Muckraker Jack Anderson spars publicly with an alleged cult leader.
At last week’s convention of the International Platform Association (IPA), held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Jack Anderson caught up with many old friends. The 78-year-old Pulitzer Prize-
winning journalist serves as chair of the board of directors of the association, which promotes freedom of expression through speech as well as poetry, theater, and art.
He encountered IPA members such as Shirley Duncan and Naomi Young Armstrong, who both joined the organization back in the days when Anderson doggedly covered Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in his syndicated newspaper column, Washington Merry-Go-Round. “Jack has always been an elevating influence in the IPA,” says Duncan. Anderson also spotted friend and former astronaut Gordon Cooper, who has pitched in to boost Anderson’s brainchild, the Young Astronaut Program.
And two seats away from Cooper during Friday’s evening lecture, “Disclosure: 400 Military, Government, and Corporate Witnesses Reveal Secrets About Classified UFO Connected Government Projects,” sat another self-professed Anderson friend, Scott Caruthers.
Caruthers says that his friendship with Anderson began at an IPA convention 10 or 11 years ago. In the past two years, however, Caruthers has exploited his tenuous relationship with the famous journalist to promote a never-produced television show, a supposed book deal with St. Martin’s Press, and what Caruthers calls his “cyber-art” (“You Don’t Know Jack,” 3/2).
Their joint appearance at this year’s convention featured an unscheduled Anderson speech before the IPA membership that sparked a battle between Anderson and Caruthers associates for control of the organization.
Though Caruthers fancies himself a futuristic writer and artist, documents filed in support of an investor lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and a custody battle in the Carroll County, Md., Circuit Court allege that he is something else: a fraudulent businessman and leader of an apocalyptic, cat-worshiping cult, whose followers live in a two-story colonial house on a cul-de-sac in Westminster, Md. Interviewed by the Washington City Paper last February, Anderson said that he had ended all connections with Caruthers once he became aware of Caruthers’ questionable activities.
Their relationship has had a profound impact on the IPA, however. About the time of Caruthers and Anderson’s book collaboration two years ago, Caruthers’ attorney David Pearl says, Anderson urged Pearl to become more active in the IPA. With Anderson’s help and encouragement, says Pearl, he became CEO and director general of the organization last year. Yet the Westminster-based lawyer remains Caruthers’ legal counsel and is quite active in Caruthers’ business interests, as well as a close friend.
“I’ve known Jack Anderson for a number of years,” Pearl told IPA members who had assembled in the Hyatt’s Ticonderoga Room for Wednesday’s opening session, as Caruthers looked on from the second row. Pearl informed the membership that he was a family man and international lawyer who has represented the interests of the Commonwealth of Dominicaa small Caribbean island. Anderson, Pearl noted, had recruited him to “internationalize” the IPA. He accepted the post under the condition, he explained later in his speech, that “Jack Andersonmy dear friend and, at times, mentorwould agree to remain [chair].”
“I have to tell you that I’m here because of Jack Anderson,” reiterated Pearl, a few moments before he introduced Anderson and Anderson’s newspaper-column co-author, Doug Cohn, for their segment of the program.
Founded by Daniel Webster in 1831, the IPA has a 170-year history of promoting freedom of expression. The organization was originally called the American Lyceum Association, named after the public lecture halls created in the spirit of Aristotle’s school in ancient Athens. One of Abraham Lincoln’s earliest public addresses (referred to by scholars as the “Lyceum address”) took place in the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, Ill., in 1838.
These days, most IPA-sponsored discussion takes place at its annual convention in Washington. Many prominent leaders have spoken before the IPA: Colin Powell, Mario Cuomo, Dick Cheney, and Jesse Jackson. Anderson has been active in the IPA for decades, dating back to when he worked with legendary reporter Drew Pearson. IPA convention speakers in the past have also included U.S. Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy, among others.
A good number of the IPA’s current members were around for all three of those presidentsand their speeches before the IPA. The organization has struggled to attract younger members, and it almost shut down last year. That’s when Pearlwith Anderson’s help, he saysassumed leadership. He recruited W. Bradley Bauhof, another Westminster attorney, who has represented alleged members of Caruthers’ group in child-custody cases, to be the IPA’s president. One of Bauhof’s child-custody clients, Dulsa Naedek, serves as the IPA’s administrative director, according to the convention program.
