Friday, October 28, 2011

Caught fibbing, top anti-gay campaign consultant scrubs NewMex animal rights "client" from their site; meanwhile DC & PA pro-animal clients seem to be playing ostrich

The item was about Campaign Solutions, a company that puts together big money political campaigns for anti-gay rights candidates like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum, and anti-gay rights ballot measures including California's Yes on Prop. 8.

As I reported, although they're apparently not keen on civil rights for gay people, Campaign Solutions claimed to represent three organizations that promote the rights of animals.

Oops. Make that two organizations.

The day after my item ran, in search of reaction comments, I e-mailed the three groups: Animal Protection of New Mexico, the American Anti-Vivisection Society of Jenkintown, PA, and the DC-area Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

So far I've only gotten one reply, but it was same-day pronto:

According to an e-mail I received later that day from Ms. Jennings, "I will be contacting (Campaign Solutions) and asking them to correct their site."

Looks like they did.

Campaign Solutions boy wonder Anthony Bellotti proudly puts together some of the company's highest profile campaigns to limit civil rights for gay Americans. Here's his web page before my item ran:

The day after I received Elisabeth Jennings's e-mail, her organization disappeared from boy wonder's web page:

I asked Rebecca "Becki" Donatelli, president of Campaign Solutions (and arguably one of the most influential voices in Republican politics), if she or boy wonder wanted to comment.

Rebecca Donatelli

Her reply:

What about her company's other animal rights clients, the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)?

Radio silence so far.

I did, however, receive an October 24 e-mail from Pattrice Jones, a writer who advocates for animal rights and for civil rights for gay people. She was one of five like-minded activists I copied on my inquiries to AAVS and PCRM.

Pattrice Jones (source)

She wrote:
First, let me vouch for both AAVS (with which I have worked concerning genetic engineering of animals) and PCRM (with which I have worked concerning the globalization of unhealthy Western diets), as organizations staffed and managed by persons who are committed to social justice. I assume that they have been disgusted to learn that they have been doing business with a company that also fosters homophobia.
My guess is that both of these organizations would be willing to make a statement condemning homophobia and/or eventually divest themselves from association with that company. However, I also understand that they may need some lead time to make such a move.
Perhaps they should consider hiring Ms. Jennings of Animal Protection of New Mexico? Now there's someone who doesn't need much lead time to make a move.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whistleblower Annabel Melongo thanks bloggers (including me) who have reported about her case

Subject: Thanks
From: Annabel Melongo <>
Date: 10/24/2011 11:50 PM

Jason Haap, The Cincinnati Beacon
Lee Cary, The American Thinker
Peter M. Heimlich, The Sidebar
Stephen Lendman, The Stephen Lendman Blog

Dear Jason, Lee, Peter, and Stephen:

Last week I was released from Cook County Jail after Judge Steven J. Goebel granted my motion to be released under house arrest. I'm now living with a close friend and doing fine.

Under the provisions of Judge Goebel's order, I'm unable to discuss my case with representatives of the media, but I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for the articles you've written.


Annabel Melongo
Chicago, IL

SALF whistleblower’s atty: IL cop’s “fraud and perjury” led to her indictment!, Cincinnati Beacon, July 15, 2010

A Political Prisoner in Illinois? by Lee Cary, The American Thinker, September 20, 2010

Annabel Melongo: Victimized and Imprisoned by Stephen Lendman, January 5, 2011

After being held for 18 months in Cook County Jail for "eavesdropping," SALF whistleblower Annabel Melongo has been released under house arrest - and an Illinois senator wants to know what's been going on: "To say this whole case is troubling would be an understatement" by me, The Sidebar, October 21, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

After being held for 18 months in Cook County Jail for "eavesdropping," SALF whistleblower Annabel Melongo has been released under house arrest - and an Illinois senator wants to know what's been going on: "To say this whole case is troubling would be an understatement"

Annabel K. Melongo

A week after Circuit Court Judge Steven J. Goebel signed this court order, self-described fraud whistleblower Annabel Melongo has been released under house arrest from Cook County Jail after being held 18 months on a $300,000 bond.

