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TBR News June 21, 2020

Jun 21 2020

The Voice of the White House
Comments: “Some years ago we had an interesting, and instructive, episode in American financial life. It was later called the “dot-com’ episode.
A collection of American stock brokers got together, set up a number of sham companies, one of which we will call ‘deadrabbit.com’. These brokers would then contact certain customers and request permission to purchase ‘dead rabbit’ at ten and sell it at twenty. This they did and the stock shot up in value. They sold out at twenty but the stock continued on upwards.
Eventually, it stopped at a hundred and fifty, waffled for a few days and then started downwards. The bots joined in and soon enough, ‘deadrabbit’ got so low in trade value, it was delisted on the Stock Exchange.
As it was with ‘deadrabbit’ so it has been with Donald Trump.
He excited the very far right, the racists and the bigots as well as the very far right evangelical Christians and for a time, his stock was high.
But because Trump suffers from narcissism, he has continued to make gaffe after gaffe until his stock has begun to topple.
The problem is that Trump will level hysterical blame at everyone else; communists, aliens, and other lurking enemies. His decline and fall will be marked with shrill cries of rage, more cries for help and threats against a society that does not realize his uniqueness and brilliance. It will not be an easy or civilized exit but it will come as surely as the sun rises in the east.”

Trump’s Approval Rating
June 20
USA Rating
Approve Disapprove
35%            65%

The Table of Contents

Donald Trump sows division and promises ‘greatness’ at Tulsa rally flop
• Trump campaign raised $74 million in May, short of Biden’s haul
• Don’t call it a comeback: Trump’s Tulsa rally was just another sad farce
• TikTok users say they helped sabotage Trump rally with false registrations
• Colorado’s Progressive Governor and Legislature Just Ended
• Qualified Immunity for Police Officers
• Dirty Tricks: Eight Falsehoods that Could Undermine the 2020 Election
• The Weissensee Gold
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Donald Trump sows division and promises ‘greatness’ at Tulsa rally flop
US president’s much hyped return turned to humiliation when he failed to fill arena in Republican stronghold of Oklahoma
June 20, 2020
by David Smith in Washington
The Guardian
Donald Trump declared “the silent majority is stronger than ever before” at his comeback rally on Saturday, but thousands of empty seats appeared to tell a different story.
The US president’s much hyped return to the campaign trail turned to humiliation when he failed to fill a 19,000-capacity arena in the Republican stronghold of Oklahoma, raising fresh doubts about his chances of winning re-election.
“The Emperor has no crowd,” tweeted Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama.
The overwhelmingly white gathering at Trump’s first rally since March was dwarfed by the huge multiracial crowds that have marched for Black Lives Matter across the country in recent weeks, reinforcing criticism that the president is badly out of step with the national mood.
The flop in Tulsa was an unexpected anticlimax for an event that seemed to offer a combustible mix of Trump, protests over racial injustice and a coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 120,000 Americans and put more than 40m out of work.
First, Trump’s planned speech to an overflow event outside the venue was cancelled due to lack of attendance. Cable news networks showed a “Trump” lectern standing idle as workers dismantled a stage.
Then the rally venue itself was estimated to be only two-thirds full, with numerous empty seats in the upper tier and empty space on the area floor, despite his campaign having claimed that it received more than a million ticket requests. One explanation for the disconnect spread rapidly online as Twitter users suggested many of the requests were fakes filed by bored teens and even fans of Korean pop music playing a prank on the US president.
But to Trump officials Oklahoma had surely seemed a safe bet for the so-called “transition to greatness” event; Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton 65% to 29% in 2016. Yet the plan began to unravel when the rally, originally scheduled for Friday, was moved back a day following criticism that it would have clashed with Juneteenth, and in a city where in 1921 white supremacists killed an estimated 300 black residents.
The Trump campaign was also condemned for ignoring warnings from public health experts about the dangers of holding the biggest indoor gathering yet seen during the pandemic. Oklahoma has seen a 91% jump in its coronavirus cases over the past week. Six staff members who helped set up the event tested positive and there were fewer face masks among supporters than “Make America great again” signs.
The president appeared to trivialise the virus, “Testing is a double-edged sword,” he told the rally. “We’ve tested now 25 million people. It’s probably 20 million people more than anybody else. Germany’s done a lot. South Korea’s done a lot. Here’s the bad part, When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people. You’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please!’”
He also mused that Covid-19 has many different names, including the racist term “Kung flu”. The crowd cheered.
It was a characteristic moment in a rambling speech that lasted nearly two hours but never caught fire. Trump offered few surprises, planting himself firmly on the side of law and order, lambasting the media and stoking division, hatred and fear.
“The silent majority is stronger than ever before,” he insisted, echoing the former president Richard Nixon. “Five months from now we’re going to defeat Sleepy Joe Biden. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln and we are the party of law and order.”
Warning against defunding police, he said: “It’s one in the morning, and a very tough⁠ – I used the word on occasion – hombre is breaking into the window of a young woman whose husband is away as a traveling salesman or whatever he may do. And you call 911 and they say, ‘I’m sorry this number is no longer working.’”
Trump, who has faced withering attacks for his response to the protests, which included threatening to deploy the US military, claimed: “I’ve done more for the black community in four years than Joe Biden has done in 47 years.”
But he offered no compassion for George Floyd or thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets against police brutality. Instead he railed against the recent removals of Confederate statues.
“The unhinged leftwing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrating our monuments, our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control, we’re not conforming,” he said.
Election opponent Biden was dismissed as “a helpless puppet of the radical left”, “puppet for China” and “very willing Trojan horse for socialism”.
Trump also took some long digressions. Clearly stung by media coverage of his slow, faltering walk down a ramp at the graduation ceremony for the US military academy at West Point last week, he riffed about it being steep and his slippery leather-soled shoes putting him at risk of falling in front of the cameras.
The low turnout will be a blow to Trump, whose campaign reportedly saw it as a way to revive his flagging spirits amid slumping poll numbers. The president had said last Monday: “ We’ve never had an empty seat. And we certainly won’t in Oklahoma.”
But confronted by empty seats that may prove more telling than any opinion poll, Trump hailed his supporters as “warriors” and blamed protesters for the poor turnout: “We had some very bad people outside. They were doing bad things.” He also described them as a “bunch of maniacs”.
The Trump campaign separately claimed that protesters interfered with the president’s supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally. But multiple reporters on the ground saw no evidence of this.
Rallies are Trump’s lifeblood. As usual, this one ended with the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Trump campaign raised $74 million in May, short of Biden’s haul
June 20, 2020
by Simon Lewis, Jason Lange and Grant Smith
Reuters
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $74 million in May, Trump’s re-election campaign said on Saturday, short of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s haul for the month.
The total, up from $61.7 million in April, was disclosed as Trump prepared for Saturday’s smaller-than-expected rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his first major campaign event since the coronavirus pandemic shut down most campaigning.
Former Vice President Biden has stepped up fundraising in recent months since becoming the Democratic Party’s de facto nominee for the Nov. 3 presidential election.
He has also built a lead over Trump in national opinion polls amid the twin crises of the pandemic and civil unrest over police brutality in many U.S. cities.
In May, Biden and the Democratic National Committee raised $80.8 million, their largest single month of fundraising.
Trump, however, continued to have a cash advantage over Biden, according to disclosures filed separately by the two campaigns on Saturday.
The president has been campaigning for re-election since 2017 and his campaign had $108.1 million in cash on hand at the end of May. Biden, who launched his campaign in April, had $82.4 million.
Trump’s campaign also spent more than twice as much as Biden’s campaign did in May, shelling out $24.5 million with over half of that going to political advertising. Trump’s campaign also spent about a half million dollars on legal expenses during the month, slightly lower than its outlays on lawyers in April.
Biden’s campaign spent $11.7 million in May. The candidate only this week announced his first major advertising blitz, launching $15 million in TV and digital ads in the crucial states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, all states Trump won in 2016.
The president has been campaigning for re-election since 2017 and his campaign had $108.1 million in cash on hand at the end of May. Biden, who launched his campaign in April, had $82.4 million.
Trump’s campaign also spent more than twice as much as Biden’s campaign did in May, shelling out $24.5 million with over half of that going to political advertising. Trump’s campaign also spent about a half million dollars on legal expenses during the month, slightly lower than its outlays on lawyers in April.
Biden’s campaign spent $11.7 million in May. The candidate only this week announced his first major advertising blitz, launching $15 million in TV and digital ads in the crucial states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, all states Trump won in 2016.

