Frank VanderSloot, one of the eight men detailed by the president’s “Truth Team,” is discovering what it means to be on a president's "enemies list."VanderSloot has run a wellness-products company called Melaleuca Inc. out of Idaho Falls, ID, for the last 26 years, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel reports. By all accounts, it’s a healthy and prosperous company -- something of a rarity in this current economy. But that doesn’t matter to certain members of “Team Obama.” VanderSloot gave $1 million to the pro-Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future and that was enough to land him a spot on the enemies list. The eight donors are "wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records" and some of them have even been on the “wrong side of the law,” according to President Obama’s KeepingGOPHonest site.
And as for VanderSloot, he is a "litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement," the site claims.
But that's not all. This is where it starts to get dicey. Strassel gives us details:
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.
Wait -- an anonymous investigator contacted court officials and requested copies of documents dealing with VanderSloot's divorce cases? That sounds familiar.
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."
Although there are no records indicating Fusion or Wolf have been paid by the Democratic National Committee, Strassel notes that “it is not uncommon to hire a less controversial third party, which then hires the researchers.”
Strassel tried contacting Wolf to ask him about his investigation.
"It's a legal thing," is all Wolf would say at first. Later, he sent the Wall Street Journal reporter the following statement in an email:
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.
Well, that's kinda' true. VanderSloot has been a "figure of interest" in the gay-rights debate ever since he became the target of liberal bloggers and activists back in January when the first PAC disclosures were released.
The 63-year old has since addressed these accusations, saying that he has "many gay friends whom I love and respect" and who should "have the same freedoms and rights as any other individual."
But despite his clarification and the rebuttal to his detractors, Team Obama is running with the narrative and accuses the businessman of being a “litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement."
"[W]hen I first learned that President Obama's campaign had singled me out on his 'enemies list,' I knew it was like taping a target on my back," VanderSloot said.
"[But] the public beatings and false accusations that followed are no deterrent. These tactics will not work in America," he said, adding that he's "contemplating a second donation."
This story has been updated.