Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sampley Ridiculous

I don't have anything to add, except that this is an excellent compendium of facts about Ted Sampley and his efforts to make money at the expense of the truth. Shadowy organizations and nefarious deeds seem to be his stock and trade. --Pale Rider

Ultimately, Sampley, Red Hawk, Inc. and Homecoming II were sued for copyright infringement by artist,Frederick Hart, and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Fund for using the image of The Three Brothers on tee shirts without paying royalties. A judgment was levied against Sampley in the amount of almost $360,000. There are slightly different accounts of the dissolution of Red Hawk and Homecoming II. According to Susan Katz Keating,a reporter at The Washington Times who had written extensively on Sampley and his activities, Sampley told her that he had liquidated all assets and rolled the money into another 501c3 to avoid having to pay any part of the judgment.

Red Hawk, Inc was the for-profit business owned by Ted Sampley that printed the tee shirts and sold them to Homecoming II. Originally, it was a construction company Sampley used to renovate properties. The history behind these two operations can be found in the original story with links to original sources. Ted Sampley gives his accounting of these two in this piece found in U.S. Veteran Archives, Sampley's own paper.

Red Hawk, Inc. as Sampley referred to his business in the above linked piece, was formed on May 8, 1984. It was incorporated under the name Red Hawk Corporation by Sampley. Not one annual report is showing on file for Red Hawk and administrative dissolution was dated June 11, 1993. A revenue suspension took effect January 14, 2004. A revenue suspension prevents Sampley from conducting business as Red Hawk Corporation, until he settles his tax issues with the state.

U.S. Veteran Dispatch started as a news sheet and was originally called U.S. Veteran News and Report. Sampley wrote, edited and published it himself. He has been highly critical of the government by his own claim and has used the Dispatch to voice his political views. The close association with Homecoming II is questionable since it is a violation of the tax code for a 501c3 to participate in political activity.

Sampley defended the political nature of the Dispatch at one point claiming that it was owned by Red Hawk,

However in Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry he says something a bit different.

The problem with these two conflicting accounts of how U.S. Veterans Dispatch receives its funding is that Red Hawk, Inc. only printed the tee shirts. It was the Last Firebase Vigil booth that sold the bracelets and other trinkets that Sampley claimed supported the printing of the U.S. Veteran Dispatch. The vigil booth was the sales arm of the 501c3 and no monies earned from sales at the booth should have been used to support a political organization or newspaper. It was also possibly a violation of the tax code for the politically slanted news sheet to be distributed at the vigil sight.

In 1992 Sampley testified in front of the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIAs where he had some of his first confrontations with Senators McCain and Kerry. Sampley's intentions and tactics are questioned and a much darker side of Ted Sampley is exposed.

The year 1992 appears to be a turning point for Ted Sampley. In his biographies Sampley says he testified before the Senate Select Committee on MIA-POWs in 1991. Most of the hearings were held in 1992. Senator John McCain and Senator John Kerry were involved in the hearings and both drew the ire of Ted Sampley.

The Senate Select Committee on POW-MIAs covered many issues. One of the topics was fundraising of the POW-MIA organizations. Several were singled out as using unscrupulous tactics and having dishonorable intentions. Sampley's Homecoming II was among those singled out.

After discussing tactics and intentions, they turned to look at amounts raised. This is in the record for Homecoming II:

Homecoming II reported to the IRS that it paid Ted Sampley, its founder and the publisher of U.S. Veteran News and Report, more than $300,000, ostensibly for t-shirts sold at Homecoming II's stand at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Sampley has fought all efforts by the National Park Service to stop merchandising the t-shirts and other merchandising on national park property, and at publication time was involved in a lawsuit over his right to use the picture of the memorial statue without paying the artist. Another lawsuit, against the National League of Families, also is pending. Despite promises of cooperation, Sampley refused to provide financial records to the Committee for his tax-exempt organization.

Some say it was the questioning of his intentions that angered Sampley. The Boston Globe reported on February 29, 1992 that Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) defended Senator McCain on the floor of the Senate after Sampley had accused McCain of working as an agent for either Hanoi or Moscow. The Washington Times reported that Sampley ran a composite picture of Kerry shooting an MIA with a caption claiming it was Kerry eliminating another man from his discrepancy list. On December 3, 1992 Kerry had Sampley removed from the hearings after he disrupted a speech from someone claiming that some POW-MIA groups were taking advantage of donors.

On December 12 of 1992 Sampley walked the halls of the Senate distributing his U.S. Veteran News and Report with the Manchurian Candidate article he wrote about John McCain. He went to McCain's office to deliver a copy and was confronted by a McCain staffer. Stories differ, but there was a scuffle and Sampley spent two days in jail and 180 days on probation. He was also ordered to stay away from McCain and his staff. The article mentioned above gives Sampley's version of events.It's interesting to note that Sampley attacks McCain and accuses him of colluding with the enemy while at the same time serving as an apologist for Bobby Garwood, a man actually court-martialed for colluding with the enemy in Vietnam. Sampley refuses to believe reports of McCain's resolve in the face of torture and months of solitary confinement. One last bit from the Phoenix New Time's piece on the behavior of the more radical POW-MIA activists like Sampley:
Stanley Kutler, professor of law at the University of Wisconsin and editor of The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, calls the behavior of these people "Sick. If it weren't so sick, it would be laughable. These are not nice people.

Once again, it is easiest to start the story of The Last Firebase Veterans Archive in the words of Ted Sampley.

On December 10, 1992, Judge Charles R. Richey, entered a judgement of $359,442.92 against Homecoming II Project, Red Hawk Inc. and Ted Sampley.

