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Exactly two months ago, on August 31, the Center for Public Integrity made the first in a series of unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Howard Rich, a libertarian political activist who lives and works in New York City.

At 3:41 p.m. that Thursday, the Center sent an e-mailed interview request to Rich, the enigmatic point man for this year’s regulatory takings initiatives in the West. The request went to an e-mail address that had been provided to the Center by the communications director of Americans for Limited Government, a tax-exempt organization that Rich chairs. There was no response.

Another request went to Rich by e-mail on September 5, and a letter was mailed on the same day to Rich’s Manhattan address. Again, there was no response.

Finally, on October 5, the Center e-mailed Rich the following list of questions:

  1. How much money have you, and groups you lead, put into eminent domain/regulatory takings initiatives this year? Please provide totals by state. Do you (or the organizations you head) plan to donate more between now and the election?
  2. Why do you support these initiatives?
  3. Is all of this money your own, or have others contributed through you and your organizations? If the latter is true, who are some of the major donors? How much of your own money would you estimate you have donated?
  4. Can provide us with simple biographical information (where you were born, schooling, companies you lead or led, etc.) or tell us where to find it?
  5. Did you learn any lessons from your efforts on term limits in the 1990s that you are applying to this year’s ballot measures?
  6. Attempts to get regulatory takings measures on the November ballot failed in a number of states (Nevada, Missouri, Oklahoma, and possibly Montana). Do you plan to provide similar financial support in future elections to get such initiatives on the ballot in those and other states?
  7. The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that you say your network is funded by thousands of individual donors from across the country. [The story goes on to say:] “But that’s impossible to prove without disclosing the donor lists, something Rich refuses to do. Critics say Rich is trying to create the illusion of grass-roots support.” Please comment.

In three successive e-mails — one on October 23 and two on October 30 — the Center asked Rich questions in connection with specific stories being prepared for publication on this Web site.

As of October 31, Rich – who apparently has communicated with some news organizations via e-mail in recent weeks – had not responded to any of the inquiries.

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A journalist since 1978, Jim Morris has won more than 80 awards for his work, including the George Polk...