An open letter to Mayor Bloomberg on the wall of denial and obfuscation surrounding his support for the Fred Newman-Lenora Fulani cult--and especially its work with children and teenagers

June 22, 2005

Dear Mr. Mayor:

The entire city knows that you made a deal with Lenora Fulani's New York Independence Party to get elected in 2001, and that you are relying heavily on the IP to help you get reelected this year.

But you have managed to keep hidden from most voters the underlying facts of this deal--that you ended up providing massive support to the anti-Semitic political cult, led by Fred Newman, which controls the IP. Although your support for the cult has partly been earmarked for IP electoral activities, the centerpiece is the $8.5 million tax-free loan your Industrial Development Agency gave Newman and Fulani, which they leveraged into tens of millions of dollars in private donations to build a new headquarters for, and expand the scope of, their All Stars Project, which works with kids from age five through the teen years.

They wanted tax dollars to work with kids--don't you believe in background checks before letting people work with New York's children?

Mr. Mayor, if you had bothered to investigate these people, you would have learned that they have a 35-year record of practicing quack psychotherapy on little children and teens, of politically indoctrinating them with Newman and Fulani's peculiar mixture of Marxism and anti-Semitism, of using them as political pawns (as when the cult bused pre-teens from its now-defunct Harlem private school to Washington D.C. to demonstrate on behalf of terrorist dictator Muammar Gadhafi at the height of his campaign of violence against Americans), and of allegedly putting teens on the street to raise money for Newman and/or do election campaign work.

You could easily have learned, Mr. Mayor, that Newman has called for destroying the "bourgeois family," and that his followers provided political and/or legal support over a 15-year period to a succession of high-profile child abusers, beginning with the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) defendants in 1983 and extending to the infamous Tony Alamo in the late 1990s (all this apart from the cult's attempts to defend the record of child rapist and cop-killer David Koresh of the Branch Davidians).

You could also easily have found out how the Newman-Fulani cult has worked to persuade the parents, teachers and volunteers associated with its various dubious youth programs to abandon traditional family life in order to join Newman's "development community," which operates under the control of a secret revolutionary cadre. You could have learned about allegations that mothers recruited to the cult in the 1980s and 1990s were pressured to neglect or even abandon their children in order to work full-time for Newman (one mother has described in detail how, when she quit the cult rather than put her kids in foster care, she and the kids were summarily evicted from the development-community apartment they were living in). You could have talked to the father who took his infant son and fled New York in the 1970s, because, as he alleges, the cult had endangered the infant's life by pressuring the mother to put him on a quack diet concocted by Newman and had then attempted to block medical care when the infant developed complications from a high fever.

You could have visited the website maintained by former members of the Newman cult to read examples of the sad and humiliating declarations that Newman's female followers were pressured to make in the 1990s about how they "wanted" Fred and his top paramour, Gabrielle Kurlander. You could have talked to ex-members who say that women in the group were routinely pressured to get abortions so that their focus would remain entirely on Fred's needs. You could have read psychotherapist Newman's 1990 essay, "Women I Live With," in which he boastfully reveals how he recruited a 16-year-old girl into his movement in the 1970s using techniques that most therapists would regard as blatantly unethical.

Mr. Mayor, you are not alone in forming ties with Newman and Fulani. George Pataki, Chuck Schumer, Eliot Spitzer and Joe Bruno have also provided support to the IP leadership in order to obtain the party's ballot line for themselves or their political allies, or to prevent an opponent from getting it. So have scores of Congressional, state legislative and city council incumbents across the state.

If you were to become the FIRST of the state's major elected officials to step forward and admit your mistake, renounce the IP line, and repudiate the IP's cult-leadership lock, stock and barrel, such a move would not undermine your position as front runner in the mayoral campaign. On the contrary, it would enhance the positive feelings that many New Yorkers have about your stewardship of the city--and would give them for the first time a sense that you are a courageous mayor with strong values, not just a nice guy.

Your support as mayor for Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani is an insult to New York's working families and people of faith

Surely you must be aware, Mr. Mayor, that the Newman cult's values and ideology are sharply at variance with the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of the city's working families, whether Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh or Hindu. It is obvious that your support for the IP's leaders, in spite of their anti-Semitism, is offensive to Jews; indeed, the American Jewish Committee has called on you to sever your ties with Newman and Fulani. But you should also recognize, Mr. Mayor, that your support of the Newman cult might become offensive to hard-working parents of ALL faiths--in the outer boroughs as well as Manhattan--whose tax dollars are currently helping (without their knowledge or consent) to guarantee the solvency of a nonprofit organization that indoctrinates young people with a hate-America, leave-your-family, come-live-in-our-development-community-and-worship-Fred-Newman message.

Can't you see that giving Newman and Fulani an $8.5 million IDA bond even after Fulani blamed the September 11 terror attacks on the "aggression and arrogance" of the U.S. government, was a profound insult to the families of those who were slain during the attacks (and, considering Fulani's suggestion in Nov. 1987 that Libya should be "not nonviolent" towards America, a profound insult to the families of all those New Yorkers who died on Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988)?

Can't you see that laying off police and firefighters (the heroes of September 11) during the 2003 budget crisis--but not rethinking the subsidy to All Stars--could easily be interpreted as an expression of disdain towards those who put their lives on the line every day to keep the rest of us safe?

The Independence Party: An emperor without any clothes

Mr. Mayor, you and other politicians of both parties may think you need the IP ballot line, but in fact the IP is simply an emperor without clothes--an illusion whose power resides solely in the fact that everyone is too afraid or too embarrassed to admit the truth. The leaders of the IP, when all is said and done, have no solid following; most of the voters who have registered under the IP label (thinking they were merely registering as "independents") don't even know who Newman and Fulani are, much less what they stand for. The power of the IP leadership is the power of smoke and mirrors.

I urge you, Mr. Mayor, to show the same common sense as the small child in the Hans Christian Andersen tale, who blurted out before the crowd that the emperor was naked, thereby triggering an eruption of laughter from the emperor's subjects. If you do the same to Fred Newman, Lenora Fulani, and the rest of the IP's self-appointed leaders, it will open the floodgates so that many other politicians can abandon the IP without fear of a rival candidate taking the ballot line. Indeed, once this long overdue revolt against the arm-twisting tactics of the IP leaders begins--and the major politicians of the state one by one repudiate their support--few if any serious candidates will continue to associate with them.

Mr. Mayor, the key to liberating yourself from your IP allies without damaging your reelection campaign should be obvious, and if your campaign advisors have not spotted it, maybe you need new advisors. You should issue a call to all IP members in New York City to repudiate the party's anti-Semitic, totalitarian leadership and to vote for you on an alternative third-party line (there are several options available if you adopt this strategy). If you provide the tens of thousands of registered IP voters in the city with the facts about their party's leadership--utilizing the sophisticated types of mass mailings for which you are celebrated--they will abandon the IP line in droves, and yet will respect you and vote for you on another line, because you were the one who spoke truth to them.

Think of the benefits to your own political and mental health, Mr. Mayor. No more need to make excuses to the New York Post over your allies' latest antics, no more feelings of helplessness and humiliation (as when Fulani affirmed her anti-Semitic views on NY1 News only days after you appeared at a Lincoln Center fundraiser to promote her All Stars charity), no more sense of guilt from the knowledge that you provided them with access to the city's children (I can't believe this doesn't bother your conscience at least a little), no more middle-of-the-night anxiety regarding when the first parent is going to come forward with a lawsuit, or when the first All Stars volunteer or staff member is possibly going to be taken downtown for arraignment before the TV cameras as a result of child-abuse allegations.