Don’t call it a comeback: Trump’s Tulsa rally was just another sad farce
Campaign officials should be ready for firings and fury after a pathetic event made worse by wretched attempted excuses
June 20, 2020
by Richard Wolffe
The Guardian
There have been so many reasons to feel embarrassed about Donald Trump.
There was the time he paid off a porn star. There was the time he lied about the size of his inauguration crowd. The time he talked about the big water around Puerto Rico. The time he thought you could kill the coronavirus by injecting yourself with bleach.
But nothing truly comes close to the embarrassment of his so-called comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.
It was so toe-curlingly cringeworthy, such a crushing humiliation. There are 80s pop bands who have enjoyed greater comebacks than Donald Trump.
To understand how much of his insides will always melt at the thought of that Tulsa rally, it’s worth quoting Trump’s fine words just before he boarded Marine One at the White House.
“The event in Oklahoma is unbelievable,” he boasted. “The crowds are unbelievable. They haven’t seen anything like it. And we will go there now. We’ll give a, hopefully, good speech. We’re going to see a lot of great people, a lot of great friends. And pretty much, that’s it. OK?”
We really haven’t seen anything like that. For a man who loves peddling superlatives, this was the worst measure of his oh-so-sad popularity. The lowest point in electoral incompetence. The saddest campaign fiasco.
The event in Oklahoma was literally unbelievable if you believe that the Trump campaign is competent, and that Trump himself is actually popular. That’s the weird thing about our populist president: his approval ratings have never cracked 50% and are now stuck firmly in the low 40s. Perhaps that’s why he’s trailing Joe Biden by double-digits in recent polls.
As Trump likes to say: Pretty much, that’s it. At least it is for everyone grifting at the Trump campaign. Especially Brad Parscale, the Ferrari-driving manager who went from website builder to social media genius in 2016 but who now faces an imminent return to his website-building career, after predicting a monster rally in Tulsa.
Parscale bragged about “over 1m ticket requests” earlier this week, a number he was so confident about that he built an outdoor event stage for Trump to talk to the massive overflow crowd. That was the day after Parscale tweeted about the “biggest data haul and rally signup of all time by 10x. Saturday is going to be amazing!”
Brad, it was indeed amazing. You got punked by several hundred thousand TikTok users, organized by a grandmother in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Mary Jo Laupp was apparently so upset by the original date and place of Trump’s rally – the city where one of America’s worst racist massacres took place, in 1921 – that she asked people to sign up for the rally and not show up.
Laupp only joined TikTok earlier this year, but her call connected with thousands of K-Pop fans who are what Trump might call a silent majority.
Trump knows as much about Korean pop as he does about the Tulsa massacre and Juneteenth, the original date of his epic comeback rally. Of course he had to ask a black Secret Service agent to explain the meaning of Juneteenth, the holiday marking the emancipation of enslaved people.
“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”
As it happened, nobody has ever heard of Trump’s comeback either. That’s in Oklahoma, a state he won by 36 points in 2016. A state no Democratic presidential nominee has won since 1964.
Perhaps the Secret Service could do Trump another favor by explaining how his official excuse for the miserable crowds is even more laughable than all that bragging about MAGA fans.
“Sadly protesters interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman who should urgently seek alternative employment.
CNN reporters estimated there were around 175 protesters in Tulsa, so few, in fact, that the sidewalks were clear. Pool reporters traveling with the presidential motorcade said they saw no protesters or supporters en route.
This is the second time in one week that Trump has blown up his own campaign. If the geniuses running his train-wreck of a re-election had any argument against Biden it was this: Biden was soft on China and too unpopular to build a crowd.
But then came John Bolton’s book, revealing Trump’s bootlicking approach to being tough on China. Trump told Xi Jinping he was the greatest leader in Chinese history, which is quite a long time, according to the Secret Service.
Then the campaign was readying the most awesome contrast between the Tulsa rally and Biden’s socially-distanced campaigning. “Barely There Biden” was supposed to be the sequel to “Beijing Biden”.
There’s something else that’s barely there: Trump supporters.
To be fair, if they weren’t discouraged by the many dozens of protesters, Trump’s multitude of Maga-heads might have been discouraged by the pandemic that is now surging in, um, Tulsa.
The Trump White House and campaign would love its fans to pretend the pandemic has disappeared, like a miracle, just as Trump said it would. Sadly six of their own staffers tested positive for the virus on the day of the Tulsa rally, so this is a miracle that is moving as quickly as a president shuffling down a ramp.
Trump told the crowd at great length why he couldn’t possibly walk down a ramp unaided. He even re-enacted his walk down the deadly incline. He also treated them to a long excuse about why he couldn’t hold a glass of water with one hand. It apparently has something to do with protecting his expensive silk tie. Man of the people, that Trump guy.
Just as well he didn’t try to heal the nation’s racial divide. He might have tried to re-enact something far worse.
For the half-filled arena (capacity, 19,000), it was hardly worth risking infection for this mask-free, fact-free and momentum-free event.
“I wish they would spread out a bit,” said CNN’s doctor-in-chief Sanjay Gupta. “It looks like they have the space to do so.”
Soon there will be even more space freed up at Trump’s campaign headquarters. Team Trump: don’t bother planning another rally. You are about to lose your job

TikTok users say they helped sabotage Trump rally with false registrations
June 21, 2020
by Elizabeth Culliford
Reuters
(Reuters) – TikTok users took partial credit for inflating attendance expectations at a less-than-full arena at President Donald Trump’s first political rally in months, held in Tulsa on Saturday.
Social media users on platforms including the popular video-sharing app have said they completed the free online registration for the rally with no intention of going. The New York Times reported that fans of Korean pop music were encouraging people to do the same.
Prior to the event, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale said there had been more than one million requests to attend. However, the 19,000-seat BOK Center arena had many empty seats on Saturday evening and Trump and Vice President Mike Pence canceled speeches to an expected “overflow” area outside.
A Tulsa Fire Department spokesman told Reuters the crowd was tallied at about 6,200 people.
Trump’s campaign advisers had seen the rally as a way to rejuvenate his base and demonstrate support, at a time when a string of opinion polls have shown him trailing his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden.
Oklahoma has reported a surge in new coronavirus cases in recent days, and the state’s department of health had warned those planning on attending the event that they faced an increased risk of catching the virus.
The Trump campaign said entry was on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis and no one was issued an actual ticket.
“Leftists always fool themselves into thinking they’re being clever. Registering for a rally only means you’ve RSVPed with a cellphone number,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement. “But we thank them for their contact information.”
Parscale said in a statement the campaign weeds out bogus phone numbers and that they did this with “tens of thousands” at the Tulsa event in calculating possible attendance.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, responded with derision to a Twitter post by Parscale that blamed the media for discouraging attendees and cited bad behavior by demonstrators outside.
“Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID,” she tweeted on Saturday. “KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too,” she added.
CNN reported on Tuesday that a TikTok video posted by Mary Jo Laupp, who uses the hashtag #TikTokGrandma, was helping lead the charge. The video now has more than 700,000 likes.
Fans of K-pop have been actively rallying around the Black Lives Matter movement on social media in recent weeks, taking over hashtags that opposed the movement and spamming a Dallas police department app that asked for evidence of illegal activity during the protests.
On Saturday evening there were some shouting matches and scuffles outside the event between around 30 Black Lives Matter demonstrators and some Trump supporters waiting to enter.
A Reuters reporter said that while police did temporarily close the access gates after protesters arrived at the rally perimeter, state troopers helped clear the area and the gates were reopened some three hours before the rally began.
The Biden campaign denied having any role in the social media registration effort.
“Donald Trump has abdicated leadership and it is no surprise that his supporters have responded by abandoning him,” said a campaign spokesman, Andrew Bates.
Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Daniel Wallis

