all WTS sales, estimated at close to $4 million. The company had no other clients than Buchanan’s 1996 campaign, and its address was that of Bay’s close friend and former campaign office manager, Carolyn Melby. For 2000, Bay changed the name of WTS to “Carmel Consultants,” a derivative of Carolyn Melby.

The detached chairman

Rabbi Aryeh Spero told the Center he has known Pat Buchanan for 12 years, and was attracted to him because of Buchanan’s “trailblazer” attitude. An avid Buchanan reader who gave up his pulpit seven years ago to focus on writing, Spero first came into contact with Buchanan after writing the columnist a letter. Buchanan responded, and the correspondence blossomed into a relationship, including a meeting with Buchanan in Washington, D.C. By 1994, Spero was actively advising Buchanan.

Calling Buchanan “a serious man with serious ideas,” Spero agrees with Buchanan’s positions on affirmative action (against it) and U.S. military entanglements abroad. Spero founded the now-defunct conservative think tank National Coalition of Black and Jewish Americans in 1995. Among the “governors” of the think-tank were former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp, presidential candidate Alan Keyes, and former U.S. arms control director Kenneth Adelman. Spero cites himself as the first rabbi to endorse Reagan in 1979, and although he didn’t know Reagan personally, he “knew the people around him.” He acknowledges still being politically connected, but declined to specify which politicians he currently advises or speaks with.

A strong supporter of a proposed constitutional amendment that would permit school prayer, Spero testified before a 1997 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution. In his prepared statement, Spero characterized teachers’ and bureaucrats’ fears of infringing on the separation of church and state as the “separation of state from common sense.” In a 1995 column for The Washington Times, Spero attacked the notion of the welfare state as “socialism,” and called for “workfare in place of welfare.”

Spero’s specific role in the Buchanan campaign is unclear, even to him. The Buchanan ’96 campaign also included a rabbi as co-chair, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, but Spero “doesn’t think he’s active this time around.” Spero is not a full-time campaigner and considers himself a “personal and political friend, “acting primarily as a sounding board when called on by the campaign. One possible explanation for the inclusion of rabbis in Buchanan’s campaigns is the need to try to dispel a belief that Buchanan is an anti-Semite. Among other widely publicized incidents, he once accused former Ku Klux Klan leader turned politician David Duke of stealing from him, and suggested he might “sue that dude for intellectual property theft.”

What is most remarkable about Spero’s role is how far from the inner workings of the campaign this co-chairman is. While the chairs of other campaigns are often intimately involved with strategy and day-to-day operations, Spero has been on the campaign trail only a couple of times with Buchanan and is not in regular contact with the campaign. While he has spoken with Pat Choate on the phone, he told the Center he doesn’t know fellow co-chair Lenora Fulani, and has no “actual relationship with her.” When asked about advisers to the campaign, he gave a one-word answer: “Bay.”

While Bay Buchanan is the perennial management fixture in Buchanan campaigns, and Spero the part-time adviser turned token figurehead, the real political players in Buchanan’s 2000 Reform crusade are Pat Choate and Lenora Fulani. The explanation for their presence atop the Buchanan campaign is simple: to ensure that Pat Buchanan wins the Reform Party presidential nomination. Putting aside all pretenses of agreeing ideologically, Choate and Fulani have decided that Buchanan as the Reform Party candidate represents their best shot for furthering their two very different goals. For Choate, it is maximum impact and exposure for the Reform Party. For Fulani, it is the takeover of the Reform Party itself.

An economic nationalist

Pat Choate began his political career as a popular economic policy adviser to Capitol Hill politicians in the 1980s. Born in the tiny Texas town of Maypearl, Choate earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Oklahoma and landed his first job with the state of Oklahoma, where he used his Ph.D. thesis as the basis for its economic development plan. He later served as commissioner of economic development in Tennessee and then joined the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration. After stints as regional administrator for the Appalachian and Southern areas, he came to the agency’s Washington headquarters in 1975 as director of economic research.

