Nor can anything whatsoever from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a private organization which raises millions of dollars by assaulting and destroying the civil rights and liberties of Americans of European descent, be considered in any way a legitimate source of information or validation. Trashing people like me is how Morris Dees makes his millions.
The book, which Duke enthusiastically predicted would “change the course of history,” did nothing of the kind One reviewer said of My Awakening, “It’s all right, the political and racial parts of it, although it’s all been said before and better by others. Large sections of it are basically just narcissistic bullshit with Duke breaking his arm patting himself on the back. It certainly doesn’t justify or ameliorate the harm Duke has done to the Movement with his constant financial and sexual misbehavior. ”
Duke slithered out of this one by co-operating fully with federal prosecutors and testifying fully and extensively before a grand jury, spilling his guts under a grant of immunity.
(Conversely Covington, who was only peripherally implicated and who had advised strongly against the whole hare-brained thing from the beginning, took a far more honorable course when he refused immunity, took the Fifth Amendment on all questions, and at a good deal of personal risk to himself refused to testify even to his own name when he was subpoenaed by the New Orleans grand jury.)
With this awareness that the author almost certainly is Harold Covington and that therefore I should be on the alert for outrageous lies, on 10 August 2010 I contacted David Duke to ask for his side of the story. I asked if he had been involved in the 1981 Dominica caper and he said, "No." I further asked, "What was the nature of your involvement in the ensuing legal process?" Duke answered as follows:
Since I did know the principals, specifically Don Black, I was called before the Grand Jury and refused to say anything, using the provisions of the 5th Amendment. Didn't make them too happy obviously but I think that is the only course that true activists should take in these kinds of matters. Say nothing, because anything you say could harm others or yourself.
Duke's answer is validated by Tyler Bridges, The Rise of David Duke (1994), page 99. According to Bridges Duke escaped indictment, not as Covington alleges "by cooperating fully," but because he refused to testify.
Duke has spent virtually his entire career living off the kindness of strangers-people who mistakenly thought he was championing their cause for no other reason than a desire to help whites. He sold and resold supposedly secret mailing lists, raised money under false pretenses, and lived off the proceeds of fund-raising for at least 10 different political campaigns. He womanized shamelessly and spent thousands on cosmetic surgery for himself, including liposuction to his buttocks.
From his formative years as a supposed National Socialist right up to the present, David Duke’s foremost concern always has been David Duke. For 30 years now, America’s best-known white supremacist has engaged in a striking pattern of financial chicanery and self-serving rip-offs.
By 1974, Duke had founded the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and it wasn’t long before he became the media’s favorite Klan leader. Vowing to modernize the Klan, he urged his acolytes to “get out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms.” After appearing on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow talk show, he was able to use his newfound celebrity to recruit Louis Beam, Don Black and Tom Metzger, who each went on to play key roles in America’s White Nationalist movement.
During this same period, starting with a failed 1975 bid for the Louisiana state senate, Duke began a series of political campaigns. It appears certain they were at least partly funded with money taken from his Klan group’s coffers.
Before long, several of Duke’s most intimate allies began to grow weary of his self-serving personality and his constant, unquenchable greed for money. William Pierce, who Duke had begun corresponding with when the Louisianan was still a teenager, admonished Duke to quit taking credit for an important Pierce pamphlet, Who Runs the Media? Others in the racist movement angrily responded to [...] Duke’s notorious womanizing, which was almost pathological. Duke hit on any female he saw, literally within a matter of minutes of meeting her-single women, married women, female reporters, waitresses, women he saw on the street, it didn’t matter. His sexual obsession approached the medical condition known as satyriasis. Word soon got out that no one could trust their wives, daughters, sisters, or for that matter mothers alone in David Duke’s presence, and many Duke functions to this day turn into an elaborate dance or game to try and keep Duke away from any attractive females present.
In 1979, after his first, abortive run for president (as a Democrat) and a series of highly publicized violent Klan incidents, Duke quietly incorporated the nonprofit National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP) in an attempt to leave the baggage of the Klan behind. But before he made it public, he contacted Bill Wilkinson, a former Duke underling who now headed a rival Klan group.
