Council of State Governments” 1995 Steering committee meeting — Indian River Plantation, Sewell Point, Florida, Friday, April 21st.
The following interview was conducted by the CDR with a networker whose name we’ll not divulge for matters of personal privacy.. we’ll call him John. John is a long-time networker with CDR; a personal friend of many of us and has established his credibility.
The interview speaks for itself. His attendance at the meeting was not planned, nor was there intention on his part to deceive. He felt his chances of getting in were below zero, and yet we agreed that since many miracles have occurred – maybe this door would open. It did! He was invited in and escorted to his seat by a CSG official.
Some points to consider: This is a meeting of state elected officials who take an oath to defend and protect the Constitution, thus representing the sovereign people who elected them. Many legislators, upon receiving the evidence of the COS agenda to hold a Con-Con oppose the resolution and have helped to defeat it in their state. Some have called their colleagues in other states, and Colorado Senator Duke has traveled to other states to lobby against it.
Maybe all of the legislators at the meeting are not aware of the plan. However, people in nearly every state have experienced that legislators who are connected with the Council of State Governments are arrogant, aloof, deceitful and unwilling to even consider information offered by their constituents. The CSG is NOT an organization created by state elected officials. The CSG is an International Non-Governmental Organization.
As reported in the Montgomery County Observer, 2-15-95… “Rockefeller money from the tax-exempt Spelman Fund put CSG on is feet in 1930… Later financial boosters included the tax-exempt Carnegie Corporation. Today, CSG is on the verge of remaking all fifty state legislatures.”… and today, our tax dollars fund the CSG in a big way.
The grass-roots effort is presently winning this COS battle. However, it appears they intend to pull out all stops to get what they want. As it stands today, only 14 states have passed the COS Resolution. Twelve states have killed it let it die at sessions end and another 5 have it tabled. The resolution isn’t dead until it’s voted down, so we can’t go to sleep on this. There are individuals, corporate heads and organizations who want our Constitution dismantled. Now is the time for grass-roots America to turn up the heat and pump up the volume. The tragic act of terrorism in Oklahoma has captured our hearts and minds, and yet we cannot let it divert us from this cause. Read the following transcribed interview carefully. Let your legislators see it so they can see what is going on. May God bless our work and may He shed His Grace on America.
NOTE: Massachusetts intends to use “sleight of hand”, no-hearing, voice vote to get the COS Res passed through quickly. Florida Rep. Will Logan “twisted arms, stuck his neck out, and promised CSG memberships to certain Florida Reps to get the res passed by a slim vote of 60 to 55 on Thursday. Big money soon to be pumped into promoting CSG agenda – and specifically note the CSG call for support from the tax exempt foundations.
JOHN: I was visiting friends in Florida and heard about the CSG Steering Committee meeting being held right there. I really didn’t think I’d be able to get in, but I decided to try anyway. I stood outside the meeting room talking to a guy from CSG for about 10 or 15 minutes. We hit it off pretty well, and I told him I’d really like to be able to go in and asked him if he thought it would be ok. At first he said no, then said, “Well… ok… come with me. Just sit down and don’t say anything.” I came into the meeting about 15 minutes after it had already started.
CDR: Ok. And you were invited in by the public relations person of CSG?
JOHN: He said he used to be a former PR guy of CSG and he has some other function right now.
CDR: And you don’t remember his name?
JOHN: No, I’m sorry. The first thing I heard when I walked into the room was the mention of Charlie Duke. What they had been doing, it seems, was reviewing the opposition. I don’t know whether other groups were included… as I said I was invited in after it started. They mentioned three groups specifically…. one was Charlie Duke and his “army”, one was the JB Society and in a kind of off-hand remark, Eagle Forum was mentioned. However the two main groups of opposition mentioned were Charlie Duke and his group and the Birch Society.
The person who was talking was Leavitt. I was taken around the table and seated approximately five feet behind Governor Leavitt and Governor Nelson. They were sitting side-by side. There were tables about six-feet wide, arranged in a rectangular shape, about 40 feet long and about 15 feet across. The people who were seated behind the tables seemed to be corporate lobbyists… I know for a fact three oil companies were represented there… Chevron, Texaco and Mobile. There were also other big corporations and CSG members.