After a short stay at the Office of Management and Budget during the Carter administration, Choate eventually took a job with the industrial conglomerate TRW, Inc., and became vice president of policy analysis. There, he emerged as a highly sought-after industry consultant to Washington policy-makers on both sides of the aisle, including the Democratic Leadership Council, former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, the Republican House Wednesday Group, and a variety of congressional leaders.

During the 1980s, Choate published two books that made splashes on the economic policy scene. The first, America in Ruins, examined the decline in American infrastructure, while the second, The High-Flex Society, helped sparked a late-1980s debate over America’s industrial competitiveness. But his third publication in 1990 brought intense scrutiny and alienated many of his followers.

That year, he was fired from TRW for his latest book, Agents of Influence, which put forth the thesis that America’s economic policy was being influenced by the Japanese through their paid foreign agents in the Washington political establishment. Choate named names, and he was summarily dismissed from TRW, which at the time did over $400 million in business with Japan. The book was widely criticized by mainstream pundits for being too conspiratorial and circumstantial, criticism that scarred Choate for years after.

Although Agents of Influence cost Choate his $150,000-a-year job, it did have the effect of placing him on the radar screen of such economic nationalists as Ross Perot, and later, Pat Buchanan. By the time Perot ran as an independent for president in 1992, Choate was a close adviser to the candidate. In 1993, the two co-wrote Save Your Job, Save Our Country: Why NAFTA Must Be Stopped — Now!, and split the royalties.

When Perot ran for president in 1996 under his newly created Reform Party, Choate was chosen as his vice presidential candidate. At the same time, he began moving toward Pat Buchanan’s more radical sphere of influence, acting as an adviser to Buchanan during the 1996 primary season. In the early 1990s, Choate had also been an adviser to Buchanan backer and economic protectionist Roger Milliken.

Choate was quoted during the 1996 election as saying, “I really like Pat’s writing and what he stands for . . . I don’t agree with Pat Buchanan on the abortion issue, but other than that, most of his message rings true.” Choate’s economics seemed to blend well with both Perot’s and Buchanan’s populist colorings. Conventional wisdom held that Choate might help shape Perot’s views so as to attract the protectionist wing of Republican voters that Buchanan typically brought in. He told one reporter at the time, “I hope Buchanan’s people are saying ‘Go, Pat. Go,’” applying the Buchanan chant to himself.

Now, in 2000, Choate is squarely behind Buchanan as the Reform presidential nominee. With Perot distancing himself from the party nomination, Buchanan seems to have filled the void as the candidate who most appeals to Choate’s sense of economic nationalism. Choate told the Center that he began lobbying Buchanan to leave the GOP for the Reform Party as early as 1996, and that while he disagrees with Buchanan’s stance on abortion, Buchanan has accepted the Reform Party platform to his satisfaction.

Choate also shares some of Buchanan’s more controversial viewpoints on foreign policy. Back in 1996, Choate was quoted as saying, “Our principal geopolitical threat is going to be the Chinese.” He compared U.S. diplomacy to the overly gentle British treatment of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and criticized the Clinton administration for failing to act decisively in the face of Beijing’s missile exports and the buildup of China’s standing army. This anti-Chinese rhetoric fits well with Buchanan’s railing against the “Chinese Communists,” who, with Buchanan in the Oval Office, might “have sold [their] last pair of chopsticks in any mall in the United States of America.”

Choate’s support of Buchanan is essential to Buchanan’s Reform Party bid. With a Reform Party co-founder such as Choate in his corner, Buchanan will be able to move the party machinery to his advantage in seeking the nomination. But Choate’s support alone is not enough to lock up the nomination, and that helps explain why both Choate and Buchanan have decided to chuck their shared ideology in favor of a political partnership with Lenora Fulani.

Who would have thought?

