Subject: last request Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2003 18:33:39 -0400 From: "John Sugg" <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <Wilson@foxBGHsuit.com>,<email@example.com>
If I receive no response to my previous request (copied below) by 9 p.m. tonight, I will assume you have no comment. Again, your comments are welcome.
The Florida Division of Consumer Services says there is no exemption as you have claimed (for individuals and families). Indeed, among the most common registrations are those for families who have suffered tragedies. The only exemptions would require that funds be administered by a trustee under the supervision of a circuit court judge. The state folks have looked at your solicitations, and say you will have to register and provide full records on your fundraising. The civil penalty for not doing so is as much as $10,000, and there could be criminal charges brought.
Please let me know if you have any comments, or if you have any
substantiation of your claim for an exemption from the registration.
"Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."
-- Hunter S. Thompson
John Sugg Senior Editor Creative Loafing Atlanta, Georgia John.firstname.lastname@example.org 404-614-1241
[Note: This message is being resent because the original reply minutes ago failed to include the cc to Neil Skene]
Look, I've been on an airplane all day and just happened to check my e-mail to find your latest message demanding a response within two hours or you threaten to assume (and apparently report?) that we have no comment. You asked us if we had any explanation to your conclusion that we failed to register with the state. I gave you a prompt response. Here it is again: <<Individuals or groups who solicit donations for a particular individual or family in need are not required to register with the State.
Now, five days later, you write back and demand answers to a number of additional questions which are based on what, at first reading, appears to me to be a misinterpretation of the law.
I will be happy to review your inquiry with one of our lawyers and get back to you promptly. But since you didn't get around to presenting me with these particular questions until 6:57 p.m. tonight, I obviously will not be able to do the necessary research and get you an answer before your 9 p.m. deadline.
I respectfully suggest that for you to report that Jane and I have no comment would be wrong, unethical, and malicious. You HAVE a comment to the question you asked me last week. It is short, simple, and easy to quote. The fair thing would be to use it and explain to your readers that your additional questions were presented only two hours before your deadline and well after business hours so we were understandably unable to get you immediate responses to very technical, legal questions.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: State's position on fundraising Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2003 18:18:18 -0400 From: Steve Wilson <email@example.com> Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org To: John Sugg <email@example.com> CC: Jane Akre <firstname.lastname@example.org> References: <BOEEILIIHBKOIOLEALKDCEDECNAA.email@example.com>
You wrote:The Florida Division of Consumer Services says there is no exemption as you have claimed (for individuals and families).Then, in the very same message a few words later, you wrote: The only exemptions would require...So, there's no exempetion and then you describe what these non-existent exemptions might require?
Let's back up. You're question to me September 11 was:
<<Do you have an explanation for why you haven't registered?>>
My response on the same date was: <<Individuals or groups who solicit donations for a particular individual or family in need are not required to register with the State.>>
Although my experience with you earlier this month confirms you are not
Ethical enough to honestly and accurately report the responses I give you, I have nonethless again responded to your question. And again, my response speaks for itself. I'm sorry it doesn't seem to match your preconceived conclusions here but I urge you again to be accurate in reporting my response.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: State's position on fundraising Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2003 18:57:05 -0400 From: "John Sugg" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <email@example.com> CC: "Jane Akre" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Steve, your reply argues but does not answer. So, please respond before 9 p.m. to:
1. Have you registered? 2. If not, do you have a court-appointed trustee administering your funds, and is a circuit court judge supervising the funds? If so, please name the trustee and which circuit court judge is overseeing the funds.
3. If you do not have a court-appointed trustee supervised by a circuit court judge, do you claim another form of exemption under Chapter 496 of Florida Statutes?
FYI, below is the relevant portion of the law. To repeat No. 2 above,
Please provide us with the names of the trustee and identify the circuit court if you are claiming this exemption, the only one (other than for governmental agencies, which I assume you don't claim) in Ch. 496.
496.413 Contributions solicited for or accepted on behalf of a named individual.--
(1) Contributions solicited for, or accepted by or on behalf of, a
named individual must be deposited in a trust account opened by a trustee named in a properly established trust document or must be deposited in a depository established in accordance with s. 69.031. The circuit court has jurisdiction over the contributed funds placed in such depository accounts.
(2) Disbursements of contributions may be properly made from a trust account only upon written verification from the trustee that the disbursement is in furtherance of the purpose for which the funds were solicited, with documentation reflecting the identity of the proposed payee and the justification for the proposed payment. Disbursements of contributed funds from a depository account may be made only as allowed by the court. When a trust account is to be closed and a balance remains in that Account in excess of the amount needed for the benefit of the named individual, such excess funds may be transferred to another trust account for the benefit of another named individual who is in the same or similar circumstances.