CDR: Where was the meeting held?
JOHN: It’s a place called Indian River Plantation. Mobile Oil owns it. It’s on a sort of an island. I had to drive over five causeways to get to it. The meeting was on the second floor and it looked like there were two separate Council of State Government meetings going on. The marquee – at the top – said, “C.S.G. ANNUAL STEERING COMMITTEE SPRING CONFERENCE” – or close to that. Then underneath it said “CONFERENCE OF STATES”, and under that it said “Environmental Task Force”. The Environmental meeting was in a room around the corner from the COS meeting. That meeting room was called, I think, Stewart Hall.
The first thing I heard was that (paraphrase) “[Sen.] Charlie Duke is not a stupid man, he’s a man with a genius IQ and he has his “army” all over the country. These people are not stupid people and they’re well financed. They’ve out-organized us, they’ve out-faxed us, they use talk radio, they use Internet and they have a lot more money than we have spent.” He went on to say they have the ability to dump 50 to 100 faxes a day on a legislator’s desk. He labeled us a “culture of its own representing 1 to 2% of the population”. Then he went into the Birch Society, after Charlie Duke… said basically the same things and then he mentioned the Eagle Forum, sort of as an after thought. Whether any other groups were mentioned I don’t know. But he made it clear that Charlie Duke was the point man for this whole opposition.
The next thing they talked about – on the front cover of their meeting agenda – they wanted to discuss the progress they’ve made since their March meeting. This is under the heading of “Summary of COS Status”. They had three items – Progress Since March Meeting. Discussion of Target States. Identification of Obstacles and Opportunities. They seemed to spend more time on identification of the obstacles. They didn’t mention the specific target states by name. As far as their progress they also attached an update as of April 14th, (14 states have passed the COS Resolution).
They spent more time discussing the opposition… how we’ve outworked them, how we’ve out-smarted them, how we’ve out-financed them. Then they started talking about some of the options from which they would choose their strategy. Unfortunately, I got kicked out before they decided on which options they would go for. So we can only guess at this point what they’re going to do.
Here are the options. Stan Aronoff – and this is the one that frightens me…
CDR: From Ohio, he’s the Senate President from Ohio. Maybe that’s why grass-roots in Ohio have had to work so hard to get the Con-Con Resolution stopped and why the COS slipped through the state so fast. Wasn’t that one of the state legislatures that passed it through without hearings and by voice vote?
JOHN: I think so. Aronoff said the following… (p-phrase) “We should use the foundations and corporate sponsorship” to push their agenda, because with all the talk about the opposition having good financing – in fact Leavitt said, “these people don’t think anything about dropping a $10 or $15 thousand dollar check into this effort at the drop of a hat”…. that’s what he said and that is so ludicrous – we’re all sitting here working with our purse-string budgets. My perception of this is, that Leavitt, Nelson, Aronoff. ..maybe even Jeff Wells (Colorado) – and Dan Sprague – those five appear to be aware of the agenda and they’re selling this false program to the rest of the people in the room. In other words, in my opinion, these other people are not aware that the plan is a Con-Con and they really truly believe they’re doing the right thing for America by redressing the balance in the federal system. And remember – that’s only my opinion.
Leavitt tells them we’ve got unlimited funding and they don’t know we’re all spending our life savings and working on a shoe-string. Then there was a guy with a southern accent – he was the South-East Regional Director or something like that – he seemed to have the most to say.
CDR: That was probably Bobby Hunter of North Carolina.
JOHN: I don’t know – southern accent, brown hair, glasses, medium build, not too tall… in fact Leavitt kept saying how they were being out-worked and beaten to the punch by the opposition and maybe we should take another tact and eliminate the call for empowered delegates and hold an informal conference and the south-eastern CSG guy stands up and says (pphrase) “Look, I don’t see how this opposition is so strong down in my area, but the impetus on the side of legislators to pass it is also low, too.” And he suggested that they contact Republican National Committee Chairman, Hailey Barber (sp?) and the Democratic National Chairman, Christopher Dodd and get them involved in promoting the COS.
