COEUR d'ALENE - Diamond Cup hydroplane race organizers have publicly bashed Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger more than once for the cancellation of this year's planned event.
But privately they also have taken some shots at allies of the boat races that had been planned for Labor Day weekend, according to a letter emailed late Friday by Diamond Cup president Doug Miller and his right-hand man, Keith Kroetch.
To a large extent, the two pointed fingers at Sam Cole, chairman of H1 Unlimited, the unlimited hydroplane boat racing league. Miller and Kroetch said Cole provided nothing but headaches for the new race organizers.
Part of the problem is what Cole didn't provide, they complained. Cole offered few guidelines, absolutely no financing, no help with media, and no sponsorships, they wrote.
"Sam Cole started an email campaign in January of 2014 in which he notified people outside of the owners of Diamond Cup Unlimited LLC that the company was in arrears (from last year's races) and that he was demanding payment," according to the letter by Miller and Kroetch to H1.
Sam Cole couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday. Steve Montgomery, a spokesman for H1 Unlimited, said Cole and the league's attorney are considering whether to respond to the accusations.
John Magnuson, an attorney for Diamond Cup and Miller, said Monday the permit denial by the sheriff remains the sole reason why there is no race.
The letter was Miller's way of saying H1 needed to change the way it conducts business in the future, Magnuson said.
"We're saying we had some problems with them," Magnuson said Monday. Miller didn't respond to a request for comment.
Miller and Kroetch's letter also accused Cole - and a local supporter of the races, Pat Stroud - of feeding The Press some damaging proprietary and personal financial information about Diamond Cup to hurt Miller and Kroetch's ability to raise outside financing. Kroetch told The Press on Monday that he doesn't support any criticism of Stroud.
Friday, however, they wrote that Stroud - who actually helped with the 2013 Diamond Cup, including loaning Miller $4,000 - told them Cole was personally interested in owning the rights to Diamond Cup.
"The total failure of (Miller) to work with the community officials for requirements of life, safety and otherwise was the reason for the cancellation (announced Friday)," Stroud told The Press on Monday. "The fact that funds could not be raised is a testament to the lack of faith the community had in Doug Miller."
Stroud also called it "preposterous" that Cole wanted part ownership.
"We just want to have another race next year," Stroud said.
The organizers wrote that they were notified by a representative of Inland Northwest Bank in Spokane, which handles the banking activities for Diamond Cup, that Cole had contacted him "in what we believe to be an effort to procure the suspension of ticket sales for the 2014 Labor Day event."
Cole, they alleged, advised the banker that tickets should not be sold for the 2014 race because of Diamond Cup's financial situation.
"Cole made such contacts, we believe, with actual knowledge that he was interfering with our business relationship with both INB and TicketsWest, the event's ticket provider," Miller and Kroetch wrote.
"We are aware that Sam Cole made contact with potential major sponsorship sources in an attempt to gain support for his alternate group of race organizers," Miller and Kroetch wrote. "According to (Craig Brosenne, general manager of Hagadone Marine Group), Cole advised him of his intention to take over the race and asked if the Brosenne's employer (the Hagadone Corp.) was interested in coming on board."
Brosenne, according to Miller and Kroetch, told them the Hagadone group declined. The Press is owned by the Hagadone Corp.
Brosenne couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Thomas J. McNabb, coordinator of the Miss Diamond Cup event, said Saturday he doesn't believe race organizers like Miller are being honest about what prevented the races from happening this year.
"As those who know the workings of the Diamond Cup LLC are well aware, the real reason the 2014 Diamond Cup race had to be canceled is due to the fact that Doug Miller was unwilling to bring in community-minded investors back in November 2013, as Doug decided at the last minute that he didn't want to give up a majority interest in the Diamond Cup," McNabb said.
Herb Huseland, a volunteer who handled media and public relations for Diamond Cup and helped out at the office for the 2013 races, said Miller has mismanaged the event and lost credibility with the public.
"They were never able to fundraise after last year's races," Huseland said Monday. There was too much money owed from 2013.
"People were unwilling to invest in a dead body," he said. But organizers "continued to act like nothing was wrong and they were going to pull this thing off."
He said Miller was not only a bad manager, but also unwilling to accept reality.
Huseland said he holds out hope that the races will return in the future to Lake Coeur d'Alene.
"The community would get behind it more if it wasn't a for-profit thing," Huseland said.