Colorado’s Progressive Governor and Legislature Just Ended Qualified Immunity for Police Officers
June 19, 2020
by Colin Kalmbacher
Law & Crime
Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D), a progressive, signed an omnibus reform bill into law on Friday to end qualified immunity for police officers in the state.
“This is a long overdue moment of national reflection,” Polis said at the signing ceremony. “This is a meaningful, substantial reform bill.”
A summary of the sea change from the Colorado legislature notes:
The bill allows a person who has a constitutional right secured by the bill of rights of the Colorado constitution that is infringed upon by a peace officer to bring a civil action for the violation. A plaintiff who prevails in the lawsuit is entitled to reasonable attorney fees, and a defendant in an individual suit is entitled to reasonable attorney fees for defending any frivolous claims. Qualified immunity and a defendant’s good faith but erroneous belief in the lawfulness of his or her conduct are not defenses is not a defense to the civil action. The bill requires a political subdivision of the state to indemnify its employees for such a claim; except that if the peace officer’s employer determines the officer did not act upon a good faith and reasonable belief that the action was lawful, then the peace officer is personally liable for 5 percent of the judgment or $25,000, whichever is less, unless the judgment is uncollectible from the officer, then the officer’s employer satisfies the whole judgment .
The controversial, judge-made doctrine has taken center stage in national discussions about brutality and systemic racism in American policing and criminal justice. That narrative, long an undercurrent of American life, itself came to the fore after several thousand racial justice protests occurred in all 50 states following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in late May.
Qualified immunity for police officers was invented by the Supreme Court in the 1967 case of Pierson v. Ray in response to Civil Rights protesters who sued a Mississippi judge and several local police officers over their unjust arrest and imprisonment.
The doctrine largely protects individual officers from federal Civil Rights lawsuits known as 1983 claims–so-named after the statutory section of federal law in which they appear: 42 U.S.C. §1983.
Under qualified immunity, police can have 1983 lawsuits against them quickly dismissed–unless the person who was allegedly deprived of their rights can show a similar court precedent in the same jurisdiction demanding redress from the police under almost an identical set of facts. Throughout the decades of the doctrine’s use, however, most judges have been loathe to offer precedent-setting opinions that would expose officers to civil liability.
For years, critics have decried a system wherein individual police officers are, by and large, protected from lawsuits no matter how egregious their alleged behavior. High hurdles for plaintiffs–created and accepted by judges–have also likely discouraged many would-be plaintiffs and attorneys from raising 1983 claims in the first place, qualified immunity’s opponents insist.
After the Supreme Court fashioned the doctrine into existence, it was enlarged several times over, consistently chipping away at the rights provided in the Civil Rights Act of 1871. State courts adopted the doctrine over the years to accommodate police officers accused of Civil Rights violations “under the color of law.”
Qualified immunity appears to have first appeared in Centennial State law via the 1985 Colorado Supreme Court case of Higgs v. District Court.
With the passage of SB217 Colorado is the first U.S. state–and perhaps the first U.S. jurisdiction–to do away with qualified immunity.
The landmark law itself reads, in relevant part:
A peace officer…employed by a local government who, under color of law, subjects or causes to be subjected, including failing to intervene, any other person to the deprivation of any individual rights that create binding obligations on government actors secured by the bill of rights, Article II of the State Constitution, is liable to the injured party for legal or equitable relief or any other appropriate relief…
qualified immunity is not a defense to liability pursuant to this section.
The legislation provides a state law and state court carve out for deprivation of rights claims–by creating a new state-based cause of action–and does not, by its own terms, purport to upset the federal system of qualified immunity.
The Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice policy analyst Jay Schweikert, an expect on qualified immunity, praised Colorado’s accomplishment and explained the impact of the new law.
“Colorado has passed historic civil rights legislation, which both allows citizens to bring civil rights claims against police officers who violate their rights under the Colorado Constitution, and also clarifies that qualified immunity will not be a defense to any such claims,” he told Law&Crime. “While this law doesn’t affect the availability of qualified immunity in federal cases, it does ensure that Coloradans who are the victims of police misconduct will have a meaningful remedy in state court.”
“This law passed with nearly unanimous support in the Colorado Senate, demonstrating just how much cross-ideological, bipartisan opposition there is to qualified immunity,” Schweikert continued.