The charges? Per the April 2010 grand jury indictment, under Illinois's controversial eavesdropping law, the state alleges that Melongo uploaded to her website recordings of routine phone conversations with a courthouse clerk.

Now an Illinois state senator with a background in law enforcement is asking serious questions about the case.

Melongo, who's been called a "political prisoner" by bloggers who've written about her case, is a former employee of the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), a one-time high-profile, politically-connected Chicago-area nonprofit.

According to this page from Melongo's now-defunct website - it went dark while she was imprisoned - Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has been "harassing" her since October 2006 in order to protect powerful politicians whom she alleges were involved with SALF.
In October 2006, Annabel was charged of destroying SALF's files, among them financial records. Those charges were entirely based on claims made by SALF's founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri of Grayslake, IL. According to multiple news reports, Spizzirri has a history of serious fabrications, including the false claim that she is a Registered Nurse; that she worked as a renal transplant nurse in a Milwaukee hospital; and that she earned a BSN degree from a Wisconsin college whose name she misspelled on her CV.
...Illinois taxpayers may wonder why the state's top law enforcement officer (Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose High Tech Crimes unit assisted in the state's case against Melongo) and Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez are expending so much time and public money to prosecute this trumped-up case against her rather than investigate what happened to the millions of tax dollars that went to the Save-A-Life Foundation.
Re: the above allegations against Spizzirri and more, see Where Did the Save-A-Life Money Go?, a San Diego newsweekly article from last year.

In another twist, since last year SALF has reportedly been under investigation by Attorney General Madigan's Charitable Trust Bureau. (A November letter from the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services indicates a federal investigation is also underway.)

Now Sen. Tim Bivins, a Republican from the Northwestern part of the state, has publicly expressed his concerns about the Melongo case.

Winning office in 2008 after retiring from 20 years as a county sheriff, Bivins learned about Melongo's situation after he began asking questions about another chapter in the SALF history: Gery Chico's relationship with the now-tainted nonprofit.

Gery Chico accepts award from SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri (2003?)

A long-time Chicago power player who ran second to Rahm Emanuel in this year's mayoral race, Chico's appointment to head the State Board of Education was reportedly stalled in June by the Senate Executive Appointments Committee on which Bivins serves. To my knowledge, no date's been set, but Chico's slated to appear before the committee to answer questions about SALF.

Sen. Tim Bivins

In response to my inquiry about his interest in the Melongo case, Sen. Bivins e-mailed me this statement:
To say this whole case is troubling would be an understatement.
Annabel Melongo has spent a year and a half in jail and her accuser is alleged to have a tainted past, which if true, would make her a witness and alleged victim without credibility.
Did Annabel Melongo with intent destroy SALF's records or was she a whistleblower who was set up by her former boss? Any reasonable person who looked at SALF and the Melongo case would walk away with more questions than answers.
According to a friend of hers, for the first time in 18 months, last night Annabel Melongo didn't sleep in a jail cell.

8/31/11 defense motion to mandate house arrest for Annabel Melongo

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top political consulting firm advocates humane treatment for animals while driving major campaigns against human rights for gay Americans

source: Campaign Solutions

UPDATE, 10/19/11: In response to my e-mail this morning, I just received this from Elisabeth Jennings, Executive Director of Animal Protection of New Mexico:
We are not and never have been clients of Campaign Solutions. They proposed working with us to develop online fundraising for our non-profit, but we decided not to engage in a business relationship with them.
I'm doing follow-ups in order to attempt to determine why, per this screenshot, Campaign Solutions claims her organization is a client of CS staffer Anthony Bellotti.


Campaign Solutions, arguably the country's leading conservative political consulting firm, counts among its clients brand name anti-gay politicos and spearheads big-money ballot initiatives to deny equal rights to gay Americans.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Alexandria, VA-based company also carries the ball for high-profile animal rights groups like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a DC organization that touts its relationships with prominent members of the gay community including Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ellen DeGeneres.