“If Nixon could go to China, Buchanan can go to Fulani,” a colleague of Dr. Lenora Fulani’s once commented. It’s an ironic analogy; Buchanan being compared with his great mentor, except that this time, rather than siding with an ideological opposite to defeat communism and save the free world, the journey is meant to further a single political career. If there were one candidate who no one would have thought could side with a pro-gay, minority, female Marxist, it was Pat Buchanan.

Fulani, the fourth co-chair of Pat Buchanan’s Reform Party campaign, is the most enigmatic and bizarre leader of the “Buchanan Brigade.” Fulani’s political past is smattered with names and incidents that seem to cut against everything the GOP Buchanan used to stand for: social-group therapy based on Soviet psychology, left-wing radical Lyndon LaRouche, and New York community activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, just to name a few.

What happened to the old Pat Buchanan? The man who said women were “less equipped psychologically,” that American Christian society was “superior to the others,” that “homosexual rights” were “not the kind of change America needs,” and the man who was one of “Hoover’s conduits to the American people” in helping to smear Martin Luther King, Jr.? Has Buchanan truly changed, or has he simply backed off his traditional rhetoric to suit his new partners in the Reform Party?

To understand how Fulani and Buchanan can coexist in the same campaign, one has to trace the history of Fulani’s involvement with the Reform Party and how she managed to become a dominant figure in that movement. If Fulani were not a major player in Reform Party politics, it is virtually inconceivable that Buchanan (or as the case was, Pat Choate) would have ever tapped her to head the campaign. Presidential campaigns and party politics make strange bedfellows.

The story of Lenora Fulani and her rise to Reform Party prominence starts not with her, but with her mentor, “theoretician and tactician,” Fred Newman. Newman was a doctoral student and, later, a professor in philosophy before he quit teaching in 1969 to start the Center for Change, a collection of communal experiments including a school, dental clinic, newspaper, and therapy center in New York City. The therapy at the heart of Newman’s experiment was a mixture of radical left-wing philosophies based on Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s theories.

Problem was society

Essentially, Newman identified his patient’s problems as society, rather than something internal to themselves. Only through group therapy could the patient become a “revolutionary” and overthrow the “bourgeois ego” that kept him from being happy. The catch was that Newman proclaimed that patients could achieve full liberation only through group political activity, action that was aimed at promoting his own interests. The so-called therapy had the effect of separating the patient from his or her past, then making the patient totally reliant on the group leader, in this case, Newman.

In 1974 Newman formally joined the Center for Change with Lyndon LaRouche’s National Caucus of Labor Committees. LaRouche was a radical and notoriously violent Marxist who had been expelled from Students for a Democratic Society in 1969. Apparently undeterred by LaRouche’s tactics, Newman joined forces with LaRouche just a few months after LaRouche’s notorious “Operation Mop-op” of 1973, in which the National Caucus of Labor Committees engaged in the physical intimidation and assault of other American socialist and communist parties.

By the summer of 1974, however, Newman’s group broke from the National Caucus of Labor Committees, mainly because the two egos could not coexist in the same movement. Newman founded the International Worker’s Party. Newman proclaimed that the IWP had “now become the vanguard party of the working class . . . the organization of the vanguard party is, as Marx makes clear, the organization of the class.”

Newman continued to set up clinics throughout New York City, and it was at one of these in 1979 that he met Lenora Fulani, a recently separated graduate student. In her autobiography, Fulani writes that, “Fred was teaching me who I was and who I could be.” Newman, for his part, said, “She is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life.”

By 1979, Newman abolished the International Worker’s Party in favor of more mainstream appeal, setting up the New Alliance Party, which took on the trappings of a progressive party and campaigned for affirmative action and universal health care. The therapy remained the same, however. New Alliance Party members were told that their “recovery” was contingent upon working exhausting hours for the party. By 1984, the New Alliance Party was on the ballot in 33 states with its own presidential candidate.