Dirty Tricks: Eight Falsehoods that Could Undermine the 2020 Election
Truth Matters: Fake election crises can undercut trust in the vote, inflame partisan tensions, and destabilize our democracy.
by Max Feldman
Brennan Center for Justice
The 2020 election will be hard-fought and divisive. The Covid-19 pandemic has already caused major disruptions to our elections system, and the risk that other real crises — natural disaster, machine breakdown, foreign interference — will further disrupt the election is significant. But there is also a significant risk that political actors will manufacture crises to undermine election results they don’t like. These fake crises can undercut trust in the accuracy of election outcomes, inflame partisan tensions, and destabilize our democracy.
Here are eight lies, misconceptions, and false arguments that we think voters will have to contend with in 2020:
1. “Voter Fraud” Is Rampant
The Claim: There is widespread voting by ineligible individuals.
The Truth: This type of fraud is extremely rare.
Based on a meticulous review of elections that had been investigated for voter fraud, the Brennan Center found miniscule incident rates of ineligible individuals fraudulently casting ballots at the polls – no more than 0.0025 percent. Numerous reports have confirmed our finding that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. Research shows that voter fraud is similarly rare with mail ballots.
An exhaustive review by Professor Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School found just 31 credible instances of impersonation fraud from 2000 to 2014, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast.
Overhyped allegations of voter fraud are regularly made, but follow-up investigation almost always reveals that these claims were based on fundamental errors. For example, in 2017, Kris Kobach – the vice chair of President Trump’s voter fraud commission – claimed that thousands of out-of-state voters had cast a ballot illegally in New Hampshire in the 2016 election, swinging that state’s Senate election. Kobach’s claim was based largely on a misunderstanding of New Hampshire law and was quickly debunked.
In 2018, Florida Gov. Rick Scott claimed that there was “rampant fraud” in his U.S. Senate race, but that claim was rejected by law enforcement officials and election monitors from his own administration. This pattern has repeated itself again and again.
These results are not for lack of looking for voter fraud. In 2002, then Attorney General John Ashcroft created the Voting Access and Integrity Initiative, which aggressively investigated voter fraud allegations as one of the top priorities of the Justice Department.
After five years, however, the U.S. Department of Justice found little evidence of fraud. In 2007, the New York Times reported that only about 120 people were charged and 86 were convicted of election-related crimes, despite hundreds of millions of votes being cast, during the period under investigation.
While fraud by voters almost never occurs, fraud against voters does occur, albeit rarely. This type of fraud is committed by bigger players, with bigger weapons than an improperly filled ballot. Think Putin’s hackers or election workers stuffing ballot boxes. Importantly, the policies needed to address this kind of fraud are dramatically different than the policies proposed to address the specter of voter impersonation fraud.
The Consequences: More restrictive voting laws and lower levels of trust in elections.
Voter fraud claims have had a deeply deleterious effect on the last decade of American elections. They have been used to justify restrictive state voting practices — like strict voter identification laws and overly aggressive purges of the voter rolls — that disenfranchise legitimate voters, often in a discriminatory manner.
More broadly, they undermine trust in the integrity of our elections process.
2. Noncitizens Are Voting in Droves
The Claim: Millions of noncitizens are voting and tipping election outcomes.
The Truth: Noncitizen voting is exceedingly rare.
Following President Trump’s allegations of widespread noncitizen voting in the 2016 election, the Brennan Center researched the incidence of noncitizen voting in 42 election jurisdictions with large noncitizen populations. We found only about 30 incidents of suspected non-citizen voting referred for further investigation or prosecution out of 23.5 million votes tabulated in those jurisdictions. Put another way, suspected noncitizen votes accounted for 0.0001 percent of the 2016 votes in the jurisdictions we surveyed.
More recently, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley announced that tens of thousands of noncitizens were on the state’s voter rolls and had cast a ballot. This claim was debunked within days — the secretary’s list failed to account for the fact that a large number of people become naturalized citizens and then lawfully register to vote. A federal court intervened to stop voter purges premised on this discredited claim. And Secretary Whitley ultimately resigned.
These results make sense. A single vote rarely swings an election, but the punishment for noncitizen voting is severe — including imprisonment, $10,000 in fines, and deportation.
The Consequences: More restrictive voting laws and lower levels of trust in elections.
Claims of noncitizen voting have been used to justify restrictive voting practices that make it difficult for legitimate voters to participate, including documentary proof of citizenship laws, voter ID laws, and large-scale voter purges. These practices disenfranchise many eligible voters, typically in a discriminatory fashion, with little to no benefit.
These claims also undermine trust in the integrity of our elections process, and they are particularly inflammatory because of their intersection with race and immigration.
3. The Machines Malfunctioned — They Were Clearly Rigged
The Claim: “Vote flipping” by voting machines — and other malfunctions, such as machines failing to start, crashing, or freezing — are clear indications that hackers have penetrated machines or that partisans have rigged the election in favor of their preferred candidate.
The Truth: Malfunctions may be the result of wear and tear rather than hacking or manipulation. For example, vote flipping can be caused by the glue between the touch screen and the machine wearing down.
The Brennan Center has sounded the alarm about aging voting machines for years. In 2018, jurisdictions in 41 states used voting systems that were at least a decade old.
Since then, at least nine states have upgraded their voting systems to eliminate old machines. Importantly, we project that no battleground states will use paperless Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines in 2020 — the type of machine most susceptible to hacking and to vote flipping.
The Consequences: Inaccurate claims of hacking or vote-rigging could lead to extreme partisan conflict over election results in 2020.
Given interference in the 2016 election and our subsequent political history, allegations of foreign hacking of voting machines will be highly inflammatory and divisive, as will allegations of vote-rigging.
Credible allegations of hacking must be investigated, hacking must be exposed, and any interference must be remediated.
4. Something’s Fishy — the Results Are Taking Too Long
The Claim: A failure to announce results on election night is an indication of malfeasance in the election process.
The Truth: In a close election, getting the right result can take time.
The modern media environment has engendered an unreasonable expectation that election results will be delivered, definitively, on election night.
Especially in close elections, that expectation cannot always responsibly be met, because election officials generally cannot complete the canvass of all absentee and provisional ballots until after Election Day.
Furthermore, election scholars Ned Foley and Charles Stewart have identified a “blue shift” in ballots counted after Election Day. These “overtime” ballots break disproportionately for Democratic candidates because Democrats are more likely than Republicans to cast provisional ballots.
Sometimes, close elections or postelection audits can trigger a recanvass of vote totals or broader recounts, which take additional time.
The Consequences: Rushing out election results can lead to inaccurate election night calls of outcomes, resulting in increased partisan conflict over election outcomes and decreased trust in democratic processes.
On election night in 2000, major news organizations called Florida for Al Gore, retracted that call, then called the state for George W. Bush, and subsequently retracted that call. The election was not definitively resolved until 36 days later. A postmortem commissioned by CNN flatly stated: “Those calls and their retractions constituted a news disaster that damaged democracy and journalism.”
More recently, the Iowa Democratic Party set the expectation that the initial results of the Democratic Caucus would be released at 8:30 p.m. on election night. Due to a cascading series of technological and planning blunders, the party was unable to meet that deadline. The mismatch between expectations and the actual timeline for producing results gave an opening to social media conspiracy-mongers, who sought to undermine trust in the ultimate outcome.
In addition, at times, there are errors in the unofficial election night results, which then need to be corrected. For example, following Election Day 2004, Broward County election officials double-checked their results and found that tens of thousands of votes on certain state amendments had not been counted as a result of a software glitch. The software used to count absentee ballots started counting backward after it logged 32,000 votes in a race.
5. That’s Not What the Election Night Predictions Said
The Claim: Election outcomes that differ from election night projections are suspect.
The Truth: Ballots continue to be counted after election night and, in a close election, those ballots can change the outcome.
In 2020, we will likely see a surge in the use of mail-in and provisional ballots. Covid-19 may dramatically shift voters toward mail balloting. Furthermore, we have seen a fairly steady climb in the use of mail-in ballots over the past quarter-century, and states have continued to expand the use of all-mail elections and by-mail absentee voting in recent years.
In addition, high turnout, a recent escalation in voter purges, and heightened risk of foreign interference may all contribute to increased use of provisional ballots, which are a fail-safe option for voters who cannot confirm their eligibility at the polls for any number of reasons.