(3) Any person or organization that violates the provisions of subsection (1) or subsection (2) is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
"Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism." -- Hunter S. Thompson
John Sugg Senior Editor Creative Loafing Atlanta, Georgia John.email@example.com 404-614-1241
9 17 sugg on fundraising and the states position ((this after his boss had been contacted regarding an editorial)) Steve, the question is simple. My emails prior to Tuesday stated that Florida officials felt you were not in compliance with registration.
They have examined your web solicitations. They state -- as I have relayed to you previously -- that there are no exceptions as you describe. I found only one in the law, and that provides for both a trustee and a circuit court to oversee the fundraising. It's very simple: We know you have not registered, according to state officials. Do you maintain that you have an exemption? Is it the exemption requiring a trustee and court oversight; if so, please say who is providing such oversight? If not, do you still maintain that you have a valid exemption from the law? If so, please state the statutory reference?
Very simple stuff. You want a few more hours, that's fine. I will wait until 2 p.m. Wednesday.
-----Original Message----- From: Steve Wilson [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 1:21 PM To: John Sugg Cc: email@example.com; 'Jane Akre' Subject: Re: State's position on funraising
I appreciate the more-civil tone as well as the time to adequately Research and respond to your latest inquiries.
Shown below is our reponse. For your convenience, it is also attached as a Word file.
I again appeal to your journalistic ethics and ask, regardless of what opinion you may wish to express. which is of course your right, please report our responses accurately and fairly. And who knows, in light of this new information you might even wish to re-evaluate your unfounded suspicions and the false conclusions to which we believe you led your readers earlier.
Statement of Steve Wilson and Jane Akre
We filed suit against Fox and posted our website on April 2, 1998. We Did so without any appeal for financial support and rejected all such offers, prepared to fund the estimated $50,000 out of our personal savings.
Nearly a year later, after we had well surpassed the $50,000 mark and it was clear the battle would be longer and many times costlier than our lawyers originally estimated, we re-evaluated our situation. In the Spring of 1999, we posted a new page on our website which said, in part:
“When we filed our lawsuit in early 1998, we vowed to each other that we’d never ask anyone for financial help. We wanted to avoid even the appearance that we are motivated by personal gain….We hope you agree that it is not fair that any single family should shoulder the entire burden of waging an expensive legal battle for truth and honesty on the public airwaves, especially when the opponent is the biggest, richest media empire in the world.”
There was no suggestion in that posting that we were destitute when we changed course and invited “all of you who will benefit from our struggle to help support us in any way you can.” The support we suggested, by the way, included more than helping with legal costs—supporters were also urged to lend their time and their talents to send messages directly to Monsanto and the mainstream media, as well as invite us to speak to interested groups.
Prior to establishing what we called The Citizens’ Fund for the Right To Know, we inquired about what legal requirements, if any, we needed to meet. Just as the Florida Bureau of Consumer Assistance states on its website today, we were told, “Individuals or groups who solicit donations for a particular individual or family in need are not required to register with the State.” We were further advised to establish a separate account for gifts received and we did so before we invited support and accepted a dime.
Following the overturn of our jury victory, our “Help Jane & Steve” Webpage was updated to announce appeal of the appellate court decision. The update—which followed the same language about the fairness of any single family shouldering the entire financial burden of such a battle—said, in part:
“Although not as expensive as the trial, this appeal will run up our legal bills even higher at a time we were just hoping to get back on our feet. The cost of appeal to Florida’s Supreme Court, if necessary, could be tens of thousands more dollars out of our family bank account.”
We did not mean to suggest we were down and out. The reference to “at a time we were just hoping to get back on our feet” was intended to convey that we had hoped the matter would have been favorably settled by the court so that we could put all of this behind us and get on with our lives on the same footing we had before the struggle began.
“Back on our feet” referred to our hope that the emotional and family turmoil caused by the suit would be over, we could both finally resume fulltime our careers with fulltime work in our field, and personal decisions about our futures could be made out from under the cloud of an ongoing and uncertain legal battle.
We have never deliberately misappropriated a dime, as you have suggested by innuendo. As we stated in our last response—and you largely ignored—we have painstakingly kept our promise that every penny of the money gifted to us for legal expenses has in fact been used to pay for nothing but those direct expenses.
Finally, in response to your latest questions about our compliance with state regulations related to charities: As a result of your inquiry, we have determined that although the state website still advises registration is not necessary for individuals who invite donations for a particular family in need, we will not only meet all special guidelines required of such invitations for public support, we will go a step farther and register our Citizens Fund.
We have nothing to hide and never intended to violate even the spirit of state oversight. In fact, we welcome the opportunity to block further wild speculation by immediately complying with the obligations outlined to us today by the state official in charge of administering the state’s Solicitation of Contributions Act.
you have avoided direct answers to most of the really important
one of the questions you didn't answer was whether you and Jane are
I am pursuing is a very simple answer: What is the mistake(s) you claim
the court record shows that you acknowledged not filing income tax returns
truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity