“Is Glenn Beck finished?” is the headline over an article on a left-wing website, insisting that a campaign against Beck’s Fox News Channel program has cost him 36 advertisers and that his show may be cancelled as a result. The campaign against Beck is being waged by a group called Color of Change, whose co-founder, Van Jones, is now Obama’s green-jobs czar.
Not coincidentally, Beck has repeatedly singled out Van Jones for criticism, citing evidence of his communist past. The source of this evidence is New Zealand blogger Trevor Loudon, the same researcher who originally unearthed the fact that Obama’s mysterious mentor “Frank” in Obama’s book Dreams from My Father was Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis.
We confirmed that identification with a separate source and ran with the story last year, even obtaining the 600-page FBI file on Davis. It also came out that Davis was a sex pervert, doper, and pornographer.
The Obama campaign eventually confirmed Frank’s identity but tried to play down his relationship with Obama. Most media gave the scandal a ho-hum.
Trevor Loudon, who deserves far more credit than he gets for smoking out the communists in and around the Obama Administration, broke the Van Jones story back on April 6 and has run several follow-ups. Among other things, he revealed that Jones was a leading member of a Marxist organization known by the acronym STORM, which means Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement. A 96-page history of the organization mentions how several STORM members had traveled to Cuba in the summer of 1999 as part of the Venceremos Brigade. This is the group that was originally sponsored by the Castro regime and the Weather Underground.
To add to the mystery, it turns out that “Van” Jones is not even his real name. His real first name is Anthony; he says he changed it because “Van” sounded cool. Various accounts say that he has been arrested twice.
Aaron Klein of World Net Daily then wrote a story on Jones, citing Loudon’s work. Since then, Beck and others have seized on it. Now, some more of this fascinating story can be told. I have been engaged for months in a series of Freedom of Information Act requests with the Obama Administration for information about Jones and how he was hired.
It seems clear that Jones has undergone, with powerful sponsors and benefactors, an extreme makeover. Beck, to his credit, is trying to peel away the protective cover. He needs our support to remain on the air and pursue this story. The trail will most certainly lead beyond Jones himself.
Who Wrote His Book?
Whatever his real name, he was praised by actor Leonardo DiCaprio in an April 30, 2009, Time magazine article as someone who is “redefining green.” This is one of several sympathetic stories about him.
His book, The Green Collar Economy, includes only the name of “Van Jones” as the author on the cover. But it appears that the book was largely written by Ariane Conrad, an activist and writer whose name appears on the inside, as in, by “Van Jones, with Ariane Conrad.” The use of “with” is morally obligatory and suggests that she helped out in some way with the actual writing.
She says on her blog that she “helped Van write his first, New York Times-bestselling book” and describes herself as someone who has “specialized in working collaboratively with authors, especially first-timers, to produce non-fiction books.”
However, the Jones book relies on discredited “experts” such as Rachel Carson and Paul Ehrlich, who exaggerated environmental dangers and ushered in stronger government controls and regulations. The book denounces the “Indian-killing Teddy Roosevelt,” nuclear power, and the Iraq War and, sounding like Obama, Jones says that “we will have to fundamentally restructure the U.S. economy.” He urges a new global warming treaty.
Ironically, the book was published by Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins, a division of the same company, News Corporation, which now employs Glenn Beck. The foreword to the Jones book by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. describes his revolutionary plans for a “brave new world” and proclaims, “Let the revolution begin.”
In addition to being one of Ariane Conrad’s successful “first-timers,” Van Jones’ meteoric rise was assisted by many different liberal-left foundations, including the Open Society Institute of George Soros, which helped finance his “Green for All” organization. His book includes endorsements from Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, TV host Tavis Smiley, former Senator Tom Daschle, Arianna Huffington, and Larry Brilliant of Google.
The Ella Baker Center
I visited one of his organizations in Oakland, California, the Ella Baker Center, and discovered a photograph of Communist Angela Davis on the first floor. Ella Baker worked with Communists such as Anne Braden. This fact is noted on the official Baker bio distributed by the organization named in her honor. They are proud of this fact, although they claim that “she had mixed feelings about communism” and only embraced socialism “as a more humane alternative to capitalism.”
Jones shows up on a list of “veteran activists” attending a conference in the summer of 1998 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the same place where Bill Ayers is now a professor. The purpose was to plot the “Black Liberation Agenda for the 21st Century” under the auspices of the Black Radical Congress. Angela Davis participated and the Communist Party USA helped organize the event.
One of Jones’ sons is named Cabral, in honor of Amilcar Cabral, the African Marxist who spoke to Castro’s Tricontinental Congress in 1966 and concluded with these words: “Our wish is that every national liberation movement represented here may be able to repeat in its own country, arms in hand, in unison with its people, the already legendary cry of Cuba: Patria O Muerte, Venceremos! Death to the Forces of Imperialism! Free, Prosperous and Happy Country for Each of our Peoples! Venceremos!”
The Obama transition project developed a seven-page questionnaire that included 63 questions about an applicant’s background and qualifications for a federal job. The document was supposedly for “every candidate for Cabinet and other high-ranking positions in the incoming administration,” as CNN put it. But there is no indication at this point that Van Jones ever filled out such a form. At the very least, it can be said that I have not been able to obtain a copy of it-and I have asked for any such document.
I have been engaged for months in a series of communications with the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ), where Jones works, in an attempt to discover who hired Jones and why, and what was known about Jones when he was appointed. I have had to resort to using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on several occasions to attempt to get answers. But the answers have not been satisfactory.
However, there is every reason to believe, in this case, that where there is smoke, there is fire. The still-untold story is where the Van Jones trail leads. It obviously leads to the White House. But to whom?
Definitive answers will require that the media stop running puff pieces about Jones and start investigating his background. Glenn Beck should not carry this load alone.
On Fox News, Glenn Beck has raised the question of who “vetted” Van Jones for a job and whether the FBI was bypassed. This is a legitimate area of inquiry. But if Beck’s show is forced off the air, because of advertiser pressure, Jones and his patrons in the White House will have won. And freedom of information and transparency in government will be the losers.
I haven’t reported the answers to my queries until now. But since Glenn Beck’s show could rise or fall, depending on the outcome of his battle with Jones, I believe what is known, or is not known, should now be put on the record. It is clear that Beck is on the right track and he deserves enormous credit for tackling this important story. It may be as important as the Frank Marshall Davis scandal.
What remains to be determined is what personal relationship, if any, there is between Jones and Obama. If Obama didn’t select him for a post in the administration, who did?
I began this quest, after Trevor Loudon and World Net Daily ran their stories, with telephone calls and emails to Van Jones himself, his assistant and the press representative for the CEQ. None of these calls or emails was returned.
The Start of the FOIA Requests
My first FOIA request, filed on April 15, consisted of the following:
“Under the Freedom of Information Act, I request immediate access to all documents, memoranda, emails, and information relating to the appointment of Van Jones to the White House Council on Environmental Quality as ‘Special Adviser for Green Jobs.’ The request should include all copies of any information, including a biography and CV, submitted in advance to the Obama Administration by Mr. Jones.”
On April 16, Edward A. Boling, General Counsel and Chief Freedom of Information Officer for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), replied that “CEQ searched its records system and found none responsive to your request.” He added, “We suggest that you contact the White House Office of the Press Secretary.”
Doesn’t this seem strange? A group where someone works knows almost nothing about the person?
The Jones appointment was announced on March 10 by Nancy Sutley, chair of the CEQ, who declared that “Van Jones has been a strong voice for green jobs and we look forward to having him work with departments and agencies to advance the President’s agenda of creating 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources. Jones will also help to shape and advance the Administration’s energy and climate initiatives with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities.”
The announcement carried a short bio of Jones. It said, “Jones is the founder of Green For All, a national organization that promotes an inclusive green economy, strong enough to lift people out of poverty. He is also the co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change, two highly innovative social justice organizations. A 1993 Yale Law School graduate, Jones is the author of the 2008 New York Times best-seller, The Green Collar Economy.”
Notice that nothing was said about Jones working with STORM. This bio was all that the CEQ would give me about Jones.
On April 27, I sent a FOIA request to the office of the White House press secretary. It said:
“Under the Freedom of Information Act, I request immediate access to all documents, memoranda, emails, and information relating to the appointment of Van Jones to the White House Council on Environmental Quality as ‘Special Adviser for Green Jobs.’ The request should include all copies of any information, including a biography and CV, submitted in advance to the Obama Administration by Mr. Jones.
“This FOIA request is being directed to the White House Office of the Press Secretary at the direction of the General Counsel and Chief Freedom of Information Officer of the Council on Environmental Quality, who informs me that the CEQ found no records responsive to my request.
“President Barack Obama has declared, ‘All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.’
“I look forward to your immediate response and disclosure of documents.”
I have not received any response to this letter.
So let’s recap: the CEQ knows almost nothing about how Jones was hired and by whom. And it suggests I contact the White House Office of the Press Secretary, which I do. But it simply ignores my request.
How’s this for transparency in government? What is the purpose of this stonewalling? Clearly, somebody is hiding something.
On May 8, I filed another FOIA request with the CEQ, asking:
“Was Van Jones ever affiliated with or a member of a group known as STORM, which means ‘Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement?’
“If not, what action has he taken to eliminate documented references to his involvement with STORM that have surfaced in various news reports?
“Was CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley aware of Mr. Jones’ reported involvement with STORM prior to his appointment to the CEQ?
“Who made the appointment of Mr. Jones to the CEQ and what form did that take in communication with Chairman Sutley?”
General Counsel Boling told me that “CEQ has no documents responsive to your request. Moreover, FOIA does not require CEQ to develop a document responding to these questions.”
When I subsequently filed a FOIA request to determine how they handled my other FOIA requests, I learned that Elizabeth Moss, Christine M. Glunz, and Edward A. Boling of the CEQ simply exchanged emails wondering if there were “any documents that are responsive to this request” and noting that “FOIA does not require the creation of new records.” This is how stonewalling occurs, despite Obama’s promise to make information available through the FOIA. Bureaucrats exchange emails for the purpose of trying to find a way to be unresponsive.
While waiting for “answers” to my FOIA requests, I researched the name Christine Glunz, who functions as Jones’ mouthpiece and sidekick, and found that the same name appears on a list of press people for disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich. A release says that one “Christine Glunz” was a press contact for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) under Blagojevich. According to another article, her sister was “director of policy” for Blagojevich.
I reached Ms. Glunz by telephone, identified myself, and asked how long she worked for Blagojevich. “Who’s calling?” she said. I identified myself again and asked how long she had worked for the Illinois Governor. “Sir, what’s your number?” She said she was in a meeting and would have to call me back.
I suppose I will have to file another FOIA request to see if it is the same person.
Another bio for Christine Glunz says that she worked as communications director for the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign in Missouri in 2004, press secretary to Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, deputy communications director on Democratic Senator Jean Carnahan’s 2002 campaign, and White House Intern in Vice President Al Gore’s press office and then on staff as the Special Assistant to the Director of Communications.
In response to Glenn Beck’s investigation of Van Jones, Glunz has been quoted as saying that Jones is an environmental hero and that his focus is on “building clean energy incentives, which create 21st century jobs.”
But how did Jones get HIS job?
Glenn Beck deserves enormous credit for trying to answer this question. He should not be forced off the air for trying to get answers.
Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.