Frank VanderSloot is the CEO of Melaleuca Inc. The 63-year-old has run that wellness-products company for 26 years out of tiny Idaho Falls, Idaho. Last August, Mr. VanderSloot gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC that supports Mitt Romney.
Three weeks ago, an Obama campaign website, “Keeping GOP Honest,” took the extraordinary step of publicly naming and assailing eight private citizens backing Mr. Romney. Titled “Behind the curtain: a brief history of Romney’s donors,” the post accused the eight of being “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.” Mr. VanderSloot was one of the eight, smeared particularly as being “litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”
And just for exercising his right to donate to the candidate of his choice, now shady people are digging into his past:
About a week after that post, a man named Michael Wolf contacted the Bonneville County Courthouse in Idaho Falls in search of court records regarding Mr. VanderSloot. Specifically, Mr. Wolf wanted all the documents dealing with Mr. VanderSloot’s divorces, as well as a case involving a dispute with a former Melaleuca employee.
Mr. Wolf sent a fax to the clerk’s office—which I have obtained—listing four cases he was after. He would later send a second fax, asking for three further court cases dealing with either Melaleuca or Mr. VanderSloot. Mr. Wolf listed only his name and a private cellphone number.
Okay, let’s give Mr. Wolf the benefit of the doubt here. This could be completely unconnected from Mr. VanderSloot’s donation.
Some digging revealed that Mr. Wolf was, until a few months ago, a law clerk on the Democratic side of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He’s found new work. The ID written out at the top of his faxes identified them as coming from “Glenn Simpson.” That’s the name of a former Wall Street Journal reporter who in 2009 founded a D.C. company that performs private investigative work.
The website for that company, Fusion GPS, describes itself as providing “strategic intelligence,” with expertise in areas like “politics.” That’s a polite way of saying “opposition research.”
And to make matters worse, the company is avoiding questions from reporters:
Fusion dodged my calls, so I couldn’t ask who was paying it to troll through Mr. VanderSloot’s divorce records. Mr. Simpson finally sent an email stating: “Frank VanderSloot is a figure of interest in the debate over civil rights for gay Americans. As his own record on gay issues amply demonstrates, he is a legitimate subject of public records research into his lengthy history of legal disputes.”
One wonders what the gay-rights crowd would say if some conservative organization started digging into the legal records of their donors. I expect you’d be able to hear the screams of outrage out in space. But it’s perfectly okay with them for a donor to a Republican to have all his dirty laundry aired in public.
Welcome to Obama’s America, soon to be renamed Oceania. Mr. Orwell would be so proud.