An example of "Viral Email":
(this link is still good as of 8/16/06)
From: Paul Cienfuegos
Date: Friday, May 02, 2003 12:28 PM
Subject: Humboldt County (California) urgently needs your help
Dear friends across the United States, from the people of Humboldt County struggling against Maxxam Corporation,
As many of you probably already know, we have a world-famous case here of corporate fraud and environmental destruction caused by Maxxam Corporation, which is headquartered in Texas (CEO: Charles Hurwitz) and is chartered in Delaware. In November of 2000, in an upset election that toppled the good-old-boy power structure here, a dissident District Attorney was elected by the people of our county to replace a D.A. who had been looking the other way for years as Maxxam Corp violated the law literally hundreds of times. Just weeks after taking office, Paul Gallegos stunned everyone by filing a major fraud lawsuit against the corporation. That event set off a firestorm across California's north coast. And because Maxxam still runs the county politically, its allies have responded by quickly organizing a recall campaign to oust our new D.A. as quickly as possible before he shakes things up too badly.
The reason that I'm writing to all of you is that we urgently need your help here to defend our new D.A. from the recall campaign while simultaneously supporting his bold move to sue Maxxam for fraud.
Below, you will find a brief note from Richard Salzman who is coordinating the local campaign to support the D.A. and his historic lawsuit. Justice will not be served in this county unless we can raise substantial amounts of money to at least try to match what the corporation's supporters are already raising in their already vicious media campaign against Gallegos. Thus I am asking you to consider making a generous donation toward this cause.
Also below, you'll be able to read an Op-Ed written by our D.A. in our local daily last week, followed by two major articles about the issue from the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Journal .
Please respond not to me, but to Richard Salzman.
Thanks in advance,
Co-director, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County
A note from Richard Salzman to our supporters across the nation
Last year the residents of Humboldt county, on California's redwood coast, elected Paul Gallegos, a man of the people, not beholden to any special interest as District Attorney in an upset victory against the incumbent DA of 20 years, best known for his authorization of the use of pepper spray as a pain compliance technique on non-violent protesters. Eight weeks after taking office and one day before the four year statue of limitations ran out, he filed a lawsuit alleging fraud against Maxxam corporation's wholly owned subsidiary Pacific Lumber. Pacific Lumber's apologists have now launched a recall of the district attorney in hopes of removing him from office in order to avoid answering these charges in a court of law.
This is clearly a David and Goliath story when viewed from the national stage. A community faced with having exercised true democracy now being subverted in the most overt manner by an out-of-state corporation using all the worst tactics of instilling fear in their workers and promoting hate-mongering against any who dare oppose them. We will need the support of concerned citizens from throughout the country if we are to keep Maxxam from buying this election. We have invested all we have on producing a series of nine commercials which we are now putting into rotation.
In order to buy the air time to run the whole series, we will need to raise some $30,000 (what their campaign had already raised by the time they served Paul the notice of recall) over the next few weeks/months. In addition to financial support we are asking voters around the country to write to their representatives as well as to ours, urging their support of our beleaguered DA. We need elected officials nationwide to speak up in outrage over this attempt to circumvent justice and buy an election. This story has been covered in both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times as well as the San Francisco Chronicle and papers in DC and elsewhere. We encourage people to speak out wherever they live in opposition to this attempt to circumvent justice.
Yours in solidarity,
Thanks for your support.
Richard Salzman - coordinator
Alliance for Ethical Business
po box 387
Eureka Ca 95502
"The Alliance for Ethical Business is a citizens group working to ensure that corporate fraud and illegal business practices are prosecuted in a court of law."
All people are equal under the law
by Paul Gallegos
27 April 2003
To the people of Humboldt County:
One of the primary goals of our society is to realize the unfulfilled promise that all people are equal before the law. I was elected district attorney by the people of Humboldt County because they share my commitment to fulfilling this promise.
Shortly after taking office we became aware that Pacific Lumber Co. may have engaged in fraudulent conduct. We had a duty to investigate the matter and did. As a result of that investigation and the evidence we uncovered, we filed a lawsuit against them.
Because it is a matter which will be resolved in court, I do not wish to discuss the details of it here. Nor will I engage in a discussion about the possible outcomes. As with all court cases, the pleadings which have been filed are public records and are available for public inspection. For convenience we have placed a copy of the complaint and other documents of public interest at our web page at http://www.co.humboldt.ca.us/distatty/.
However, I would like to explain what this case is not about. It is not about whether Pacific Lumber Co. is being properly regulated by the government. Nor is it about forestry and water laws. It is not an attempt to put any company out of business or to end logging. Clearly the wealth of our county is tied to the wealth of our people. Rather, it is about fraud and, ultimately, whether our laws apply to all or just some of us.
It has been suggested that we should not have filed this case against the biggest business in Humboldt County. This suggestion is troubling and perplexing, as it implies that we either do or should have different rules for people based on their wealth or political power. Clearly, this cannot be.
Nobody is above the law. This fundamental principle was at the heart of the American Revolution more than 200 years ago. As American citizens, we are not bound by race or religion but by the beliefs enshrined in our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I know we all share these beliefs and a commitment to their fulfillment. I also know that it is our individual conduct that gives meaning to these beliefs and that they will only be realized by our commitment to fulfilling them.
Some people say that our suit against Pacific Lumber defined me. My response is that it has not defined me, it is defining US. We are all in this together. It is a painful process. But we will come through it together and be better for it because all people will know that in Humboldt County all people are equal under the law and no one, not even the most rich or most powerful, gets preferential treatment.
As your DA, I know where I stand. It is where I have always stood: for equal treatment before the law. As readers of this paper know, I wasn't the candidate predicted to win the election. I didn't have nearly as much money as my opponent. I wasn't well-connected. I had never before run for public office. However, I won because the people of Humboldt County elected me. They elected me for the very change that some seek to prevent.
I am honored and privileged to have the responsibility of serving the people of Humboldt County. I am honored and privileged to have the opportunity to work with the people at this office, who work tirelessly to serve this community. I know that I can comfortably speak for all of them when I say that we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work for you.
Paul Gallegos was elected district attorney in March 2002 and took office in January. He lives in Eureka.
Update: And his suit against PL didn't even pass demurrer. That is to say, it was found to be without merit and not worthy of going to trial. In the meantime, the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office is in disarray, Gallegos has been the subject of a scathing Grand Jury Report, he has lost all but three of the veteran Prosecutors he inherited, and he has been unable to replace them. Some of his new hires leave after a matter of weeks, one lasted only a few days. He has lost his secretary, his office manager, and three of his investigators. His relationship with law enforcement is so bad that every single law enforcement group in the County endorsed his opponent in the last election. He has been caught plagiarizing his Op-Eds in the local paper - and that is just the beginning of the legacy Paul Gallegos will be leaving in Humboldt County. All the national publicity he got as a result of the services of a fancy out of town PR man won't change that.
And if you read that viral email above and are moved to send money, you should be asking where that money is going.