Try thinking like a father on this issue, not a politician

You are a proud father, Mr. Mayor. One of your two lovely daughters just said her vows earlier this month in what Fred Newman would probably refer to as a "bourgeois" wedding. Surely you must have uneasy feelings about Newman's "development community"--and surely you must feel at least a twinge of sympathy for those parents who, unlike you, lost their daughters decades ago (and probably permanently) to Fred Newman's manipulative psychotherapy and twisted ideology.

I am not a supporter of any of your opponents, Mr. Mayor. Your record as a mayor is not a bad one in most respects. But I feel I must address you in strong language because your support for the Newman cult and its All Stars youth charity is putting many vulnerable kids at risk--just read the complaint to Attorney General Spitzer that is being circulated on the Internet, and read the report on All Stars that appeared in the June 22 Village Voice.

I also must employ strong language because your office is placing All Stars' adult volunteers at risk of victimization and psychological trauma. If a potential volunteer goes to the website of your Volunteer Center looking for referrals to nonprofit youth programs, he or she will find, prominently listed, the youth programs and artistic projects of the All Stars Project. If you would only speak to former members of the Newman cult (and read the many exposes of it that have appeared in respected media over the years), you might become alarmed over how volunteers in the cult's nonprofit programs--including single career women with large bank accounts--are enticed into "social therapy" and eventually into the underground cadre group, turning over all their assets to Newman. These volunteers are your constituents, Mr. Mayor: Don't you owe them something better than an opportunity to be fleeced of their life savings?

Perhaps, Mr. Mayor, you would be less eager to send volunteers to All Stars after holding a meeting with the many ex-members of the Newman cult who indeed wish very much to sit down with you and recount their experiences. They could describe to you the feelings of fear, betrayal and violation they experienced after leaving the cult. They could tell you how they had to struggle for years to rebuild their lives and learn to trust others again. And many could tell you how their ordeal began when they naively sought supportive therapy from one of Newman's "social therapy" clinics or decided to contribute their time, money and goodwill to a Newman-controlled charity or arts program.

Do you really think you can continue to maintain the wall of denial and obfuscation on this issue?

Mr. Mayor, you have been extraordinarily successful so far in keeping your fellow politicians and the media silent about the HUMAN COSTS of your alliance with the Newman cult, while paying lip service to public concerns over the anti-Semitic remarks of Ms. Fulani (you have denounced her from time to time but have always maintained your friendly relationship with other members of the cult, even though they share her political views). You and Joe Bruno have managed to keep the Republicans silent. Chuck Schumer and Eliot Spitzer, for their part, have kept the Democrats (including your opponents in the mayoral race) silent, because the lower level Democrats don't want to antagonize the most powerful figure in their state party or the man who may become the next governor of New York.

But the wall is beginning to crack, Mr. Mayor. A brave woman named Molly Hardy has come forward with disturbing eyewitness charges about how the All Stars Project treats kids in its custody. A former Newmanite named Jeremiah Duboff has come forward--the first ex-member to go public in many years--to talk about the true nature of the cult's extremist ideology, and you can be sure he will be followed by others, including people who have worked directly with All Stars kids. The FBI in California is currently probing allegations of fraud that focus on a member of the All Stars board of directors--and the paper trail reportedly leads to New York. The Village Voice is planning more articles. A TV investigative series is close to completion. Yes, the wall is beginning to crack--the wall of denial, obfuscation and political spin that for the past four years has prevented New York voters from learning the truth.

Mr. Mayor, tear down this wall! Frankly admit your mistake and repudiate Fred Newman, Lenora Fulani and their entire cult. Call for--and give your unstinting cooperation to law enforcement in--a serious investigation of the finances of the All Stars Project and Newman's social therapy clinics, and of complaints that the cult has engaged in political indoctrination and exploitation of children and teens.

Any reader of the above letter who knows the Mayor personally should pass it on to him (his campaign advisors sure won't), and urge him to read it carefully.