These are positive, voter-friendly balloting options, but they can take longer to canvass than regular ballots cast in person on Election Day. For example, a number of states accept mail ballots that arrive after Election Day or offer voters an opportunity to fix purported signature discrepancies on their absentee ballot. (Additional states may do so in response to Covid-19.) Similarly, it takes time for election officials to evaluate the validity of provisional ballots.
The Consequences: Increased partisan conflict over election outcomes and decreased trust in election outcomes.
During a recount in Florida’s 2018 Senate race, the eventual winner, Rick Scott, repeatedly claimed without evidence that his opponent was trying to steal the election through fraud. These claims were amplified by partisans, including President Trump. As a result, state law enforcement officials were forced to weigh in to dispute claims of criminal activity.
6. Recounts, Audits, and Election Contests Are Ways to Steal an Election
The Claim: Recounts, audits, and election contests are illegitimate attempts to undo a valid election result.
The Truth: Recounts, audits, and election contests are all normal parts of the elections process that help to ensure that every valid ballot is counted accurately.
A recount is exactly what it sounds like — a process to count the ballots cast in a close election again. Twenty states mandate automatic recounts if a small number of votes separate the top candidates in the election, and 43 permit individuals to petition for a recount, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Audits are a process to verify the accuracy of vote totals, by comparing paper records of votes to electronic vote tallies. Twenty-four states voter verifiable paper records for all votes cast as well as post-election audits of paper records before certifying election results. Particularly given the election security challenges that have arisen in recent years, audits are a crucial component of responsible election administration.
Election contests are challenges to election results. The bases for these challenges, and the people permitted to bring them, vary from state to state and from office to office.
Because each of these processes can result in a different election outcome than the one projected on election night, the election night winner has a strong incentive to seek to undermine their legitimacy or to halt them altogether. These incentives will be especially strong in 2020, given the stakes of the election.
The Consequences: Increased partisan conflict over and decreased trust in election outcomes.
In 2000, for example, GOP-organized protesters stormed the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami and succeeded in shutting down the recount of Miami-Dade County’s presidential ballots. The so-called “Brooks Brothers riot” produced a partisan benefit for one side in the election. But it contributed to the “voting wars” that have made voting rules a site of significant partisan conflict since 2000.
7. People Can’t Help People Vote
The Claim: Groups that help many voters cast their absentee ballots are engaged in illegal “ballot harvesting,” and laws that allow such assistance enable election fraud.
The Truth: Partisans use the pejorative “ballot harvesting” to criticize two very different sets of practices: (a) illegal and illegitimate absentee ballot tampering and (b) legal and legitimate assistance to voters casting their absentee ballots. Voter assistance is not evidence of fraud.
Ballot tampering is illegal everywhere. That includes practices like stealing ballots from mailboxes, filling out other people’s ballots without their consent and direction, and changing or throwing out other people’s ballots.
Most states allow certain individuals — especially family members, health-care providers, and legal guardians — to assist voters by collecting and submitting their absentee ballots. Many states allow a broader array of individuals to provide ballot assistance. Where allowed, ballot collection is not indicative of any malfeasance or fraud.
The biggest ballot tampering scandal in recent memory was in connection with the 2018 congressional election in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district. There, a GOP political operative ran an operation that collected absentee ballots from voters and tampered with those ballots. This led to the North Carolina Board of Elections ordering a new congressional election in the district. Ballot collection is illegal in North Carolina. Indeed, ballot tampering scandals are not more common in states that allow ballot collection.
Some partisans have tried to leverage the North Carolina election fraud into an indictment of absentee ballot assistance laws by suggesting that ballot assistance practices are all forms of illegitimate ballot harvesting. In particular, they incorrectly claim that the “ballot harvesting” that is illegal in North Carolina is actually legal in California because of a 2016 ballot collection law that permits people other than family members to collect voters’ absentee ballots.
This is false. Ballot assistance may be legal in California, but ballot tampering is illegal there — as it is everywhere in the country.
The Truth, Moreover: Absentee ballot assistance laws can be critical lifelines for voters
Twenty-seven states have absentee ballot assistance laws that permit voters to designate someone other than a family member to return their absentee ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Some voters need this assistance in order to cast a ballot. For example, the Native American Rights Fund has said, “Native voters, especially tribal elders, often lack reliable transportation and reside in geographically remote areas in which they rely upon friends and neighbors to pick up and return their mail.” As a result, barring third-party assistance with absentee voting “would effectively disenfranchise tens of thousands of Native voters.”
The Consequences: Lower levels of trust in elections and more restrictive voting laws.
Like other claims of widespread fraud, attacks on “ballot harvesting” undermine trust in the integrity of the elections process.
In addition, Arizona and Montana have enacted laws to sharply restrict third-party assistance to absentee voters in recent years. In January 2020, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arizona’s restriction, holding that it had a discriminatory effect on American Indian, Hispanic, and African American voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act and that it was passed for a discriminatory purpose, in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment. (This decision has been stayed pending Supreme Court review.)
According to the to the court, minority voters were more likely than other voters to rely on assistance casting their absentee ballots, for a variety of reasons including issues with transportation and mail service.
8. We Need More Aggressive Purges to Clear Out All the Ineligible Voters
The Claim: Aggressive voter purges are needed because voter rolls are infected with large numbers of ineligible voters.
The Truth: Claims that voter rolls are “dirty” are overblown.
Many of the claims that jurisdictions have more voters on the rolls than eligible people in the jurisdiction appear to be based on a rudimentary comparison between U.S. Census population data, which is not designed to estimate the eligible voting age population, and county election statistics, which are measured at “book closing” — the period immediately before an election, when registration rates are at their high-water mark. Federal courts have rejected this approach, and many of the targeted jurisdictions have rebutted these claims.
Furthermore, some of these claims have included “inactive” voters — those who have been flagged for potential removal from the rolls — in the count of registered voters. Federal law, sensibly, requires jurisdictions to keep these voters on the rolls for two election cycles before purging them. This is a feature, not a bug: it helps to ensure that flagged voters have actually changed addresses or otherwise become ineligible.
The Truth, Moreover: Claims of rampant inaccuracies in the voter rolls are part of a sustained pressure campaign to push election officials to purge their rolls more aggressively. But aggressive purges can result in eligible voters being improperly kicked off the rolls.
For example, officials and activists have pushed the use of interstate data-matching systems, including one system administered by the Kansas secretary of state, to identify voters registered in more than one state. But the Kansas system has proven deeply flawed, in part because it matches voters using only their first name, last name, and date of birth, which is likely to produce false positives in groups as large as statewide or multistate registration lists. (In December 2019, Kansas suspended the system, as part of a court settlement.)
There has also been an uptick in state efforts to purge noncitizens, but the data states are using as the basis for these purges has not been consistently reliable. Texas’s disastrous 2019 noncitizen purge attempt illustrates the point.
The Consequences: Purge numbers are growing.
The Brennan Center has documented a dramatic surge in purge rates since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 2013.
Counties that were previously covered by Section 5 of the VRA — that is, counties in states with a history of voting discrimination — have purged people from the rolls at much higher rates than other counties have. The median purge rate between 2016 and 2018 in jurisdictions previously covered by Section 5 was 40 percent higher than the purge rate in jurisdictions that were not covered.
The Consequences, Moreover: Improper purges can disenfranchise eligible voters, cause undue delays at the polls, and heighten distrust in our election systems.
In 2016, the New York City Board of Elections purged hundreds of thousands of voters with little notice to voters or the public. On Election Day, thousands of voters showed up at the polls only to find that their registrations had been deleted.
In 2019, the Texas secretary of state announced that there were 95,000 noncitizens on the state’s voter rolls, including 58,000 who had voted illegally. This claim, which was based on state driver’s license data, was false. A federal court halted purges based on the faulty information and the secretary of state eventually resigned over the debacle, but not before President Trump amplified the initial false claim, sowing distrust in the elections process.
As noted above, claims that several Iowa counties had more voters on their rolls than eligible voters in the county also appeared ahead of the Democratic Caucus in January 2020. These claims were quickly debunked, but the confusion around the caucus vote counting gave them new life and gave partisans new opportunities to question the integrity of the election.

The Weissensee Gold
Globocnik’s Treasure Horde

A history of one of the largest and proven buried treasures in the world: what has been discovered and what is still waiting to be found.

In late April 1945, a convoy of German trucks left the German-occupied Italian city of Muggia [in Istria] on the Adriatic Sea and drove north through Udine and then northeast to Villach in what was once the Greater German Reich and is now Austria.
There were five trucks, all painted the medium camouflage yellow of the later war German Wehrmacht, and one staff car bearing license plates of the SS. This car was occupied by SS-Gruppenführer Odlio Globocnik, Senior SS and Police Commander of the Adriatic Region, his driver and two SS aides. The trucks each had, besides the driver, two armed Ukrainian guards, all in field-gray Waffen-SS uniforms.
Inside the trucks were stacked dozens of heavy wooden German ammunition boxes, containers of food, cases of liquor and miscellaneous furniture, carpets and household goods.
Before the convoy reached Villach, it turned off the main highway and headed west through the Gaitaler Alps, finally stopping on the north shore of the Weissensee, a long, deep mountain lake.
The ground was still hard from the winter cold, but throughout the night and into the early hours of the next day, holes were dug in the ground at various points around the lake and the wooden ammunition boxes carefully buried. The fresh earth was hastily covered with armfuls of old pine needles and branches. All of the sites were carefully marked on a map and then the trucks drove off, past the small towns of Neusach and Techendorf and onto the main road which is now E-66.
Globocnik was later captured by a British armored unit and purported by them to have killed himself while under interrogation. In fact, U.S. intelligence reports indicate very clearly that not only did Globocnik survive the end of the war, but ended up in American employment.
He had bought his freedom by bribing the British and turning over to them the contents of two of his buried cases, which consisted of many thousands of British pound notes. The remainder of the wooden chests contained millions of dollars worth of gold coins, religious medals, gold jewelry, platinum, silver, antique coins, gold pencils, containers of dental gold and bridgework, and wedding rings.
These had originated in the concentration camps under Globocnik’s control in the Lublin district of what had been pre-war Poland. While the head of such camps as Belzec and Treblinka, Globocnik who had been fired by Hitler from his official prewar position as Gauleiter, or Governor, of Vienna for theft, took advantage of his situation. He sequestered a large amount of treasure he took from the occupants of his camps as well as additional assets obtained from extensive treasure hunts in the districts he controlled.
When Heinrich Himmler learned of Globocnik’s completely unauthorized activities in his Polish domain, he ordered him to close the camps, destroy any trace of them and remove himself with a promotion, to the city of Trieste where Globocnik, a Slovenian, had been born in 1904. While there, Globocnik managed to acquire more loot and it was this money which he took into the Austrian Alps with a crew of his loyal Ukranians who had served as camp guards at Treblinka.
Himmler, and the head of the SS economic section, Oswald Pohl, were well aware that the Slovenian SS general had made off with money belonging to the SS, and the U.S. National Archives has an extensive file of correspondence between the trio, a file that also contains lists of stolen valuables. Globocnik, who ended up in Syria as a corresponding member of the CIA-controlled Gehlen Organization, was never able to recover any of his hidden treasure, but his disclosures to his captors, and later employers, led to an extensive treasure hunt after the war.
Globocnik supplied a map overlay which he claimed showed the exact locations of each burial spot along with a brief notation of the contents. The problem, as noted in U.S. reports, was that the overlay did not correspond to the standard German Wehrmacht 1:50 000 scale maps of the Alpen- und Donau-Reichsgaue of 1944. Other military maps were checked with equally negative results and the official opinion expressed both in the United States and England was that Globocnik had sold his captors a bill of goods.
In the following years, the thought of the buried treasure had energized a number of people from various countries and the Weissensee became a very popular vacation spot. In the winter, when the ground was frozen, the visitors were tourists partaking of winter sports. But in the summer, the guest registries in the various inns and pensions indicate a remarkable number of visitors from Germany, England and Israel, all of whom were no doubt seeking rest and relaxation in the deep pine woods or out on the placid lake.
Globocnik, however, had not sold his captors a bill of goods. The transparent overlay was completely accurate and it was the lack of persistence of both the British and Americans that led them to discount the validity of the treasure map.
Obtaining the overlay was one matter, after all no one believed it officially, but trying to find out what kind of a map Globocnik might have used was quite another. Eventually one was found in a shop in Klangenfurt which was of a pre-1938 printing and dealt specifically with the Weissensee area. It had originally been produced for hikers and was never used by the military.
When the overlay was placed over this map, the markings on the edges matched perfectly with the map, even down to penciled in lines showing the roads and trails that existed in the years before the war.
On this overlay, which was folded and repaired with transparent tape, were nine crosses marked in indelible pencil and after each mark was the notation “10 Kisten” or “8 Kisten,” and brief notations about the depth of the burial sites such as “1.5 m.” The translation of Kisten is box or crate and the metric depths are obvious
When the information about the positive location of Globocnik’s horde was confirmed in 1989, individuals in possession of the overlay and the map embarked on an expedition to recover as much as possible, if not all, of the buried treasure.
Under then-current Austrian law, the treasure trove was to be divided equally between the finder or finders, the government of Austria and the owner or owners of the land on which it was found. Very discreet inquiry with agencies in Vienna disclosed that the Austrian government did not view their former Gauleiter’s money as having been acquired through criminal activities and that, therefore, the division of the find was to follow standard procedure. Had the government decreed that the buried money resulted from a criminal endeavor, the state would assume complete control over it and its eventual disposal.
Given this written assurance, four individuals embarked on a treasure hunt which, if successful, would rival any other such hunt, even the discovery of the Spanish treasure galleons in the waters of Florida. Two of these entrepreneurs were American. One was a CIA employee who worked in Berlin…for both the Company and the East German Stasi. and the other was along because of his possession of the map and overlay. The other two seekers were a German, once an officer in the SS and a former aide to Globocnik, and a Ukrainian SS man who had been involved with the original plantings, but had no specific memory of what he helped bury, and more important, where.
There were nine sites involved. One site had been discovered and looted by Globocnik’s British military captors in 1945, another had been paved over as a parking lot for a postwar inn and was completely inaccessible. Jackhammering up sections of asphalted parking lots was apt to draw the ire of the building’s operators as well as the completely unwelcome attentions of the Austrian gendarmes.
The remaining seven deposits were the goals of the recent arrivals at the towns of Techendorf and Neusach. It was decided to break the group into two sections for security reasons, the two Americans renting quarters at Neusach and the other two remaining at Techendorf.
The German had rented a camper wagon and was pretending to be deeply interested in healthful tours of the woods while his Ukrainian companion developed an equal interest in rowing about the lake in a rented boat, looking for ideal fishing spots.
One of the Americans, who had some artistic abilities, posed as a landscape artist and spent some of his time conspicuously working in watercolors in areas easily observed by the curious. His fellow countryman devoted a good deal of his time in courting various young women, who as often happens, came to the summer resort looking for remote and discreet romance far from permanent boyfriends, husbands or prying relatives. Both were reasonably successful and after two weeks of convincing the local residents that they were indeed both artistic and lecherous, the group came together one night to consolidate their strategy.
The first dig was begun on Sunday, June 10, 1990 at 11:30 p.m. The area selected was just past the town of Neusach where the main road ended. It was about a kilometer past the end of the official road and could easily be reached on foot.
Armed with the map, the overlay, shovels, two tarpaulins and a very expensive metal detector, they spent almost two hours in attempting to finesse Globocnik’s notes. The land had remained the same since 1945, but the growth of new trees since then created a number of problems.
The cache, consisting of four boxes, was located by the detector eventually, surprisingly close to the original location noted on the map and the digging began. The tarps were placed on either side of the opening and dirt from the dig was carefully dumped on top of them to facilitate filling in the excavation when they were finished.
The ground was well-thawed and after thirty minutes of shared digging, a spade resounded from the lid of one of the chests. Very much like 19th century grave robbers, the quartet worked in furtive haste, all of them positive that someone would discover their activities. No one came, however, and the first box was opened in situ. Much of the wood had rotted and the metal fittings were almost shapeless with rust, but the contents of the crate had been carefully packed in tin boxes which had been dipped in wax and were completely intact.
The small boxes, which were pleasantly heavy, were lifted out and carefully stacked at one end of the rectangular hole and the excavation process was continued until all four cases had been located, broken into and emptied.
Without making any attempt, pleasurable though it would have been for all concerned, to open the metal containers, the hole was quickly filled in again. The loose earth was tamped down by stamping on it and finally, a collection of small rocks, twigs, pine needles and forest detritus spread over the surface. The use of the tarps had kept telltale fresh earth from giving the site away and shortly before the sun came up, the German returned along a hiking path with his rented camper to load up the fruits of their nocturnal labors.
The Americans had rented a small vacation home at the edge of Neusach and by the time dawn had touched the tops of the trees and the mountains above the north side of the lake, the small boxes were being opened one by one. Each box had its own inventory and the contents were checked against this. The first expedition had garnered a considerable quantity of jewelry including many gold wedding rings, brooches, cameos, glass frames and gold coins.
A sampling of the Lakawand dig. An antique pistol, gold coins, Nazi relics and documents and a portion of one of the wooden SS gold cases.
These were put into tubes which consisted of black PVC plumbing pipe, about six inches in diameter and one meter long, threaded at both ends, and closed with PVC caps. Each tube was marked with a letter and number and the same markings were inked in at the top of the original typed inventory.
The tin boxes were flattened, put into a fishing bag and later discreetly dumped into the lake by the Ukrainian.
Everyone was tired after the evening’s exertions and with the exception of the Ukrainian’s foray onto the lake, the balance of the day was devoted to rest.
The next dig began on the evening of Monday, June 11, 1990 at the eastern end of the lake. There was a camping ground there and a road that led to Highway E-55, some 9 kilometers away. The site was about two kilometers from the camping ground and it was necessary to be especially vigilant to avoid attracting any unwanted attention from late hikers, inquisitive children or romantic couples seeking a nesting place in the trees.
The second site was discovered to have a pine tree growing over it, and a good deal of time was consumed in procuring a saw, removing the tree, dragging its carcass into the woods and hacking through the extensive root system. There were eight boxes in this horde and the root system had broken into several of them, but as before the contents were well protected in waxed tin boxes and removed without incident. The camper van became stuck in a deep rut on the way back and it took nearly an hour to extricate it. But stuck vehicles and muddy, unshaven individuals were not out of place and aside from an athletic young male camper who spent some time in assisting the treasure hunters in getting their loot-packed van back onto the track, there were no incidents.
The sun was well up when the second load was unpacked, checked and put into the PVC tubes. This load consisted almost entirely of rings, jewelry and scrap gold. There were a number of coins and the artistic American was delighted to note that a number of them were very valuable ancient Greek silver and gold coins, the true value of which seemed to be lost on everyone, but himself.
The Ukrainian made another trip with a far larger load of flattened containers, and because of a number of legitimate fishermen on the lake that morning, had to expend considerable effort in rowing around to unoccupied areas to discard the evidence.