PCRM is one of three pro-animal organizations that Campaign Solutions names as clients. The others are Animal Protection of New Mexico, based in Albuquerque, and the American Anti-Vivisection Society of Jenkintown, PA, whose website states:
Founded in 1883, the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) is the first non-profit animal advocacy and educational organization in the United States dedicated to ending experimentation on animals in research, testing, and education. AAVS also opposes and works to end other forms of cruelty to animals.
Per George Orwell, some animals are more equal than others. Especially political animals.

According to their website, "Campaign Solutions invented online fundraising for political and public affairs campaigns. We've raised more online money for Republican candidates, ballot initiatives, non-profit organizations, and public affairs clients than any consulting firm in history."

Here's one of those candidates:

Source: Campaign Solutions portfolio

Here's another name on the CS client roster:

Campaign Solutions also proudly takes credit for California's "Yes on Proposition 8" ballot measure and Maine’s version, "Yes on 1 - The People's Veto of Same Sex Marriage":

Source: Campaign Solutions portfolio

Another valued client: Rev. Louis Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition, which for decades has campaigned against what it calls "the homosexual agenda."

I guess some agendas are more equal than others. They definitely pay better.

And when it comes to the agenda of attracting clients from the animal rights community, if this ain't Campaign Solutions' boy wonder, then I'm a monkey's uncle:

source: Campaign Solutions

From his Facebook, here's Mr. Bellotti posing with an alleged war criminal.

PCRM, the Anti-Vivisection Society (which, speaking of Orwell, sounds like something from 1984), and Animal Protection of New Mexico must be paying Campaign Solutions a pretty penny. Are we to believe these established, savvy nonprofits are unaware of the company's political profile? "Well, we never looked at their brochures, client list, or website..."

What about supporters of these organizations? Would they pleased to learn that their donations are paying Mr. Bellotti's salary?

And what would high-profile gay public figures think about being one degree of separation away from Mr. Bellotti and his agenda?

Marlon Reis and his partner, Rep. Jared Polis (source)
This congressman, for instance. According to PCRM:
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., has just agreed to sponsor our bill to include vegetarian options and a dairy alternative beverage in school lunch programs.
What about Ellen DeGeneres, shown here accepting PCRM's "Voice of Compassion" award from the organization's founder/president, Neal Barnard MD?

For a possible follow-up, here's my agenda.

I'll send this item with requests for comment to some of the above players and see what kind of responses I get.

my 10/19/11 inquiry to three animal rights groups

Contrary to Campaign Solutions' claim, Animal Protection of New Mexico says they've never been a CS client

Thursday, October 13, 2011

University of Washington researcher Stephan Guyenet withdraws 'Food Reward Trial' after complaint to school's Human Subjects Division re: lack of institutional review board (IRB) oversight

Last month I was contacted by a chum who has followed my efforts to bring to public attention the Heimlich Institute's illicit (and apparently illegal) human experiments on AIDS patients in Africa.

My chum told me about an internet dust-up that had been going on at blogs and websites that follow nutrition science, a subject about which I have no expertise or interest. (Full disclosure: I consume food.)

According to said chum, a researcher at the University of Washington named Stephan Guyenet was planning a human study looking into what causes obesity, but it was apparently terminated for unknown reasons.

"Well," I responded. "If you want to learn more, since the school's a public institution, why not submit a public records request?"

The chum then presented the following reasoned response.

"I don't want to. Would you do it?"

Not a surprise. Chum has a history of trying to persuade me to do tasks. I usually don't bite, but this was a simple chore that might result in an easy blog item.

So I asked the U of W to provide "any and all related records including but not limited to the proposed study."

Here's what I received:

For ease of comprehension (there are a lot of duplicate e-mails), I copied and re-formatted them in chronological order. Some didn't have complete headers, but they were all dated so here's what I came up with. (I don't think I made any goofs, but if I did, send me an e-mail and I'll repair. Want copies with the full headers? Submit your own $%#@& records request. To download a pdf of both versions, click here.)

Long story short, on September 5, someone by the name of Francis Pomeroy e-mailed Wendy S. Brown RN, Assistant Director of U-Dub's Human Subjects Division.

Over the next few days, Ms. Brown engaged in a cordial e-mail exchange with Dr. Guyenet and Noella A. Rawlings who, according to this web page, is an attorney who represents the school in matters that include human subjects research.