Duke invited Wilkinson to a remote Alabama farmhouse where he offered to sell for $35,000 his secret membership list-a cardinal offense for a Klan leader who had promised to keep his members’ names secret at all costs. Wilkinson had feigned interest, but secretly invited two reporters to witness the transaction. Duke and his disciple, Don Black, were caught on video and audiotape as they handed a brown paper bag filled with index cards with his members’ names to Wilkinson. Three days later, after Duke’s sellout had received national publicity, he publicly announced the formation of the NAAWP, attacking Wilkinson as he did so. He said he was trying to get away from “the Hollywood image” of the Klan.
Tyler Bridges, who was then an investigative reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, revealed in 1989 that Duke secretly owned two companies. The first, Americana Books, sold racial books from his legislative office, in the basement of his home, which was technically illegal, although admittedly Louisiana legislators have always had a very laid-back attitude on legal matters. The second, Business Consultant & Enterprises (BC&E), was set up by Duke in 1978. Tax returns filed by the NAAWP showed that it had paid BC&E $119,625 from 1983 to 1988 for “mailing list maintenance. ”
Duke's short-lived 1979-1980 campaign for president, Bridges revealed, also had paid BC&E $19,900 to rent space in Duke’s home. “In sum,” Bridges writes in his book, “BC&E - i.e., Duke - from 1983 to 1988 [when Duke ran for president on the far-right Populist Party ticket] received $141,000 from the NAAWP and Duke’s [two] presidential campaigns.” The arrangement was apparently legal.
In 1987, Duke and Don Black traveled to Forsyth County, Ga., to take advantage of simmering racial tension between blacks and the Klan. After they were arrested and charged with reckless conduct during a shouting match with a black man, Duke set up a defense fund for himself that had an almost identical name to another fund set up to aid 62 white supremacists who’d been arrested earlier. After raising at least $8,000 from backers who mistakenly believed they were helping the 62 men arrested with Duke and Black, Duke ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. He was fined a grand total of $55.
It was in the late 1980s that Duke began a series of more serious campaigns for political office. He had enough political savvy to understand that parading around with a swastika armband, as he had done during his college days, would be counterproductive. So he toned down the vitriol and avoided the crudest rhetoric. He also dyed his hair blond and visited a plastic surgeon to reduce the size of his nose. A chin implant altered his profile and chemical peels removed bags and wrinkles around his eyes. On at least two occasions, Duke also had liposuction to his buttocks, since obviously we can’t have a Great White Leader with a fat ass, now, can we?
In the end, he won 607,391 votes, or almost 60 percent of the white vote, but lost the primary. Duke regrouped almost immediately, running for Louisiana governor against Edwin Edwards in a campaign marked by one of the most remarkable bumper stickers in political history: “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important,” devised by anti-Duke forces urging a vote for Edwards. Running in a crowded field, Duke, came within two percentage points of Edwards, forcing him into a run-off. In the run-off, Duke captured 671,009 votes, but lost to Edwards by 22 percentage points.
During the gubernatorial campaign, Duke held rally after rally, passing large plastic buckets through the crowds to raise cash-a method of fund-raising that is illegal under both Louisiana and Federal law, which requires that officials issue cash receipts and keep records of donations. After a lengthy investigation, Duke was fined $1,111.
Next, Duke announced with great fanfare that he would seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States in 1992. But his campaign fizzled as most potential supporters backed right-wing commentator Patrick Buchanan, who espoused many of the same positions as Duke without carrying his baggage. Of course, Duke never stood a chance, but that wasn’t the point-he came out ahead no matter how he fared at the ballot box. According to Bridges’ book, Duke told an assistant that by running for president he hoped to double the size of his computerized mailing list, which by now included 125,000 names. The list would be the source of future income.
Over the years, Duke would run for political office no less than 10 times. After a while, the spectacle of Duke as a perennial candidate-a man who seemed more interested in campaigning, and living off his campaigns, than in actually winning-started to wear thin on voters. But he still wielded considerable influence in Louisiana politics. In some cases, merely dipping his toe into a political campaign gave him leverage and bargaining power with other candidates.
After briefly entering the Louisiana governor’s race in 1995, Duke dropped out and endorsed Mike Foster, a candidate who would go on to win the election. Duke’s endorsement may well have given the edge to Foster, who had cut a back-room deal with the former imperial wizard, ostensibly to rent his mailing list for some $152,000. One Duke aide, Kenny Knight, told Talk magazine that he had met Foster secretly to work out details of the deal. Knight claimed that Foster agreed to Duke’s three conditions: to switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party; to make his first act as governor the abolition of the state affirmative action program; and to never attack Duke. Knight said that Foster agreed to all three conditions. For his part, Foster did switch parties when he announced his candidacy, and then went on to eliminate the affirmative action program shortly after taking office.
