Three Gigantic Loans to Unity08, Under What Terms?
Unity08 has just electronically filed its report itemizing contributions of at least $200 for the first six months of 2007. You can read it here yourself.
There are many important pieces of information to sift through here, and you can trust that I will. But the figure that jumps out most immediately is that $460,000.00 — a majority amount of all contributions to Unity08 in the first six months of 2007 — came from just three people:
1. Robert Bingham, technology investor. Loaned $250,000.00 to Unity08 on May 15, 2007, contributed outright $500 on February 1, 2007 and contributed outright $4,500 on April 26, 2007. Total contribution to Unity08 to date: $255,000.00. These monetary contributions occurred before news emerged that Douglas Bailey was ousted as CEO of Unity08 and Robert Bingham was to be the new CEO of Unity08 in public, on June 4 of 2007 on KPBS.
2. George Vradenburg, Past VP for Global and Strategy Policy at AOL, current President of the Vradenburg Foundation, current Member Council on Foreign Relations. Loaned $100,000.00 to Unity08 on June 11, 2007 and contributed outright $5,000 on February 1, 2007. Also contributed outright $5,000 to Unity08 on August 14, 2006. Total contribution to Unity08 to date: $110,000.00.
3. Martin “Marty” Capdevilla, founder and president of Frontier Trading Inc., a grocery export business in San Diego. Loaned $100,000.00 to Unity08 on June 22, 2007.
The IRS filing shows that without the massive contributions from these three individuals, Unity08’s expenses would have outstripped its expenses in the first six months of 2007 by more than $23,000. These loans were the difference between Unity08 being solvent and Unity08 being broke. What’s more, the expenses listed for the first six months of 2007 do not include any charges from Weiss Linescale Corporation, the market research firm which is currently executing the first round of voting in Unity08’s presidential selection process under some unknown conditions. Unity08 would not have been able to proceed with its presidential selection process without the massive contributions from Bingham, Vradenburg and Capdevilla.
In short, Unity08 has put itself in a circumstance of high dependence upon the largesse Bingham, Vradenburg and Capdevilla. As Richard Emerson noted more than 40 years ago, dependence puts one in another’s power. This is not planning for a Sunday School Picnic we’re talking about here. Unity08 plans to nominate and elect its own candidates for president and vice president of the most powerful nation on the planet. So it’s entirely appropriate to ask questions, and to expect some answers to them:
1. What are the terms of these loans?
2. Were the loans provided under the no-interest, optional-payback scheme identified in the Unity08 paperwork unearthed by the FEC?
3. Was Robert Bingham’s appointment as CEO of Unity08 in June 2007 in any way associated with the provision of loans and contributions by Robert Bingham in the Spring of 2007?
4. Has Unity08 or Unity08 leadership made any promises or assurances to Bingham, Vradenburg, Capdevilla, or any person or body associated with them? If so, what are they?
In the summer of 2006, when Unity08 debuted on the public scene, it promised to act “in the spirit of greater financial transparency, which is sorely lacking in politics today.” In January of 2007, Unity08 deleted that pledge from its website.
Unity08 can answer these questions quickly and completely, demonstrating its commitment to the spirit of greater financial transparency, which indeed is sorely lacking in politics today. Or Unity08 can refuse to answer these questions, demonstrating something different altogether, and leading those citizens who aren’t in the corporation’s inner circle to wonder and to speculate.