|John Kerry and Hedge Fund Mistress
Lee Whitnum is a former software engineer who currently works as a substitute teacher for the Stamford schools and lives in Greenwich. She first achieved her 15 minutes of national fame in August 2004. On her Web site, she posted photos and reminiscences of her purported 20-month romance with John Kerry in an effort to help sell pre-orders of her novel, Hedge Fund Mistress. The John Kerry Scrapbook, released during Kerry's Presidential campaign, was an instant hit for blogs and gossip columns.
She dished out intimate details of the relationship to news media, informing a New York Daily News gossip columnist, "All I can tell you is that John is 100% male" and he was "great in bed."
John would whisper French phrases in my ear. I would say, "Speak to me in French!" and so he'd do it. I don't know what he was saying. I don't speak French.
Her marketing campaign earned her hundreds of negative e-mails, causing her to remove the Kerry scrapbook. (It was archived by others. Oddly, on her replacement page, she insists the original page never had photos of Kerry at a podium or tree planting, which it demonstrably did.) But she was much more upset about the fact that she didn't sell any books.
Perhaps this was a bad idea. No one is even buying any books. So what is the point?
I'm dealing with the reality that I had 16,000 hits and absolutely zero book orders. I realized that this was an experiment that did not work.
All those nice media people who called and wanted to put me on tv. Thank you. That was kind of you but if doesn't sell books and it exposes me to universal scorn with absolutely no benefit, then what is the point?
She not only used her personal relationship with John Kerry to try to sell her book, she used the relationship to write the book, which she penned under the name "Lee Roystone." In the novel, her alter ego, Nikki Matthews, has an affair with a Democratic Massachusetts Senator who later runs for President (Nikki refers to him as a "caveman" in bed). The lead character picks up and moves to Greenwich Connecticut. She now insists the book was not autobiographical, though the authenticity of at least the Kerry-inspired chapter was central to her sales pitch in 2004.
"The events in the chapter are all true," said Miss Roystone, 42, last week. "I don't think there's anything derogatory or pornographic there, but I have told the story as it was."
On the latest cover design for her novel she excerpts a few words from what is probably the only published "review" of the book: "...readers are treated to an 'insider' account..." But this is the full quote:
Although her Mills and Boon writing style will not win rave reviews, readers are treated to an "insider" account of the senator's bachelor days.
Defending her novel against those who have described it as erotic fiction, Whitnum has repeatedly insisted it is a "mainstream novel." Indeed, one can't help but be moved by the subtle poetry and emotional nuance of her writing:
He leaned over me, and I whacked his bare buttocks. I kept it up until his backside was streaked with red and he grunted in pain each time I brought the whip down.
On the day she got media coverage for her Kerry Scrapbook, her Yahoo Web hosting account was shut down for eight hours, perhaps because of the high traffic. She later sued Yahoo for $125,000 for book sales that she claimed she lost during this eight-hour period. (Given that she was complaining about zero book sales when her site was up, it's unclear how she calculated this estimate.) In her legal complaint, she charged that Yahoo was trying to silence her for political reasons.
I think that the shut down was politically motivated to "protect" John Kerry and thus was willful wrongdoing, discrimination and a violation of my free speech rights.
Just last September, the court dismissed her lawsuit and found that Whitnum "has not alleged any facts in support of these conclusions."
Lee Whitnum has repeatedly expressed hostility - verbal and legal - toward numerous bloggers. After a local blogger made some critical comments about Whitnum's history, the blogger received an e-mail from "Marianne Cook, Esq.," acting on behalf of the Whitnum campaign and asking the blogger to contact her. However, there does not appear to be any lawyer by that name practicing in Connecticut, and the e-mail was sent from Whitnum's own e-mail address. Cook also appears as a "reviewer" of Whitnum's novel. Whitnum has repeatedly refused to explain the incident.
When she decided to run for Congress, she preferred that evidence of her past behavior should disappear, so she asked the national WizBang and GalleyCat blogs (among others) to delete their references to the Kerry/Hedge Fund Mistress incident. When GalleyCat declined, she responded:
"No one is interested in your site or me," she responded over the next few emails. "Other sites, more known than yours, have agreed to remove it."
When the Wizbang blog refused, they received a letter this Februrary ostensibly from an attorney named Philomene Gates threatening legal action unless a two paragraph excerpt from the Hedge Fund Mistress site was immediately deleted. The author of the letter introduced numerous spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors in a mere four sentences. In an emerging pattern, there does not appear to be any such lawyer practicing in New York State, though the reference may be to an elderly retiree.
