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Texas Congressman Ron Paul left the House of Representatives at the end of 1984 deeply in debt, owing $765,000 to various creditors, some of whom threatened to take him to court.
His ill-fated and unsuccessful run for the Senate in 1984 didn’t help his precarious financial situation. He needed to make money and make it fast.
So with the help of his former chief of staff, Lew Rockwell, Paul hit upon a quick money-making scheme: A series of racially-provocative newsletters published under his name.
Paul wrote the economic themes of the newsletters, capitalizing on fear of government, hatred of the Internal Revenue Service and investment in commodities. Rockwell wrote the more provocative parts with racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic overtones.
In 10 years, the $100 a year subscription newsletters not only wiped out the Texas doctor’s staggering debts, but left him with a net worth of $3.3 million. That net worth would continue to grow.
How did he do it? By targeting the newsletters to racists, anti-Semitics and others who were willing to pay to read such material. He once bragged to Ed Crane, president of the CATO institute that he sold the most subscriptions by using the mailing list of The Spotlight, a now-defunct white supremacist newspaper that openly advocated racism and claimed the Holocaust never happened.
And while Paul now claims he never saw the racially-charged material, more former insiders from the newsletter publishing company have come forward to say he was closely-involved not only in the decision to go the provocative route but read and personally approved the content.
Ranae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company, and still a supporter, told The :
It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product…He would proof it.
One of those involved in Paul’s business, who insists on anonymity, tells Capitol Hill Blue:
You have to realize there are two Ron Paul. One is the gentle, kind doctor who says he stands for freedom, the Constitution and individual rights and then there’s the other: The opportunist who knows how to play on base fears and ignorance to make money.
One of those involved in Paul’s business also told The Post:
It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government. I’m not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman.
The “shrewd businessman” who once faced a six-figure debt now reports a net worth of more than $5 million and that figure does not include his wealthy foundation — initially bankrolled by leftover funds from two previous failed Presidential campaigns — run by him and his family.
Paul formed Ron Paul & Associates while deeply in debt in 1984. He dissolved the company in 2001, five years after returning to Congress, after it — and the provocative, money-making newsletters it published — served a singular purpose: Make him a wealthy man.
Ron Paul & Associates was mostly a family operation. He served as president, his wife as secretary, his daughter as treasurer and Rockwell as vice president. His family members serve in similar positions today in his foundation and while Rockwell has no official title in Paul’s operations, aides say the two are still “very close.”
Eric Dondero Rittberg, a former Paul aide that the Congressman’s Presidential campaign try to discredit as a “disgruntled former employee who was fired,” says he often saw Paul proofing, editing and signing off on the newsletters, all of which bore his name with articles often written in first person.
“The real big money came from of that racially-tinged stuff,” says Dondero Rittberg, who also claims he resigned from Paul’s staff because he disagreed with the Congressman’s postiion on the Iraq war.
Hathway told The Post that Paul was a “hands-on boss” at Ron Paul & Associates and was closely involved in all aspects of the operation. The newsletters, which she said had “tons of subscriber,” also featured large ads from Ron Paul Precious Metals & Rare Coins, another Paul enterprise which sold gold and silver coins.
Paul, she said, was always looking for ways to make money.