After this fellow spoke, that seemed to turn the mood around in the whole room, so following him were three other guys – the north-eastern chieftain, I don’t know what his name is – also repeated the same type of story, so it lifted the morale of the rest of the people in the room. So then after that it was more-or-less “let’s go get ’em”. Then they started going over their options.
Amongst those options, as I said… first of all, Jeff Wells all of a sudden stood up and said (pphrase) “We only have 14 states, I think we should hold the COS anyway. Declare a victory, and hold the Conference, and if we hold the Conference, then the rest of the states will fall in line”. And there seemed to be some portions of the room that agreed with him.
Stan Aronoff – this is the scary part and the part they’re… I think they’re going to do. If you look at Leavitt’s recent statements – he keeps saying (pphr) “We haven’t gotten our message across. We’re going to make an all-out push to educate legislators” – and the way they’re probably going to do this is use the global corporations and the tax exempt foundations.
CDR: Like the Ford and Rockefeller foundation which gave us (funded) the Proposed Constitution for the NewStates of America? And fund the CSG and the ACIR? and the CCS?
JOHN: Yeah, and they’re making it appear like the CSG is taking the whole effort on their backs – without the help of ALEC, the NCSL, the NGA, etc. and now it’s time to call on those other groups to get them to support the CSG. I can’t remember if it was Leavitt or somebody else – he said our only mission in life is to stop the Conference of States. That we have nothing else better to do. That we spend our entire lives…
CDR: Did he actually say we spend our entire lives with nothing better to do?
JOHN: Yes. We don’t do anything else. The legislators haven’t had the time, in all fairness, to devote to the COS that they should. He said we have to look at the individual legislator. He’s so busy, and all of a sudden he gets pounded by 300 people with faxes and phone calls and he’s sitting there saying to himself, “What’s in this for me if I vote for this? I don’t want to face the wrath of the public”.
In other words the CSG hasn’t provided the legislators with enough incentive or education. That’s where the idea came from to not only promote the educational effort to corporations and foundations, but to get the support of ALEC and NCSL, etc. and Leavitt said (pphr) “If we’re going to take this tact, if we’re going to choose this option – we’ll need ‘millions and millions of dollars’. That’s an exact quote, “millions and millions of dollars”.
Dan Sprague, now – the Executive Director of the CSG – he came up with two major options and a third ‘hybrid’ of the first two. These two are: Extend the time table to get the 26 states. To use the media more to promote their agenda. To encourage state-by-state visits by people like Nelson, Leavitt, etc., or other dignitaries – and to consider expanding the Steering Committee.
Option B was to go the informal route. Dropping the resolutions for participation… in other words… empowered delegates. If they would do that, Leavitt questioned whether they would be able to get the Governors and other state leaders to come to the COS, because he thought this would signal defeat – and he said it risks states not sending top level delegations because they would have lost their sense of urgency.
Now, Sprague’s hybrid solution was – and I couldn’t believe this – was to count as a state passing it those who only passed it in one chamber. In other words, bring the reps in as delegates from the states which have only passed it in one house. They would be counted as victories. Like Jeff Wells said, to declare a victory and hold the Conference. They might just do this. Then Leavitt said that they must find a mechanism for creating the States’ Petitions sort of outside the realm of the Conference rules and agenda. Whatever that means. Maybe it means preplan a States’ Petition to present to Congress.
And then Leavitt said, (pphrs) “You know, we really don’t have a plan for this Conference – it looks bad because we don’t have a plan other than to get the Conference started”. He also suggested bringing in representatives of cities, counties and even if necessary – bringing in Clinton to the Conference. And then Governor Nelson stood up and said that they should target 12 states and go after them. Now, he didn’t mention which 12 states that would be. I think I have a good idea of what those states would be…. and that is basically a southern strategy also with maybe perhaps Massachusetts.