But all was not as it seemed. As David Grann recently reported in the New Republic magazine, the New Alliance Party was essentially acting as a front for the International Worker’s Party, sucking in new New Alliance Party members to its revolutionary organization. Secret IWP “cells” were set up, and weapons training was held on a farm in Pennsylvania. In 1987, Fulani led a New Alliance Party delegation to Tripoli, Libya, to protest the U.S. bombing there. By March 1988, the FBI declared that “members of the New Alliance Party should be considered armed and dangerous as they are known to possess weapons.”

Strong-arm tactics

The New Alliance Party continued to grow, often using strong-arm tactics to infiltrate other fringe political organizations. In one well-documented case involving the New Jewish Agenda, a small leftist organization, New Alliance Party activists did everything from invite NJA members out on dates to overrun NJA meetings and conventions. When not taking over organizations, the New Alliance Party mimicked them, such as setting up the Rainbow Alliance and the Rainbow Lobby, a take-off of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition.

In 1988, the New Alliance Party managed to put Fulani on all 50 states’ presidential ballots, a first for both a woman and an African American. In 1992, Fulani ran again and raised more federal matching funds than Jerry Brown or Paul Tsongas, both Democratic presidential candidates that year. (As Bruce Shapiro reported in The Nation magazine back in 1992, Fulani encouraged New Alliance Party members to give to her campaign, saying, “The more you give, the more you grow … It feels very, very good.”).

But her fund-raising prowess was called into question by the Federal Election Commission, which investigated the campaign’s practice of paying other New Alliance Party-run organizations for services rendered. A member of Fulani’s campaign claimed that the supposed New Alliance Party contractors existed only on paper and that Newman had embezzled the campaign funds for his personal use. The FEC eventually concluded that more than $73,000 of federal matching funds could not be accounted for, but by that time, 1992, the New Alliance Party had ceased to exist as a formal organization.

What the New Alliance Party had become, however, was a founding pillar of Ross Perot’s Reform Party. The melding of the New Alliance Party into the Reform Party began in 1992, when Fulani’s New Alliance Party ballot experts helped Perot achieve 50-state ballot access. At the 1994 inaugural convention of the Patriot Party (the precursor to the Reform Party), Micah Sifry reported in The Nation that almost half of the delegates were ex-New Alliance Party members, and the party leadership was stacked with Fulani’s followers. By 1996, former New Alliance Party members within the Reform Party were working with Russ Verney, Perot’s campaign manager, mobilizing Fulani’s and Newman’s network to put Perot on state ballots. After the election in 1996, Verney was quoted as saying, “The job couldn’t have been done without them [the New Alliance Party members].”

Fulani’s partnership with Pat Buchanan, in retrospect, seems almost inevitable. As mentioned, Choate had been lobbying Buchanan to move to the Reform Party since 1996. Perot’s political career had run its course, Choate’s economics appealed to Buchanan, and Buchanan was having little success trying to win the GOP nomination. The Reform Party’s commitment to government and campaign finance reform seemed to click with Buchanan’s new-found disgust with the two-party system.

But just as important was that, by 1999, Fulani and Newman controlled one-third of the Reform Party’s delegates and were veteran experts in getting independent candidates (like Buchanan) on state ballots. At the party convention in 1998, Fulani garnered 45% of the vote for the party’s vice-chair, while an ex-New Alliance Party member won the race for national secretary. Pat Choate told the Center for Public Integrity that the ex-New Alliance Party faction led by Newman and Fulani now controls as many Reform delegates as either Ross Perot or the recently added ex-GOP Buchanan supporters. (Before Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura left the party, his followers also constituted a major force). At the convention, the party elected Jack Gargan, a Ventura ally, as chairman, but Gargan’s 65% delegate support came, in Fulani’s own words, “at my urging.” Gargan has since left the post. Should the Reform nomination come to a vote, the Buchanan-Fulani-Choate coalition will control nearly all of the delegates, and should not have a problem handing the nomination to Buchanan.

