"BIGGER than you can POSSIBLY IMAGINE!"
"I can't promise you I can call these people off, but I will try."
Richard Salzman's words. March 2003.
It's impossible to separate Richard Salzman from the phenomenon that is Paul Gallegos.
Largely credited with having gotten Gallegos elected, Salzman came into Gallegos' campaign committee weeks before the (March 2002 Primary) election. He claimed to have turned things around, alienating many of Paul's friends and supporters.
I met Richard on election night. He wasn't at Paul's party. He was at Jill Geist's election night party, working the phones, calling the elections office, getting the updates. He was dynamic and energized, and fun. And he wanted to join Jill's campaign team.
We knew nothing about him. But we welcomed him aboard. He had sales experience, he said, being an artist's representative, he became the primary fundraiser for the campaign. He wasn't afraid to make cold calls, to ask for money.
He worked on the campaign from March until the November General election, which Jill won.
She and Paul both took office in January of 2003.
In March of 2003, things changed.
Shortly after the PL lawsuit was announced (which was LONG before Stoen actually FILED it), Richard had heard a rumor that there would be a recall effort. He came to find out if I knew anything about it.
Richard was in full gear. fully mobilized, in the process of forming the "Alliance for Ethical Business," opening a bank account, and planning an ad campaign to support the lawsuit, or support Paul's filing of the lawsuit, and in essence against the Recall. I advised him against it. Pointed out that even if it was true, the issue would die, the only way it would have life is if he gave it life. Recall's have a poor history of success.
I didn't understand his actions. I knew he was a Paul supporter, and he had never shown this other side. WHY was he doing this?
We argued about what he was doing. After 3 hours, I had him convinced that he would do nothing but hurt Paul Gallegos, who he supposedly cared about. I told him that if he persisted in what he was doing people would think Paul was "bought and paid for." Little did I know.
He said he couldn't promise that he could call these people off, but that he would try. And that he would give my name to a guy in Sacramento, Michael ShAllenberger, who would call me, so that I would know "they" had considered what I had to say.
Shellenberger did call me, and I told him the same thing. But it wasn't what he wanted to hear.
At that point, I had no idea who - or what - Michael Shellenberger was. My early attempts to find out were unsuccessful because Richard pronounced his name ShAllenberger. Whenever I typed the name Michael Shallenberger, nothing came up.
Only when Paul was injured in his surfing accident, and he claimed to have been surfing with his "college-buddy" Michael Shellenberger, was I able to type the correct name into a websearch.
Then the pieces began to fall together.
But, back to that first conversation with Richard. He said, "Paul can't trust anyone in that office except Tim." And suddenly I could see Stoen whispering in Jim Jones' ear, "You can't trust that guy, that guy is an FBI informant, that guy is a mole, that guy over there is...." you get the idea. It was chilling.
Richard went on, "There's a mole in the office." So, he said, he had advised Paul to fire three people the next day. This, he said would accomplish two purposes... one, it might eliminate the informant/mole, and two, if it didn't, it would scare them all into submission. He was talking about the D.A.'s office.
Now - I ask you, two months into office, what did Paul have to hide?
He went on to make his ads, some of them featured a guy named Chompers Cook, talking about how if this lawsuit went through, he could see more logging jobs to come, that logging would return to the way it used to be.
I had the opportunity to stop Paul Gallegos in the coffee shop and tell him to tell Richard not to run those ads. That they would be damaging to him. He said, "What ads?" This was surprising since Richard's implication had been that Paul was in on the whole thing, and the ad agency preparing the ads was under the impression that they were working for Paul. I have since come to believe that Paul was not being honest. That he knew full well what I was talking about.
At any rate, a week or so later, I received a call from Richard, saying he was not upset that I had talked to Paul, but he clearly was upset.
I repeated what I had told him earlier, that I believed he was being used, that the people behind the so-called "Alliance" should have to disclose who they were and what their interests were, that he was being put at risk, that they should be honest and do things legally and in an up-front manner.
His reply was that he knew what he was doing, he told me there were "five of us working on this every day!" and assured me that he would have names up on the website within the week.
What he then did was start soliciting people's donations and endorsement, and running those names as the backing of the AEB. Using them as cover, if you will. To this day, the names of those behind the AEB have not been revealed.
He grew angrier as we spoke, demanded to know who I was working for.
He said, "This is BIGGER THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE!" in a how-dare-you-interfere tone.
So, I started to look into it.
And, what I have found is very disturbing.