On September 8, Dr. Guyenet informed Ms. Brown: 
I have decided to end my participation in this study and advise my collaborators not to undertake it. There is no way for me to obtain IRB approval without my mentor, who understandably is not interested in doing this study. In retrospect, there are a number of problems with this idea that I didn't understand at the time. As I said before, I am 100% committed to upholding my responsibilities to the UW and to the NIH. I appreciate you helping me with this.
Based on the e-mails, my understanding is that Dr. Guyenet's mentor is professor of medicine Michael W. Schwartz MD.

So who is Francis Pomeroy? A quick Google of his name and e-mail address didn't yield any clues, so it may be a pseudonym.

No, it's not me. Years ago I used a pseud to drop a dime to UCLA's Office of Human Subjects Protection about the Heimlich AIDS experiments in China which resulted in a bunch of news reports, but I had nothing to do with this.

Anyway, in search of an easy follow-up, I'm e-mailing this item to Francis Pomeroy. If anything interesting comes back, I'll post an update.

UPDATE, 11am EST: 15 minutes ago I sent an e-mail to and this bounced back:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Haunted by his ties to tainted nonprofit, Education Secretary Arne Duncan ignores questions about $174,000 "phantom" program he arranged for the group

In June I reported about an inquiry from Michael P. Goldenberg of Ann Arbor, MI, to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Goldenberg had questions about a $174,000 contract Duncan arranged when he ran the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

The money was awarded to the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) a Chicago-area nonprofit. Now under investigation by federal and state agencies, SALF has been the subject of dozens of mainstream media exposes, starting with a November 2006 barnburner by ABC7 Chicago that included an interview with Duncan:
One of Illinois' highest profile charities teaches the Heimlich maneuver to children while maneuvering the truth to get money from government and big business.
It's called the Save-A-Life Foundation and is known across Illinois as an organization that teaches schoolchildren how to respond in emergencies. For the past few years, Save-A-Life has received millions of dollars in government funds and corporate donations. An ABC7 I-Team investigation has uncovered a series of misleading claims and deceptive credentials that raise doubts about Save-A-Life's integrity, funding and training.

Save-A-Life officials say they have taught the Heimlich maneuver and other first aid techniques to more than 1 million schoolchildren since 1995. They claim to have taught nearly 70,000 children how to save a life in the Chicago Public Schools this year alone.

On the Save-A-Life website, the organization promotes itself with a cartoon character of Schools' CEO Arne Duncan, who acts as an animated pitchman.

...Schools CEO Arne Duncan says it seems unlikely that (the) organization could have taught the number of students they claim.

With a developing mess that may involve President Obama - the Huffington Post reported that he was "close" to SALF, an allegation for which a White House press officer has promised me a response - you might think Duncan would provide a prompt and unequivocal denial.

But four months after Goldenberg's letter, the Ed Sec hasn't made a peep.

Gerald W. Bracey, 1940-2009
Instead, evasive, play-dumb e-mails from a Department of Education Communications Director seem to bolster concerns raised two years ago by the late education critic Jerry Bracey in his final column, The Skeleton in Arne Duncan's Closet.
Halloween season is an appropriate time to talk about rattling skeletons in the closet. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appears to have a noisy one dating from his years running the Chicago Public Schools.

Her name is Carol J. Spizzirri.

A little background. Spizzirri is a convicted shoplifter. According to a sworn affidavit by her ex-husband, a court ordered psychological evaluation diagnosed her as a paranoid schizophrenic and pathological liar. Spizzirri claimed to be a registered nurse and a renal specialist. Her alma mater, now defunct, denied giving her an RN and reportedly she has never been a registered nurse in either Wisconsin or Illinois, as she had claimed. One of her daughters filed a protective order against her because of alleged abuse.
From Where Did the Save-A-Life Money Go? by Don Bauder, San Diego Reader, November 17, 2010:
Arne Duncan, then the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, now United States Secretary of Education, had lauded what the foundation was doing for the schools and effused, "Carol [Spizzirri] is one of my heroes."
Here's his hero storming out mid-interview when ABC7 I-Team reporter Chuck Goudie challenged claims made in SALF's fundraising and promotional materials about the Labor Day 1992 death of her 18-year-old daughter, Christina Pratt:

Shortly before her death, the girl filed a protective order against her mother who she claimed had struck her "on several occasions and threatened her on many occasions."