At the press conference this past November announcing Buchanan’s selection of Fulani as co-chair of his campaign, the common theme was one of government reform and democracy. Both Fulani and Buchanan were adamant about setting aside criticism that Buchanan could not be a “big tent” candidate within the Reform Party. “We’re going to integrate that peasant army of his [Buchanan’s]. We’re going to bring black folks and Latino folks and gay folks and liberal folks into that army,” Fulani promised. “When it came time to fight for democracy, [Americans] have always put those differences aside.”

Fulani’s commitment to fighting “the war for our own democratic process” against Buchanan’s “two wings of the same bird of prey” may ring a little hollow to some. In the past, Fulani has not hesitated from using traditional party politics for her own personal gain. In 1995, Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), the powerful leader of New York’s congressional delegation, wrote a letter on congressional stationery urging the early release of Fulani’s son, Amani, from prison. Amani Fulani was serving jail time for criminal possession of a weapon; a witness told police that he and another man had fired guns into a crowd gathered on a street corner on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Although Rangel’s request was denied, 3-0, by the city’s Conditional Release Commission, the event illustrated the clout that Fulani and her New Alliance Party followers could muster in New York City, a town where left-wing parties play a significant role in local politics.

Fulani and Buchanan have insisted that their campaign is based on the common ground of government reform, and that the issue is enough to unite them and their diverse followers. Yet they struggle to mask their all-too-apparent differences. While Buchanan rails against “Communist China’s “unfair trade practices,” Fulani recently wrote that,” . . . the problem isn’t what China is up to. They’re doing what any nation – communist or capitalist – must do to gain advantage in the highly competitive global marketplace.”

In addition, until Buchanan announced his switch to the Reform Party, Fulani praised Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, Buchanan’s most outspoken and powerful critic in the Reform Party until he left the party in February 2000. Since becoming disillusioned with Jesse Jackson years ago as the great hope for the independent movement, Fulani recently wrote that her “search for an independent Jesse concludes,” after bestowing upon Ventura the title of “the Jesse for the 21st Century.” But, when Ventura made it clear that he did not intend to run for the Reform nomination, Fulani stopped writing about Ventura and began writing about Buchanan as the savior of the independent movement. If “21st Century Jesse” wasn’t going to be her ticket to the national political scene, than Pat Buchanan would have to do.

Long history

Beyond Rangel and Ventura, Fulani has a long history of relationships with political characters who, until recently, seemed to be the antithesis of Pat Buchanan. First, she has a long history with black activist the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York. Sharpton leads the National Action Network in New York City, an organization that is “committed to the task of the liberation for all oppressed peoples,” and works to promote the rights of minorities — an organization that is not exactly the bread and butter of traditional Pat Buchanan politics.

Fulani’s link to Sharpton goes back to the New Alliance Party. A colorful man with a history of sparking contentious debate in New York, Sharpton made his name and image out of his highly publicized marches, often protesting police brutality. His marches required manpower. The group that supplied the necessary bodies was often the New Alliance Party. In 1991, The New York Times quoted Fred Newman as saying that the New Alliance Party provided 30 to 50 percent of Mr. Sharpton’s “troops.” The Times also reported that Castillo International, Newman’s New Alliance Party-operated media company, had booked speaking engagements for Sharpton, and that Newman made Sharpton a 50 percent partner in his teen-age talent competition company.

Sharpton said he was attracted to the New Alliance Party because of its emphasis on minority empowerment and because of Fulani herself. She had helped Sharpton tone down his often offensive language. Instead of calling homosexuals “faggots,” he toned back and referred to them as “people without backbones.”

In November when Fulani was introduced as campaign co-chair, Fulani promised that she was going “to take [Buchanan] to speak at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network . . . and it won’t have to be a secret.” Fulani told the Center that “the overall goal is to bring Buchanan into the Black community and to give the Black community the opportunity to hear Buchanan articulate his vision, particularly with respect to economic and political reform issues.”

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