The various members were experiencing considerable physical problems with sore muscles and it was generally agreed that they resume their regular social activities for several days to thwart any possible curious tourists. Two French-speaking individuals had been seen moving along the water’s edge between the towns carrying a metal detector. One of the Americans pointed them out to the Austrian proprietor of a restaurant who remarked in a sarcastic tone that they were looking for some treasure a “big Nazi” was supposed to have buried there at the end of the war. When pressed for information, he continued that there was no treasure, but it was considered good business to discuss the probability of it with foreign tourists. There was even one enterprising local gentleman who rented out metal detectors.
The next expedition set out on the night of Friday, June 15. It was decided to avoid the section of the eastern end of the lake and its campers and pot holes so they began early, circling around the end of the lake and commencing to dig about 1 a.m. on the morning of the 16th.
There were no tree roots to deal with and they were far enough from the main roads and unwanted visitors to make their labors much easier. The soil was looser, containing a quantity of sand, and the six boxes were in far better shape than the others they had encountered previously.
This dig went entirely without incident and the contents consisted mainly of gold coins, loose gem stones and a large number of gold bars weighing ten kilos each. These were packed at the bottom of the crates without wrappings, but as gold is relatively impervious to rot or destruction by the elements, they all appeared to be in pristine condition. All these bars had their weight stamped into them and they appeared to have been cast in a mold designed for lead bars. The only other marks on the bars were from an Italian metal foundry which had obviously been put into the molds on manufacture and did not indicate a bank or refinery origin.
The fourth exhumation took place on the night of Sunday, June 17th, about 20 meters west of the third site. It proceeded without incident and the contents of the six chests proved to be more gold coins, several large boxes of gold religious medallions, a quantity of old American paper gold certificates, several jewel-studded, gold-sheathed old Russian religious icons, an 18th century silver Jewish Torah case complete with parchment document inside, a silver table service bearing the double-headed Polish eagle, and a brace of cased, silver-mounted flintlock pistols from the palace of Catherine the Great at Tsarskoe Selo outside of what was then Leningrad. How these got into the hands of General Globocnik was never discovered. There were also a number of original musical scores by the Polish composer Chopin in excellent condition, and a miscellany of other items of value.
The German was beginning to have problems in his lower lumbar region following the exertions and it was decided to take a short break. During this period, the Americans borrowed the camping van and drove off to the city of Villach where they bought a truck. This was painted to resemble a moving van. As a number of people seeking peace and quiet from the more metropolitan areas of Austria bought property in the Weissensee area, the arrival and departure of moving vans was not considered a noteworthy event.
On Thursday, June 21, 1990, the visitation to the fifth site in the cluster of remaining burials was interrupted briefly by a nocturnal party of drunken hikers, who decided to rest within clear view of where the resurrection men were planning to work. What was worse, one of the hikers was possessed of a handgun which he began to discharge on a fairly regular basis at various trees and other objects. This eventually drew the attentions of the local police who drove down the sandy track in a lurching vehicle, frightening off the inebriates, and leaving the field to the treasure hunters who were concealed at some distance in the underbrush.
The German was now complaining of back pains again and his Ukrainian companion was terrified that the police would return, so the digging went much slower. This horde consisted of five cases, two of which had thoroughly rotted, spilling their contents out when the boxes were moved. From this find came more gold coins, several boxes of unset jewels, more wedding rings, a large German Bible from the sixteenth century with silver clasps and an inset coat of arms, another collection of ten kilo gold bars, and a thick file of official German records wrapped in oil skin and sealed in copper tubes. These proved to be the records of Globocnik’s prison camps listing the names, occupations and eventual fates of a large number of inmates.
The gold bars put a strain on the tires of the camper which blew a tire on its trip out of the area and the van had to be emptied to get at the spare. Throughout this process, the German complained constantly about the pains he was suffering, and the Ukrainian joined in as a sort of chorus. His lamentations centered around the fact that the police would certainly return and they would then lose everything they had worked so hard to acquire.
On the forenoon of Friday, June 22nd, an impromptu conference was held on the terrace of a convenient inn with all the parties participating. Over the consumption of various local beverages and a lengthy lunch, the European Union branch of the association declared that it was their unanimous wish to leave the area at once, taking with them their portion of the recovered loot. It was pointed out that two more sites remained and that these sites were sufficiently remote as to virtually preclude discovery. The objectors claimed that they now had more than enough precious metal to satisfy them and would have some problems transporting it to the relative safety of Germany. They agreed to abandon their shares in the remaining two troves in exchange for a larger share of the material already recovered. They had no interest in the guns or the religious artifacts, preferring to take just the coins and the jewels which were more easily transported.
Finally, after much muted disputation, it was agreed that the precious stones, containing a large number of loose diamonds, some of the gold coins, all of the gold jewelry, and a few of the gold bars would go to the German/Ukrainian part of the team. The balance of the heavy gold bars, the coins and the religious artifacts would remain with the Americans.
As one of the Americans later remarked to his fellow national, the value of diamonds was completely artificial and they were always hard to sell for a decent profit. Since the German was fascinated with the cold glitter of the stones, he was given all of them along with large, but flawed natural emeralds, some of the gold coins which would be more difficult to convert to cash, boxes of scrap gold, nineteenth century watches, and a considerable number of wedding rings.
Following this, the participants in this Last Supper went their separate ways, leaving the Americans in possession of a very valuable bible, a collection of ancient coins worth, at the very least, the aggregate value of all the unset stones, the more easily disposed of gold coins, and almost all the gold bars.
There were now two men left to exhume the remaining two sites, and while the panic of the departed team members had some effect on those remaining behind, it did not deter them from going forth twice more on the evenings of the 29th and 30th of July.
The final gathering consisted mainly of gold bars, a small suit of dress 16th century armor designed for a child and set with stones of some value, and a collection of books in Latin which later turned out to have come from the Polish state library at Cracow. With the cleansing of the last site and the scattering of the last armfuls of forest litter, the first part of the saga of the Globocnik gold was over.
The second part was about to begin.
Finding the treasure, unearthing it and dividing it was child’s play compared with the logistical problems inherent in moving a truck full of contraband gold out of Austria, and to an area where it could be removed from the European continent and enjoyed at leisure elsewhere.
On Wednesday, July 4, 1990, the freshly-painted moving van left Weissensee forever, heading the nine kilometers to E-66 and south towards Italy with its inviting port cities on the Adriatic.
The truck was properly registered and a portion of it was loaded with cheap, second-hand furniture purchased in Austria to lend some verisimilitude to the story that an Austrian family was moving to Venice for business reasons. The former CIA man had obtained all the correct forms and was prepared to encounter Italian customs. However, the customs post was closed and he drove straight through without incident.
What happened to the German and his partner is not known, although they both managed to drive into Germany without any incident. It was rumored that the German retired to nurse his bad back in an expensive suburb of Munich while his co-worker married a fellow Slav and opened an ethnic restaurant in Switzerland.
The Americans bought a serviceable ship in a marina at the northern end of the Adriatic, loaded up their cargo and engaged several local fisherman who had a desire to emigrate as far and as quickly from Italy as possible. The boat, which was a large diesel custom-built fishing boat, was entirely capable of transversing the Mediterranean as well as the central reaches of the Atlantic without undue effort.
The first part of the trip was very scenic, the artistic American spending most of his time making sketches of such points of interest as the ancient palace of Diocletian at Split, and taking a brief detour to make drawings of the palace of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria on the Greek island of Corfu.
They sailed through the wine-dark seas of Greece and out, eventually, past the Pillars of Hercules and vanished completely from this narrative.
In September of 1998, another expedition, this time under the direction of one Norman Scott of Alachua, Florida-based “Global Explorations,” arrived at the Hotel Cieslar in Techendorf.
There were twelve persons in the party, most of whom arrived on the eighth of September with the remaining members arriving on the ninth.
This expedition consisted of:
Mr. Scott and his secretary, Ms Doré, Room 117
Mr. McAfee, Room 101
Mr. Lee, Room 102
Mr. Anderson, Room 109
Mr. Constandy, Room 202
Mr. Pochmüller, Room 208
Mr. Kiester, Room 219
Mr. Varga, Room 222
Dr. Pfoser, Room 115
Mr. Douglas, Room 211
This expedition made a number of searches of the area between 8th September and 14th September, 1998. Electric boats were rented at Neusach and the eastern end of the Weissensee, where the maps indicated the gold had been buried and partially recovered. Only sail and electric-powered boats were allowed on the lake to avoid pollution. The official police patrol speedboat was gasoline-fueled.
During this timeframe, numerous indications of buried gold were found but because the lake is a very popular tourist resort, there were far too many hikers, sunbathers, fishermen and campers to permit any kind of digging.
A view of the eastern end of the Weissensee taken in the late 1930s. The Lakawand is as the right center, around the wooded point.
However, at the site called the “Lakawand,” Scott and some of his party climbed the stone bluff and discovered at least eight sites that had been previously excavated. The ground had sunk down and left behind a series of hollow impressions in the tree-covered earth overlooking the lake.
The expensive metal detectors located some metal but as it was far too late in the day to begin digging and since no one had the foresight to bring shovels, it was decided to return the next day for serious excavation.
The next day could only be described as controlled chaos. The diggers woke late, had trouble finding shovels and when they got to the Lakawand site, it began to rain very heavily. The local Gendarmerie had been alerted by the boat renter that a party of foreigners had set forth bearing shovels and since the Austrians are not happy about digging parties looking for gold they themselves could find, the irate and wet treasure hunters were accosted by even more irate Austrian police.
They were told that they were trespassing not only on private property but also in a state forest preserve and must depart.
They had not the time to uncover anything but one rusty can and three beer bottle caps.
There was considerable anger expressed by the frustrated hunters towards Mr. Douglas, the man with the overlays. It was discovered, in a heated and very vocal meeting held in the lounge of the Cieslar Hotel, that the contract Global Explorations had with him specified only that he bring them to within 100 square meters of existing, and previous, sites. As that much square footage approximated a football field, accurate location of buried gold was almost impossible.
They were even more irate to discover that Mr. Douglas had recovered a number of important German documents, once the property of General Globocnik, from where he had buried them earlier. They had no intrinsic value but it appeared that Douglas had used the opportunity presented to him by the Global people to have a pleasant and entirely free vacation to the beauties of the Austrian lake country with the opportunity of recovering documents of great political sensitivity.
The unfortunate Mr. Scott was the object of scorn and derision on the part of his investors and this expedition ended in violent recriminations, threats of lawsuits, bad checks tendered for lodgings and no gold to show for their extensive investments in time and money.
In June of 2000, there was yet another visit to the treasure troves of the Weissensee.
This one, far more successful than the 1998 gathering, consisted of only two people and was extensively photographed.
Mr. Douglas was the last of the two Americans involved in the primary exploration. His earlier companion, James Atwood, Lt.Colonel USA and former CIA official in Berlin, had died during a brain operation, and his share of the loot was no doubt spent on medical bills.