If this is the lawyer, then she got her law degree 66 years ago, and is currently about 90 years old. Makes the third-grade level writing in the letter even more amusing.
Whitnum has also asked MLN to remove all references to anything she ever said. How she plans to remove references to her in the Washington Post, Boston Herald, and New York Daily News is not known.
She has not taken kindly to local bloggers who document or question her behavior, repeatedly calling them "sleazy," "losers," "cowards," and "pathetic." (More here.)
She has also made blog posts as Masked Man and other personas, praising herself and attacking her critics, a practice known as sock puppetry.
She told a blogger who reported meeting her that he lied about ever encountering her. Despite numerous first person reports to the contrary and many exchanges archived on multiple blogs, she has issued a blanket denial that she has ever had a conversation with any blogger anywhere.
Conversations bloggers claimed they had with me never happened. I don't know these people.
Her campaigning skills
Ms. Whitnum has not had much success in gathering supporters to her cause, particularly among Democratic activists.
Whitnum has done little to earn the good graces of Connecticut's Democratic leaders; no delegates voted for her at the district's May 12 nominating convention.
Whitnum thinks little of earning the support of these politicos. In the nine months since she first considered a run for office, she didn't seek any endorsements and, as of this week, could not point to any elected officials who champion her.
She did not make favorable impressions at her visits to the Fairfield or Greenwich Democratic Town Committee meetings.
She reported having only five volunteers for her campaign and was joined by only one supporter at the press conference where she launched her primary campaign.
Yet, after Jim Himes received the Democratic endorsement, when she had trouble gathering the required signatures to petition her way onto the primary ballot, she sent an urgent appeal to Democratic Town Committee chairs asking them to spread the word and recruit volunteers for her signature gathering.
Several of the bloggers whom she has berated are also Congressional convention delegates, Democratic town committee members and party activists. This has led to awkward encounters in which she tells them how much she hates them as she asks for their help, requests their endorsements as she sends threatening e-mails, insults them as she pleads "send me a check," and leaves angry voice mails as she asks for support.
She is also said to have called a local reporter at 5 a.m. to shout profanities and tell him that he was ruining her life.
Her issues and Nazi conspiracies
A major motivation for Whitnum's campaign is her obvious dislike of Democratic nominee Jim Himes.
"He's a total party boy," Ms. Whitnum said. "He doesn't blow his nose without permission from the Democratic Party."
Indeed, she thinks Himes has much in common with fascist mass murderers. She posted her most famous screed, "Jim Himes Nazi Connecticut," both on MLN and on her own Web site (she deleted the latter post).
I went to bed a congressional candidate and I woke up to find myself in Jim Himes' version of Nazi, Germany; the powerful Himes has completely sown up the Internet media in my state. How did he do it? He wined and dined bloggers and reporters in his big Greenwich house.
She later reassured the Greenwich Time that she was not actually calling Himes a Nazi, just accusing him of creating a Nazi state. By talking to bloggers. Because that's just what the Nazis did. They chatted up bloggers. Plus the genocide thing.
Given her enmity toward Himes, some have questioned whether she is interested in defeating or re-electing Congressman Chris Shays. While she often complains that Himes takes no stand on issues, she appears more interested in attacking Himes than discussing her own views or challenging Shays.
When asked about her key issues, Whitnum instead insulted Himes several times during an interview with The Hour. Compared to her remarks on Himes, Whitnum has far less negative things to say about Shays.
"I don't have a problem with Chris Shays, except that he voted for the war in Iraq and he voted for Kyl-Lieberman," - an amendment interpreted by some Democrats as setting the stage for a war with Iran - Whitnum said. "... Other than that, I kind of like Chris Shays."
Republicans would appear to be one natural ally for her, and at least one of her handful of petition volunteers was recently registered as a Republican.
She condemns neoconservatives but calls paleoconservative, Nixon apologist, and Reagan fan Pat Buchanan one of her heroes. She talks a populist line, calling herself "the people's candidate," but prefers health care legislation pushed by the business lobby.
She is not likely to endear herself to female voters, since she wants to restrict women's control of their bodies.
On the issue of abortion, she said that she did not support banning the procedure, but wanted to curtail access. "I've seen a lot of abuses in my life," she said of abortion.
She feels strongly about recycling, and, as a substitute teacher, was very upset that a principal at a school where she worked in Greenwich had failed to provide a recycling bin in the cafeteria. Committed to effective action, she went straight to the top to complain, sending a letter to State Department of Education Commissioner Betty Sternberg and posting the letter on her campaign Web site.