This year’s IPA convention featured more than 40 speakers, including Anderson and Cohn in a brief session on Wednesday evening. That seemed quite a surprise given their recent renunciation of Caruthers. “I’ve got to confess to you that I came here almost directly from the hospital,” Anderson began his lecture. “Old age and ailments are catching up with me.” He further explained that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and he apologized in advance for any “antisocial” behaviors.
At Saturday evening’s banquet, Anderson sat on the dais with Pearl and honorees Cooper (who accepted the IPA’s 2001 Gordon Cooper Award), National Review Online Editor Jonah Goldberg, and Fox News Senior Correspondent Rita Cosby, who received the IPA’s 2001 Jack Anderson Award for outstanding investigative reporting. Caruthers, wife Dashielle Lashra, Naedek, and a few others sat at a table close by.
At the end of the banquet, Pearl announced that Anderson had a few additional words to express. Anderson spoke glowingly about his many years with the IPA and then read from the following written statement:
When David Pearl approached me about becoming the organization’s director general, I expressed misgivings because as an attorney he represented individuals associated with a group often characterized as a cult. He explained that like many attorneys, he was not responsible for the activities of his clients, and he promised that the clients in question would not be involved in IPA. Clearly, they have been extensively involved in this convention, and while our organization has always welcomed varied and controversial speakers, we are not going to be controlled by any of them.
All chattering in the Hyatt’s Regency Ballroom stopped.
Further, Mr. Pearl has characterized me as his mentor. This is not true. I cannot stand by and allow our organization to be taken over and used for purposes that are incompatible with its charter. Therefore, I here now call for the immediate resignation of David Pearl as director general and CEO and W. Bradley Bauhof as president, or in the alternative, as a member of the executive committee I call for an emergency meeting of the board to remove them. If one of these steps is not taken forthwith, I will resign as your chairman and as a member.
“And,” Anderson added, “it will break my heart to do so.”
Anderson’s revelations shocked most of the IPA’s membershipbut not all. Some members of the organization’s board last spring had received anonymously mailed packets that contained newspaper articles about Caruthers, Pearl, the lawsuits involving both men, and their attempts to exploit their relationship with Anderson.
At 11:45 a.m. Sunday morningabout 12 hours after Anderson dropped his “bombshell,” as members call itthe board met to discuss the ultimatum. Though they acknowledged Anderson’s contributions, many longtime IPA members bridled in a grandmotherly way at the impoliteness of the muckraker’s public denigration of Pearl, whose parents, wife, and children had attended the
Still, they inquired about Caruthers’ connection to the IPA. Pearl explained that Caruthers was only a member. He admitted that Caruthers had been slated to speak at the convention but that Anderson had objected after the newspaper articles began to circulate. “It was only then that Jack called me up and said that Scott Caruthers cannot be part of this convention,” Pearl explained. “In deference to Jack[Caruthers] was supposed to speakbut I had to withdraw him.”
Anderson did not attend the board meeting, but Cohn spoke on his behalf. “Jack’s answer is that there are a variety of allegations [about Caruthers] made in the Baltimore Sun and the Washington City Paper,” argued Cohn. “He does not want to be associated with them. He does not want IPA to be associated with them.”
Caruthers, for his part, confirmed his membership in the IPA and said that he attended the convention as an ambassador for the Commonwealth of Dominica, whose past and present prime ministers were honored during the five-day event.
He offered no comment about his friendship with Anderson.
About 1 p.m., the board cast its vote: 14 votes to retain Pearl, 2 votes against, and 1 abstention. Pearl would remain the IPA’s director general, and the board accepted Anderson’s resignation. Cohn immediately left the meeting after the decision: “Jack is not associated with Scott Caruthers in any way,” he reiterated.
But the IPA now clearly is. Both Pearl and Bauhof, who looked ashen during the proceedings, thanked the membership for their support. “I personally think it’s Jack’s illness,” Pearl began to say, but the crowd shouted him down. He quickly reversed course. “I appreciate all that Jack has done for the organization, and I consider him a good friend,” he said. CP