Foster, who never used the list during his 1995 campaign, had attempted to hide his payment to Duke, routing it through intermediaries. After it was finally disclosed in 1999, the state Board of Ethics fined Foster $20,000 for failing to disclose the deal. Duke, meanwhile, was confronted by federal agents who asked him why he had failed to pay taxes on the income. Duke claimed his accountant had made a mistake, and hurriedly paid up his long-overdue taxes and penalties.
The high price of the mailing list-newspapers pointed out that it sold for much more than such lists normally do-raised suspicions about what it was that Foster had actually bought. Some critics suggested Duke was being paid off to stay out of the race. In any event, a federal grand jury looking into Duke’s finances queried him two times in 1999 about the mailing list he had sold to Foster. Instead of answering, Duke took the Fifth Amendment.
Duke, realizing he was a target, was worried. He confided to Lori Eden, his girlfriend at the time, that he had lost at least $50,000 at the gaming tables. “I would ask him if he wanted to go to the casino,” Eden told the Intelligence Report, “and he would say, ‘No, I can’t, because the FBI may see me, and they’re on me.’ “He knew way ahead of time that he was going to get in trouble. He made a comment to me once, ‘I do love you, but I’m going to jail.’ He also tried to hint that he wouldn’t be around. What he meant was that he was going to Russia,” added Eden, who at the time was a 33-year-old swimsuit and lingerie model with her own adult Web site. “He knew they were coming after him. So he made sure to get the hell out of here before they actually picked him up to question him.”
Eden, who would break up with Duke when he left for Russia, said that at one point in the relationship she had a pregnancy scare. Duke, a self-described pro-lifer who has railed publicly against abortion for whites for years, suggested that they travel to Paris to get her the abortion pill that was then illegal in America. “He said, I know, I’ve been through this before,’” she recounted. “He also said that it would kill him politically. ”
Some of the proceeds from these bogus direct mail appeals were deposited in a bank account that was under the name of an ex-girlfriend, but controlled by Duke, who maintained “in excess of 30 credit cards,” according to the FBI. During just one 16-month period, Duke collected $230,000 in small checks from his supporters.
Duke was simultaneously undergoing something of a political metamorphosis- or more accurately, a dropping of the mask. Since leaving the Klan, he had worked endlessly to put his Klan and especially his National Socialist past behind him. But in 1998, he self-published his autobiography, entitled My Awakening. The book, which Duke enthusiastically predicted would “change the course of history,” did nothing of the kind. One reviewer said of My Awakening, “It’s all right, the political and racial parts of it, although it’s all been said before and better by others. Large sections of it are basically just narcissistic bullshit with Duke breaking his arm patting himself on the back. It certainly doesn’t justify or ameliorate the harm Duke has done to the Movement with his constant financial and sexual misbehavior. ”
On Nov. 16, 2000, a dozen federal agents raided Duke’s two-story home in Mandeville and carted away 22 boxes of papers, computer discs, credit card records and other documents. Roy Armstrong, his long-time bodyguard and chauffeur, was there during the search and termed it a mere “fishing expedition.” But Duke wasn’t about to be reeled in-he was in Russia on his fourth visit, and he would not return to the United States until reaching a plea agreement in December 2002.
From a safe distance, Duke insisted on his innocence. “Make no mistake about it,” he would write in a NOFEAR newsletter, “this probe is nothing more than a political assassination on the part of government officials who are seeking to silence my voice on our European heritage and rights.” In the meantime, he said, he was moving to Moscow “to struggle against people of other colors and Jews.”
It is clear that Duke understood perfectly that he was in trouble back home. That’s why he spent the next two years traveling in Russia and throughout Europe, giving speeches and hobnobbing with other extremists. For some reason which was never explained, the government never issued a Federal fugitive warrant or asked the State Department to cancel his passport. Overall, he sought to give the impression that he was devoted to building a transnational movement. The reality, however, was that Duke spent most of his time selling his books, meeting privately with prominent rightists, and giving talks.