Via the Chicago Tribune:
(SALF founder/president Carol) Spizzirri launched a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children emergency response techniques, raising at least $8.6 million in federal and state grants for her Save-A-Life Foundation...(Spizzirri) estimates 2 million children took the classes, many of them from the Chicago Public Schools.
However, in response to a federal court subpoena and public records requests, CPS can't produce any training records.

SALF's now under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General and by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC awarded SALF about $3.33 million, money that SALF told the CDC was used to train public school students in Chicago and Milwaukee. But the Milwaukee Schools don't have any records either.

According to a letter from the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC is supposed to be looking into the role of Douglas R. Browne, a CDC Deputy Director who moonlighted as SALF's Corporate Treasurer according to an article in The Hill.

Duncan arranged a two-year contract with Spizzirri in which her organization was supposed to provide first aid training for 18,000 students during school years 2004/05 and 2005/06. Duncan signed off on $49,000 from the CPS coffers and Ronald McDonald House Charities kicked in another $125,000, a total of $174,000 handed to SALF.

Arne Duncan, Carol J. Spizzirri, and you-know-who (circa 2005)
But like I said, CPS has no records for the program. Further, in response to a public records request I filed for all training records associated with SALF's phantom CPS/McDonald's program, CPS handed the dirty diaper to Duncan:
The Chicago Public Schools does not have any responsive documents to your April 29, 2011 request. The schools who received training from the Save A Life Foundation were selected by members of the former CPS Chief Education Officer’s Office.
Which brings us back to Michael Goldenberg's inquiry.

Michael P. Goldenberg
Goldenberg, who's spent his career in public education, posted his letter to Arne on his blog and included a link to my web page, Did Arne Duncan unknowingly help a bogus nonprofit rip off $174,000 from the Chicago Schools & McDonald's Charities?

Goldenberg wanted to know if the former Chief Education Officer of the Chicago Schools thought the current Inspector General of the Chicago Schools should investigate the $174,000 contract Duncan arranged for SALF. In a follow-up, Goldenberg asked if Duncan had a financial relationship with SALF.

Answering those questions should be easy dunks for a White House cabinet member and a former basketball pro.

Apparently not. After months of promises and foot-dragging by Duncan's office, Goldenberg received this non-answer:
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 15:35:49 -0500
From: "Dorfman, Cynthia" <>
Subject: Your letter to Secretary Duncan
To: "" <>

Dear Mr. Goldenberg,

We received your letter to Secretary Duncan regarding the SALF program in Chicago Public Schools. Since the Secretary is no longer affiliated with the school system in Chicago, your best source of information is the school system itself. They would have all the records and data.

Cynthia Dorfman
Director of Regional Communications and Outreach 
Goldenberg copied me on his correspondence and since he was being sandbagged, I thought I'd give it a go. From the e-mail I sent last week to Ms. Dorfman:
(On my blog) I intend to report that Mr. Duncan and you would not answer any of Mr. Goldenberg's questions including whether or not Mr. Duncan had a financial relationship with SALF. If you wish to dispute that characterization and/or provide further information or clarification, please get back to me no later than Wednesday, October 5.
It took a couple of phone messages and follow-up e-mails for her to finally send me this piffle:
Mr. Heimlich, I was (sic) responding to your emails and voice mail to let you know that I don't have any information about this issue.
But I don't fault Ms. Dorfman.

She's just stuck with the crummy task of having to cover for a boss who apparently doesn't want anyone going into his basement where - if you listen - you might hear a $174,000 skeleton moaning and rattling its chains.

"Dear Arne" letter from Carol Spizzirri + grant request for year 2 of SALF's CPS/McDonald's program

"Dear Carol" letter from Arne Duncan approving year 2 of SALF/Ronald McDonald House program