UPDATED 4:51 P.M. EDT (U.S.A.)
It is getting stranger and stranger. As we noted previously, we have arrived at the conclusion that meaningful communication with Bob Guenther, the de facto head of the ASD Members Business Association (ASDMBA) Trust, is not possible.
We now have received an email from Guenther that appears that have been sent to us accidentally by pressing “Reply” instead of “Forward.” You’ll read more about this email below.
Last week we advised you that we no longer would respond the Guenther’s emails — including 11 he sent on a single day, some or all of which asked for a receipt. Much of the information Guenther sent was not new to us. Regardless, we still were digesting it when we received more emails from Guenther, apparently unhappy that we did not publish his information immediately.
At the same time, we noted that Guenther was free to post Comments on this Blog.
Guenther did so over the past couple of days, challenging us to a “war” of some sort and threatening to send an email to the ASDMBA membership that suggested we were “Possibly a ASD winner!!!”
We were not members of ASD, let alone an ASD “winner.” We also were not members of ASDMBA. We have no stake in the outcome, no matter what happens to ASD or ASDMBA. We are journalists.
At the same time, many of our readers know that Guenther has used invitations to engage in “war” or issued declarations of “war” elsewhere. Use of such language is alarming. It simply is not a legitimate way to communicate. It demonstrates an utter lack of restraint.
In recent weeks we have received a number of communications from Guenther we deem threatening — and this while Guenther is facing felony charges in Arizona amid allegations he violated a court order repeatedly and continued to threaten an Arizona company even after being warned not to do so.
“You want a war, there Patrick, you got one..,” Guenther commented here Saturday. “Print the truth, get off the ASDMBA or start a war.. Your Choiceâ€¦”
A “war” if we don’t “get off” ASDMBA?
How does one not deem such words a threat? How does one not deem such words as a bid to silence this Blog’s reporting on ASDMBA?
Good grief. It is almost too much to believe.
This stuff is over-the-top by orders of magnitude. It is unnatural, and is the very definition of menacing conduct. It is the exact type of behavior that resulted in the issuance of the Arizona restraining order. It also is the exact type of behavior that caused ASDMBA members to question Guenther’s handling of the Trust.
And yet the behavior continues.
Guenther appears to be a champion of the Larry Friedman lawsuit against Jack Arons for slander and libel. At the same time, however, Guenther is using this Blog’s Comments function to say he he’s thinking about using the ASDMBA database to tell members we might have been ASD winners — a threat that is almost indescribably bizarre because it suggests a willingness to extort us with a viral lie.
It’s not even a clever extortion attempt. If Guenther were to tell members of ASDMBA that we were “winners” in ASD, it would serve only to prove that Guenther is willing to lie to extract an impossible result. The only person he’d be extorting is himself.
Bob Guenther also appears to hold the twin notions that we are covering up for both the government and ASD. There is no way to reconcile these notions, which are impossibly at odds with themselves.
We don’t charge for the information contained on this Blog. We don’t solicit or accept donations. We don’t ask for permission from either side in the ASD case to publish news and opinion on ASD. We don’t share our findings privately with the government. We publish information on a schedule we dictate. The government can read it. ASD members can read it. Non-ASD members can read it. Members of the public can read it.
We gather information from sources on all sides of the ASD case, assess it — and publish news and opinion. Readers are free to make their own assessments about what we publish.
We have no interest in Guenther’s “war.” Our interest is in delivering news and opinion. The ASD and ASDMBA stories pose unique challenges. One of them is how to deal with threats and menacing communications from Bob Guenther.
The Mystery Email
Some of you subscribe to our daily feed, which is provided by Google. Google sends the feed to the email inboxes of our subscribers.
Early Sunday we received an email from Guenther to which we did not reply. The email was a response to the Google inbox feed for our Blog post, “Friedman Should Drop Arons’ Lawsuit.” The email asked for a receipt, which we declined to provide.
A note at the top of Guenther’s email was not directed at us. Rather, it was directed to a third party.
Here is what it said:
“When you subscribe to this guy, this is sent out automatically t0 everyone of his subscribers, its now all over the place probably 30 blogs, forums etc..”
It is clear that Guenther was attempting to communicate with a third party. Why we received the communication is unclear. We do not know the identity of the third party. It looks as though Guenther had attempted to “Forward” the email feed to a third party, but instead pressed the “Reply” button, thus sending an email to us.
As you might have read in readers’ Comments here or at the ASD-Biz forum, Dallas attorney Larry Friedman is seeking information from ning.com on people who post about ASDMBA at the ASD-Biz forum. In that Internet-only way, some members of the forum appear to have created new forum names — twists on their old names or twists on how they’ve been described by Guenther — as a means of protesting Friedman’s audacious move.
Friedman wants ning.com to share data — something the Trust, under Guenther’s de facto management, is not willing to do. Guenther, on this Blog, told ASDMBA members that they were going to have to sue to get information from the Trust — but not until after they contacted him and the Trust determined through some unspecified means if the complaint was valid.
And to think all of this might never had happened had Bob Guenther simply provided a detailed accounting on how ASDMBA spent the money it collected from contributors and had the Trust engaged people in meaningful ways.
We see no high principle that would demand Guenther not to provide detailed accounting for a Trust funded by the individual contributions of members. We have conceded that Friedman, who had an attorney-client relationship with the Trust, well could argue that he could not release details about the Trust’s finances owing to the privilege.
At the same time, we pointed out that such an answer — even if principled — could not prevent people from asking questions about the Trust and even filing complaints with authorities. We called on Friedman to fire the Trust as a client.
This story could have been over in a day. Instead it has dragged on for weeks. The questions ASDMBA members have are legitimate.
ASDMBA, through Guenther, started off by saying it was sympathetic to ASD President Andy Bowdoin’s point of view in the ASD case. It then morphed into an organization that was sympathetic to the government’s point of view. After that, it morphed into an organization that openly challenged the prosecutors’ competence. Guenther made a big show on the ASDMBA website of demanding answers from the prosecution during an active investigation.
Finally, Friedman — the Trust lawyer — sued Jack Arons for slander and libel, and now is seeking information from ning.com on people who are asking questions about the Trust.
Perhaps one of the questions Friedman should ask himself is, “Why wouldn’t people ask questions under these bizarre circumstances?”
Many of you are aware of Friedman’s lawsuit against Arons. We have written about this subject at some length, calling for Friedman to drop the lawsuit. We simply don’t see Arons as the party responsible for the flap surrounding ASDMBA or the questions being asked about Friedman.
People were free to complain to Texas authorities about ASDMBA with or without input from Arons. If the government or the Texas bar opens an investigation, they’ll evaluate the issues on the merits of complaints filed by individual ASDMBA members. Jack Arons can’t force any agency to take action. Arons, for example, cannot create a condition that authenticates third-party complaints against Friedman, Guenther or the Trust. Either the complaints have merit or they do not, regardless of any input from Arons on the subject of ASDMBA or Guenther or Friedman.
Even if Arons told 100 people that he thought it would be a good idea to contact authorities about the affairs of the Trust, he cannot make any complaints received by any agency any less or any more valid. That is up to the authorities to decide.
The ASDMBA story has raised issues that speak to the heart of the 1st Amendment. Some members of ASD-Biz also are regular readers of this Blog. They view actions by Friedman as an attempt to chill speech. Given Guenther’s actions — indeed, his name is associated with threats on forums and even in court documents — it’s easy to see how some readers have concluded that speech itself is under attack.
This Blog will not permit Bob Guenther to dictate its editorial policy. As previously noted, we no longer will respond to any of his emails. We do not publish information under threat.