Perhaps my weeks of gentle prodding will pay off. I'll believe it when I see it. [....] Maybe she'll finally recycle now eleven months after she should have been doing it. We will see if it ever happens - if it does it never would have happened without my prodding. My impression was that this woman does not care at all about doing the right thing and she resented, strongly, my bringing it up. There are two kinds of people in the world - those who give a damn and those who do not. We deserve better at our schools.
Character matters, especially when it comes to our children. I feel Ms. [X]'s actions speak volumes about her character [....]. Her behavior should not go unnoted.
Racism and immigration
Next to her dislike of Himes and bloggers, Whitnum's real passion is the issue of immigration, particularly the undocumented. The Fairfield Weekly, which nominated Whitnum as one of their top clowns of 2007, was puzzled about her position of requiring the mass deportation of millions of people.
[Whitnum] doesn't have a platform so much as a list of pet peeves. "Illegal immigrants who refuse to register as taxpayers by a certain date must be rounded up and deported," she writes on her site. [....] "Register as taxpayers" with who? ICE?
She's also angry about legal immigrants (though she doesn't always get her math straight about the impact of work visas).
She's sick of all the H-1B visas given to specifically qualified foreign workers; she has a hard time finding work these days and collaborated on her last software project with a bunch of Chinese and Indian dudes, she griped to us.
Whitnum seems to think immigrants are at the root of America's problems:
The United States functioned just fine before we were overrun with illegals bankrupting our hospitals and straining our infrastructure.
She even criticized Jim Himes (who spent some years in Latin America) for recording a holiday message in Spanish in a Web video.
I do take a hard stand on illegal and some of the legal immigration. Meanwhile Himes is posting Spanish videos on Youtube.com greeting them.
The implication? Spanish speaking people can't be citizens and should be shunned.
On her Web site, Whitnum made what appeared to be a crude racial appeal as the candidate who would restore the rule of the White majority (her text has since been deleted from her site):
"...77% of the people of this district are White, 51% are female, the last census confirmed that single women outnumber married woman for the first time in history. Therefore, I represent the majority...we want our country back."
She reportedly also made racial references in a Democratic Town Committee presentation.
Some of the organizational sources she has relied upon to develop her views on immigration have been identified as racist hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League, both well-known for tracking these groups. She cites the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has close ties to white supremacists, including the Council of Conservative Citizens, which has described blacks as a "retrograde species of humanity."
(Her URL redirects visitors to the FAIR site, which I will not link to.)
The Anti-Defamation League has also documented FAIR's racist connections, particularly those of founder and Board member John Tanton:
He publishes The Social Contract, an anti-immigration journal whose Website links to a number of extremist sites, including: VDare, a Website that publishes racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant articles authored by extremists; American Border Patrol, the virulently anti-Hispanic border vigilante group whose leader, Glenn Spencer, claimed that the Mexican government is "sponsoring the invasion of the United States with hostile intent".... [...]
An article in the Spring 2007 issue of The Social Contract lauds Sam Francis, a deceased white supremacist, as a "formidable and articulate champion." Tanton remains on the FAIR Board of Directors. In 1997, Tanton told the Detroit Free Press that if the borders are not secured, America will be overrun by people "defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs."
The SPLC also reports:
FAIR has long been marked by anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes. It has mixed this bigotry with a fondness for eugenics, the idea of breeding better humans discredited by its Nazi associations. It has accepted $1.2 million from an infamous, racist eugenics foundation. It has employed officials in key positions who are also members of white supremacist groups. Recently, it has promoted racist conspiracy theories about Mexico's secret designs on the American Southwest and an alternative theory alleging secret plans to merge the United States, Mexico and Canada. Just last February, a senior FAIR official sought "advice" from the leaders of a racist Belgian political party.
Whitnum quotes the Center for Immigration Studies, a stepchild of John Tanton and FAIR:
Tanton is the puppeteer behind this entire movement. [...] It's been clear since 1988, when a series of embarrassing internal memos by Tanton and Roger Conner [who was then executive director of FAIR] were leaked to the press, what the overall strategy is. [...] The blueprint envisaged creating a whole array of organizations that serve the overall ideological and political battle plan to halt immigration - even if some of these groups have somewhat differing politics.
They camouflage the links between these organizations, their true origins, so that they appear to have arisen spontaneously. But in fact they have the same creator, Tanton. [....]