From a separate Sampley piece we find this:

In 1993 Homecoming II changed its name to the Last Firebase Veterans Archives Project.

Those are Sampley's own words on two different sites that he runs. However, he gave an interview for a book written by Susan Katz Keating. According to Ms. Keating, this is the accounting he gave her when she asked Sampley how he had been able to avoid following the court's order:

"I immediately put Red Hawk out of business," he said. "I sold everything they owned, and paid bills. I closed down Homecoming II. I heard that Scruggs was planning to levy the vigil site, so I gave it away. I put everything into another nonprofit group."

This particular version of the story, if true, lays bare another possible problem for Sampley. It is illegal to hide,liquidate, redistribute, assign, etc. assets in order to avoid satisfying a judgment. I have not investigated the laws on the books back in 1992/1993, so can't say with certainty that he was violating any laws at the time. Sampley tells other versions of the events as well. Here is one that is posted in the archives of the U.S. Veteran Dispatch.

...Regardless of the version of the story you choose to believe, The Last Firebase Veterans Archive was formed and still exists as a 501c3 charitable organization. According to the date/time stamps on the copies scanned for public view, Sampley has consistently been late filing the required 990 tax forms. In 2006 Sampley filed the 990s for 2003. These papers show an income in public money(contributions) of over $60,000.

Once a charitable organization receives $25,000 in public contributions it is required to become licensed to accept contributions in the state of North Carolina. To date, Sampley has not registered The Last Firebase Veteran's Archive in the state of North Carolina to my knowledge.

...Ted Sampley has put himself out in the community as the leader of a charitable organization. He runs a 501c3 and solicits money from the public and receives favorable tax treatment from the state and from the IRS. He owes it to the town of Kinston and to the taxpayers of this state to be a good steward of the money with which he's been entrusted.

Ted Sampley ramped up the rhetoric with the web site, to keep John McCain away from the GOP's presidential nomination in 2000. He resurrected his accusations that McCain was a KGB spy and "The Manchurian Candidate". McCain obviously took notice. Sampley might be a bit player in the overall picture, but the viciousness of his attacks is hard to ignore. From John McCain's book, Worth Fighting For:

Ted Sampley, a war veteran and veteran POW-MIA activist, who favored fatigues and feather earrings as his costume of choice, was quite a character. I took him for a charlatan within five minutes of meeting him. And nothing he has done since has caused me to change that opinion.


Sampley had recently married the daughter of an MIA, who sensibly divorced him a few years later, but his MIA in-law status gave him claim to membership privileges in the associations of POW-MIA families, which privileges he would use to make as much of a nuisance of himself at their conventions as he did during our hearings.


........ I realized that although he was detestable for his influence on families who wanted to grasp at anything, even his palpable nonsense, to nurture their hopes for recovering their loved ones, he was really little more than a buffoon, and that my self-respect wasn't threatened by his antics."

It's difficult to imagine what Sampley would have done if McCain had won the GOP nomination and had run for President against Al Gore. It's hard to imagine a man like Sampley, who will whip out his veteran status to save his own hide and illicit sympathy, attacking another veteran with the gusto and joy he seems to get from attacking John McCain and John Kerry. One thing is certain, these attacks are the only thing keeping Sampley in the larger public eye.

As the 2004 presidential election took shape, Sampley prepared for all-out war against John Kerry. He designed several web sites to help spread the viscious messages coming from the swiftboat veteran's group. Sampley told the Boston Globe that he was prepared to attack Kerry if he won the South Carolina primary.
"If Kerry wins the South Carolina primary on Tuesday, we'll be coming after him," said Sampley, a POW advocate who is organizing opponents to Kerry through a new website, Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, and who was rebuked by Kerry a decade ago for alleging that Senator John McCain was brainwashed by Communists while a prisoner in Hanoi.

The following is a listing of as many of the web sites as we could uncover.

Aside from the web sites, Sampley continued to heckle and disrupt events. He doctored photographs and spread them through right-wing radio(yes, even Rush Limbaugh described the pictures on his radio show), television and publications. One of the best articles that mentions Sampley's efforts against Kerry gives us this quote. It's by Joe Conason at Salon. Give it a read.

The Web site for Ted Sampley's Vietnam Veterans Against Kerry offers a pungent example of the right's rhetorical style: The Viet Cong's National Liberation Front flag is the background to a shot of a young, fatigue-clad Kerry. That picture is pure computer magic -- in other words, a fake.

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell slammed Sampley on Scarborough Country in a 2004 interveiw. Media Matters has the video. For those of us who have not had the pleasure of meeting Sampley, it won't improve your opinion of him.

Senator John McCain was so incensed by Sampley's antics that he released a stinging press release.

"I strongly caution reporters who may be contacted by or are interested in Mr. Ted Sampley and the various organizations he claims to represent, and his opinions on the subject of Senator Kerry, or any subject for that matter, to investigate thoroughly Mr. Sampley's background and history of spreading outrageous slander and other disreputable behavior before inadvertently lending him or his allegations any credibility."

"I am well familiar with Mr. Sampley, and I know him to be one of the most despicable people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. I consider him a fraud who preys on the hopes of family members of missing servicemen for his own profit. He is dishonorable, an enemy of the truth, and despite his claims, he does not speak for or represent the views of all but a few veterans. The many veterans I know would think it a disgrace to be considered a comrade or supporter of Ted Sampley."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

All of the information on Sampley was gleaned verbatim from posts made by Betsy Muse at the Website Blue NC. Original posts here, here, and here.

No comments: