In August of 1968 a fascinating exchange took place on television. Gore Vidal called William F. Buckley a “crypto-Nazi” and Buckley retorted “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddamned face and you’ll stay plastered.” Buckley later apologized for calling Vidal a “queer” in a burst of anger rather than a clinical context and there were libel suits all around. Buckley ended up the winner, in terms of attorney’s fees covered and a public apology. The reason why? Buckley wasn’t a Nazi but Vidal was a “queer”, a derogatory term to be sure, but ultimately, accurate.
Let’s take a look at what is defamation and what is merely derogatory. Let’s also consider, given the current tempest in a teapot over almostinnocentbystander, what constitutes an assertion, and just what constitutes a question. That also counts in a defamation suit, or it should. If a sentence asks a question and ends in a question mark (or three), it’s a question. Defamation is an assertion of a known falsehood. So was the question “Is that the missing $10,000 from Kootenai County Central Committee funds actually stuffed inside Tina’s blouse???” an assertion? Nope. It was a sarcastic, facetious query meant to highlight a well-known problem in a venue big enough that Tina Jacobson could not stifle it due to loyalty or intimidation.
The question was definitely derogatory. That’s why I apologized on the same site where the comment was briefly posted. Yet the real issue was whether that question was justified. Was it accurate? If a child is out of sight and not in a location where it can be located and this goes on for a lengthy period of time, then that child is frequently referred to as ‘missing’.
Now we must ask was the money missing? I did not say it was ‘stolen’, I just called it missing. Why did I do that? Well, fact checkers should know that Tina was overseeing disbursements from the account of a non-profit organization and she would not allow members of her executive board to know where the funds were going. The executive board had deep concerns regarding the whereabouts of club funds. So when they asked to see the records, the response was “ Since the KCRCC is currently very busy with the presidential caucus, Lincoln Day and the primary we will not be able [to] accommodate you until after May 15th.” (email from Tina Jacobson dated 2/10/12) The request for open accounting of disbursal of club funds was made February 8, 2012. Madame Chair would not acquiesce until May 15th. What’s magical about that date? Perhaps she wouldn’t be so busy, or perhaps a vote would be taking place where the offensively inquisitive member of the executive board could be replaced with someone more loyal and compliant, and the question would never be raised again.
You see, Tina doesn’t like questions. This is clear from the fact that she has filed a lawsuit over a question posted on a blog. So why did I pose such a confrontational question in a public venue? I’ve known Tina Jacobson by reputation for many years and it’s just not a good idea to go poking Mama Bear. The recent ‘proxy-gate’ is proof enough. When a proxy vote she did not like was presented at a Central Committee meeting, a private investigator was hired, the police were summoned (they didn’t find anything wrong) and the county prosecutor was pressured to start an investigation. After several weeks, the answer came “nothing to see here.” Now if she’d call the police over a vote, she would certainly file suit over an insult.
So why exactly would someone desire to post an anonymous inquiry/comment about a peach like that? What could possibly be the ramifications of attempting to break through the obstruction and shed a little light on the whereabouts of money from a non-profit bank account? Tina has the personality of a blunt force instrument. You can quote me on that, I’m the one who coined it and sat in the audience of the Central Committee when she repeated that phrase and proclaimed “So be it!”
So I pretty much knew what I was getting into by having the temerity to ask the question that has been on so many lips since 2010. The truth is, it’s not like I’ve let some big ‘ol cat out of the bag. Many outstanding members of this community who are Republicans have been troubled and curious about the machinations of the Kootenai County Central Committee after the reins had been handed from Brad Corkill to Tina Jacobson. Brad has gone on the record as stating that at the time he stepped down as Chairman and she stepped up, the account of the club held approximately $18,000. 2010 was an election year and the clear understanding was that a great proportion of those funds would be dispersed to local candidates. Two candidates, the county coroner and the county clerk, each received $250.00 from the central committee. So the question was being asked back in 2010 . . . “Where did the money go?”
This particular emperor has been parading around with naked ambition and unbridled actions and it’s about time that someone stood up and proclaimed the emperor has no clothes. Are the Republicans willing to allow their party to become a vehicle of oppression and intimidation run by an authoritarian mindset that casts aside by-laws and any vestiges of restraint? Yes, I said by-laws. The rules of the club mandate that disbursements in excess of $500.00 be voted on by the club. How then, did $964.20 get disbursed directly to Tina Jacobson on March 5, 2012? Was that voted on? What was it used for? The notation on the Sunshine Report says ‘Newspaper & Other Periodical Advertising’. I did not know that Tina Jacobson was a newspaper or advertising outlet. You see, I’m still asking questions.
Tina Jacobson has a managerial manner that isn’t exactly light handed, she will not tolerate dissent or inquiry and now, like it or not, she has the authority of the court in the pursuit of any who will question her. Methinks she doth protest too much. So I’ll end with, should she be given that power? The 1st Amendment was created with the idea that concerned citizens should be able to raise questions about issues of public interest without fear of reprisals. Does the court care? Does anyone?
LINDA COOK, aka AIB