FAIR's tax records established that the Center for Immigration Studies, which has become an influential Washington institution, was spun off from FAIR as a separate organization.
The memos from Tanton and Connor confirm that the Center is a creation of FAIR.
To expand our fund-raising market, we created the Center for Immigration Studies last year. We need to get CIS fully funded and entrenched as a major Washington think-tank, one that can venture into issues which FAIR is not yet ready to raise.
Finally, for her immigrant deportation policy, she turns to the National Policy Institute, which more openly uses white supremacist rhetoric and is described by the Anti-Defamation League as a racist think tank. It has described its mission and work as an attempt:
"to elevate the consciousness of whites, ensure our biological and cultural continuity, and protect our civil rights. The institute ... will study the consequences of the ongoing influx that non-Western populations pose to our national identity." In an August 2005 speech to the Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance [....], [Institute founder William] Regnery warned that "within the first or secondhand memories of people in this room, the white race may go from master of the universe to an anthropological curiosity."
On the Board of the National Policy Institute is Jared Taylor, editor of the American Renaissance journal, which:
...published an article by race scientist Richard Lynn [...] under the title "Race and the Psychopathic Personality" that argued that blacks "are more psychopathic than whites" and suffer from a "personality disorder" characterized by a poverty of feeling, lack of shame, pathological lying and so on. After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the magazine ratcheted up its customary attacks on blacks, particularly in an error-ridden essay by Taylor that said the hurricane "was an excuse [for blacks] to loot, rob, rape and kill." American Renaissance, based in Taylor's home in Oakton, Va., also publishes frequent articles on the discredited field of eugenics -- selective breeding to improve human genetic stock.
OK, nuff said.
In regards to Whitnum's talking points, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for the federal benefits she describes and her arguments are largely based on myths.
Whitnum's challenges in gathering supporters have been matched by her difficulty in gathering contributions. As of the first quarter of 2008, Whitnum had raised only $200 in contributions (or perhaps only $100 - her reports are difficult to interpret) and loaned herself $5,000. Himes had raised $1.4 million, an advantage of approximately 27,000 percent.
In keeping with her one-woman campaign tradition, she acts as her own campaign treasurer. (She also identifies herself in a report as "Lisa 'Lee' Whitnum.") She has had trouble filing campaign finance reports that follow the Federal Elections Commission rules that all other candidates in the country are required to follow. Her practices have included:
- filing a report months after the deadline,
- failing to file required reports (eg, a pre-convention report that has still not been submitted),
- failing to report for the required quarterly periods (eg, making up a 2/1 to 4/15 reporting period rather than the required 1/1 to 3/31 period for the first quarter of this year),
- filing reports for overlapping time periods, and
- failing to itemize her expenses as required, making it impossible to track her use of funds.
It's curious accounting by a candidate who in 2004 claimed to have formerly worked as an accountant at a Windsor-based hedge fund. (She is not a CPA.)
The many faces of Lee Whitnum
As noted above, there are many names used by Lee Whitnum or those who seem to speak on her behalf, including Lisa Whitnum, Lee Roystone, Masked Man, Marianne Cook (as both "attorney" and book reviewer), and Philomene Gates. As a final curiosity, her book was published by Alpha Blue Publishing. Its home page (deleted by Whitnum after it was discussed on this blog) warned visitors of their high professional standards and the substantial demands on their staff.
Due to the high volume of manuscripts we receive, Alpha Blue Publishing, Inc. does not normally accept unsolicited manuscripts [.....]
The preferred and standard method for having manuscripts considered for publication by a major publisher is through an established literary agent.
However, Alpha Blue Publishing is Lee Whitnum, and there were only two publications printed by Alpha Blue, both of them written and self-published by Whitnum. The company Web site was registered to her pen name, Lee Roystone.
Her self-editing might help to explain the problems identified in her novel's sole Amazon reader review.
As I read the book, I noticed many typos, missing words, grammatical errors, etc. In several places the story line was interupted by the author's inclusion of rants on her own political theory and unnecessary details.
What's next? Add to the scrapbook
So what comes next in Whitnum's feisty campaign? She's anything but predictable, but promises she will continue to "fight like a wild cat." And which of the Democratic candidates should you choose? You'll have to struggle through that conundrum yourself.
Consider this a Lee Whitnum scrapbook. Add your favorite memories, e-mail exchanges, and personal snapshots for posterity in the comments below.
(And just for Ms. Whitnum's benefit, I don't work or volunteer for the Himes campaign, and have never met Himes or been coopted by his gifts of soda and potato chips.)