Now this is where this guy from Massachusetts – a heavy-set guy with light brown or dark blond hair – he said they are the masters of ‘sleight-of-hand’ in Massachusetts and that is how they intend to pursue the resolution in Massachusetts. And that’s when this woman down at the other end of the table piped up and said that they really want to get this through without hearings, just a quick voice vote, before anybody got any wind of it…
CDR: That’s probably… she’s a Democrat from Massachusetts.. Representative Joan Menard – she’s on the Steering Committee. I’m making an assumption here…
JOHN: She had blond hair, about 50 years old. Ahh… let’s see, I told you that Leavitt lamented the fact about not having an agenda for the Conference of States? We know that’s not true. They do have a proposal. In their 1989 literature they presented their proposals to amend Article V and our 10th Amendment….
CDR: Yes… the CSG/ACIR report. But this whole thing is being sold as Leavitt’s idea. The newspapers said the CSG and ACIR are ‘supporting Leavitt’s idea of a Conference of States’.
JOHN: Right… and additionally, this is where they got back to the corporate promotion and sponsorship and help – and this is where a guy from Texaco, his name was Wayne Donnelson (sp?)….apparently there is global corporate membership in the CSG. I didn’t know that. But anyway, he stood up and said… I think he was from Texas… up to this point everybody thought this was going to be a slam-dunk victory. That they did not anticipate the level of opposition to the Conference of States. And up to this point they had not committed many resources or time in helping the CSG but now that they’re aware of what’s going on they are more than happy to commit resources.
Now, whatever that means – whether it’s ‘human resources’, money… I don’t know. Then a representative from Chevron and Mobile followed Wayne Donnelson and said essentially the same thing. Then there was a 4th guy from another corporation that said the same thing.
CDR: You don’t know where he was from?
JOHN: No. At this point, this was close to my two-hour limit. I saw people checking me out. I didn’t get the names. I knew I was going to get the hook very shortly…. I quit writing because I knew people were looking at me. Finally a woman stood up from another corporation – she said the same thing. Then there was another – but I quit taking notes because I was being watched. I was sitting in the first row behind Leavitt and Nelson. At the corner at that side of the arrangement was a woman who kept looking over at me – a CSG official – she didn’t speak during this time….
CDR: How do you know she was from CSG?
JOHN: She had a badge on. As I said people were quietly conversing with each other while this session was going on. This woman from Ohio, to my right…
CDR: Was that Jane Campbell? She’s a Representative from Ohio. On the steering Committee.
JOHN: I don’t know. I just remember her badge said ‘Ohio’. She leaned over and said, (pphr) “Isn’t this wonderful?” And I said yes, I feel honored to be here, and she said “Well, who are you?” And I said I was just here by accident and I hear this thing is very controversial there’s a lot of disinformation out there and I was glad to have the opportunity to hear for real what they plan to do to the country. And she agreed there was a lot of disinformation out there.
Then, the woman at the table who had been looking at me went over and whispered something in Leavitt’s ear. Then Leavitt said they were going to take a five-minute break. The woman then came over to me and asked who I am and she said (pphrs) “Well, you know, this is really closed to the public and we don’t want any news reporters or the public here. This is a strategy meeting.” – I told here I worked for a newspaper, that’s why I have so much knowledge about this – and she said she hated to be the bearer of bad news but she had to ask me to leave.
CDR: You told me something earlier about what happened in Florida and I don’t think you mentioned it.
JOHN: OK. Here’s what happened. There was a guy named Willy. He’s been in the Florida legislature for 13 years. He said he had to twist arms to get this thing passed. He said he put his neck on the line and he had promised two or three people membership in the CSG to get them to vote for it.
CDR: Can you think of anything else you may have missed?
JOHN: Yes…there was the southern guy. He was aware of the movement of rescinding it in Missouri and that has to be stopped. Once again, I could not write as fast as these guys were talking, so what I’m telling you, other than what I’ve written on this paper, is from memory. It’s not exact words.
CDR: So they talked about zeroing in on 12 states but they didn’t say which ones?
JOHN: No. Once again, and it’s my opinion, they’re going to use the corporations and foundations.
CDR: In other words, a lot of these people who get elected are financed largely by these corporations and the lobbyists will be soliciting their vote?
JOHN: They thought that this would be an easy job – getting this thing through – and now they realize what they’re up to and they’re going to pull out all the stops.
[End of Interview]