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An ADL Backgrounder on the Reform Party and two of its leading proponents, Fred Newman and Leonora Fulani

ADL Backgrounder, 25 October 1999

In recent weeks and months, the Reform party has benefited from increasing public attention. Jesse Ventura's gubernatorial victory in Minnesota, and today's presidential election politics have generated a renewed interest in the party and may bring about significant support for its candidates in the 2000 elections.

Following is an ADL Backgrounder on the Reform Party and two of its leading proponents, Fred Newman and Leonora Fulani.

  • A close look at the inner workings of the Reform party reveals that it could be the latest vehicle in the pursuit of political power by the now-defunct New Alliance Party (NAP) and its former leaders: Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani, who have become major players in the party.
  • Fred Newman, a self-styled Marxist psychotherapist with roots in the Lyndon LaRouche movement, formed the now-defunct NAP in 1979.
  • The NAP's first significant political endeavor took shape in 1984 when Lenora Fulani joined the group and ran for lieutenant governor of New York. Newman became Fulani's campaign manager, therapist and mentor, and taught her the form of therapy she practices. Fulani has been a strong supporter of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and is regarded by some observers as an extremist (she used NAP publishing and cultural arms in backing Moammar Khadafy).
  • Despite its self-proclaimed multicultural vision and its avowed dedication to fighting racism and anti-Semitism, the NAP readily bombarded its members with anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist rhetoric. In the pages of the National Alliance, the NAP's newspaper, Newman, who himself is Jewish, was quoted as saying, "The Jew, the dirty Jew, once the ultimate victim of capitalism's soul, fascism, would become a victimizer on behalf of capitalism."
  • Fulani's contributions to the National Alliance included a commentary in which she stated that Jews "had to sell their souls to acquire Israel and are required to do the dirtiest work of capitalism—to function as mass murderers of people of color—in order to keep it."
  • After Fulani's run for lieutenant governor of New York in 1984, she ran as the party's presidential candidate in 1988, and again in 1992. She became the first African-American woman to get on the ballot in all 50 states and qualified for $2 million in Federal matching funds.
  • After Ross Perot's strong showing in the 1992 presidential election, the NAP, along with the leaders of other small, independent and mostly centrist political groups, sensed that they had to make a move. Putting aside blatant ideological differences, the groups met in 1992 and formed the Federation of Independent Parties.
  • At a convention in April 1994, an array of independent parties from across the country joined to form the national Patriot party. NAP influence on the gathering was substantial, with its members gaining half of the Patriot party's 16 leadership positions.
  • By December 1994, the NAP announced that it would dissolve itself. Fulani and Newman urged their supporters to join New York's Independence party and the national Patriot party. In a little over a year, members of the former NAP seemed to have fully integrated themselves into the Patriot party movement.
  • The Perot-Fulani connection dated back to 1992 when NAP lawyers helped Perot's United We Stand America party achieve ballot access in all 50 states. Russell Verney, Perot's campaign manager and closest adviser subsequently maintained close contact with Fulani and Newman.
  • Ross Perot officially formed the Reform party in 1995 with a petition drive in California to place him and the party on the ballot for the 1996 presidential election. The first national Reform party convention and election of party leaders was held in 1997.
  • The collaboration between the Patriot party and the Reform party became complete by the end of 1996 when Newman and Fulani folded virtually the entire membership of the Patriot party into the Reform party.
  • In October 1997, a dissident group of Reform party activists founded a new national political party called the American Reform party. While the American Reform party shares Perot's beliefs that politicians are terribly corrupt and the government is too big, the splinter group accused the Reform party of being too hierarchical
  • Today the Reform party's future is wide open. Pat Buchanan, the conservative commentator with a history of rhetoric offensive to Jews and other minorities, is reportedly considering launching his candidacy for president on the Reform party ticket. He reportedly has the backing of Pat Choate, Ross Perot's 1996 vice president running mate, outgoing Reform Party Chairman Russ Verney, Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani.
  • Fulani has reportedly made it clear she would support Buchanan's run for president on the Reform party ticket during a recent lunch she had with the presidential hopeful.
  • Fulani and Newman have very little in common with Buchanan"aside from their expressed hostility towards Jews and a tendency to pander to xenophobic fears "yet their meeting with him follows a pattern of opportunism that has marked their entire careers. Fulani and Newman are well situated to reap the benefits if Buchanan seeks the presidential nomination of the Reform party.
  • Incoming Reform party chairman, Jack Gargan, who is one of Ross Perot's earliest backers and founder of the anti-incumbent group, "Throw the Hypocritical Rascals Out," appeared on Radio Free America, the Liberty Lobby's weekly radio call-in show on August 8. Willis Carto, founder of the Liberty Lobby, perhaps the most influential and active anti-Semitic propaganda organization in the country, called Gargan "one of my private heroes" and proclaimed that "there's nobody better" to lead the Reform party.
  • Jesse Ventura's gubernatorial victory apparently has some Reform party members believing that just about anything is possible. The party's ballot access, along with $12.6 million in federal campaign funds for 2000, may attract several potentially high profile candidates. It is likely that former NAP leaders will play a pivotal role in determining who will win the Reform party nomination for the 2000 presidential election.