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Wayne Rohde

Wayne Rohde is an antivaccine activist, and the founder of the antivaccine group the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota, occasional blogger for the antivaccine conspiracy website Age of Autism, and a rich source of trite, endlessly repeated and falsified (and repeated again) antivaccine tropes. Rohde is an attorney, and has, as far as we can tell, no background in science or research. He is nevertheless an active figure at antivaccine conferences and was in 2019 asked to serve on the new Minnesota state council on autism together with fellow antivaccine conspiracy theorist and health freedom advocate Patti Carroll; that state council was initiated by state senator Jim Abeler, a chiropractor and fellow anti-vaccine activist, who justified the appointment of Rohde and Carroll by invoking the balance fallacy. Rohde himself is an executive for the group Health Choice, which advocates that chronic health conditions in children are caused by “unhealthy choices” including “side effects of vaccine choices.” This is not true.
To people like Rohde, vaccines are to blame for most ills. Here, for instance, is (a discussion of) Rohde trying to connect Harold Ramis’s death to vaccines through desperately bizarre speculation. Then he refers to some garbage studies by Shaw and Tomljenovic, websites that say the opposite of what he says that they say, and vaccine court cases. (Indeed, Rohde has written a book about vaccine courts: The Vaccine Court: The Dark Truth of America’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which seems to be mostly an instance of Badger’s Law). Of course, Rohde is mostly JAQing off. But it was the vaccines. Nothing in what he says has anything to do with facts, truth and evidence, but if you start with an idea, stick to it dogmatically, and don’t care about what is actually the case, you can connect almost anything to it with enough ingenuity.
Of course, Rohde denies being antivaccine; instead, he is – when it suits him – an advocate for health freedom. By claiming to be pro-freedom, he gets to call his opponents “fascists”, or “medical fascists”. He likes that. He also likes questioning the motivations of those who disagree with him.
Diagnosis: crackpot conspiracy theorist. He is quite vocal, however, and seems to have some influence in the antivaccine movement. Dangerous.

Chuck Rogers

Chuck Rogers is an internet crank and the creator of the website Conservative Fact Check, more appropriately known as the Conservapedia of fact checking, a site “dedicated to providing a conservative alternative to enormously liberal-biased fact checking sites like snopes.com, factcheck.org, and politifact.com.” I.e.: he doesn’t like the facts other fact checkers use, so he’ll construct his own. As “definitive proof” of Politifact’s bias, Rogers added up all the times Politifact had called a political claim a “pants on fire” lie and noted that conservatives were more likely to receive that designation than liberals: “To have any semblance of fairness, PolitiFact should play it 50/50 and present an equal number of lies from both sides. They clearly are not concerned with any pretense,” said Rogers, who didn’t actually dispute any of the “pants on fire”-designations. Moreover, “[t]hey also unfairly tarnish Michele Bachmann as a liar, when anybody who follows her already understands that many of her statements aren’t meant to be truthful in the first place – she simply says what she feels.” Or, put more succinctly, it is unfair to call Bachmann a liar since she doesn’t even try to speak the truth. At least it is clear that an important motivation for Rogers and his project is not knowing what factsare.
Rogers is also a birther: “I don’t doubt for a second that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery — many other people, including Mr. Donald Trump, have said the same thing, so the evidence is overwhelming.” So he doesn’t know what evidenceis either.
The site doesn’t seem to have made much by way of inroads, and it is hard to avoid suspecting parody (though there is quite a bit of evidence suggesting it isn’t). As for Tea Party activists spreading false voter fraud conspiracies: “We can’t blame the Tea Party for spreading these. As mentioned, many of them are politically and mathematically unsophisticated, but they make up for that with enthusiasm, and that’s what counts. By spreading these reports of voter fraud – whether true or false – they’re helping raise awareness of the voter fraud issue.” So, not only does Rogers not know what facts are; he doesn’t care either.
Diagnosis: It’s hard to rule out parody, but there is quite a bit of evidence that Rogers is, in fact, completely and utterly delusional.

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